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4 Signs You Are Over-Exfoliating Your Skin And What You Should Do

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As the skincare lovers that we are, it’s really no surprise that we’re always down to make efforts for our skin to stay healthy and flawless. But what if we’re trying too much? Similar to many other situations in life, there’s a good chance you can do too much of a good thing. Touché. Exfoliation is one of them, and while it brings a bunch of benefits to the skin, overdoing it comes with a lot of unpleasant outcomes.

What is exfoliation?

Exfoliation is my favorite boon, a real gift. It’s a vital step in any skincare routine, no matter the skin type. Exfoliation is the process that helps us get rid of dead cells buildup, pollution, excess oil, cleanses pores, making them look smaller, eliminating the chances of breakouts, and increasing other product’s absorption. Yes, exfoliation does all that. But only if you find the proper frequency for you. While some can exfoliate to three times a week, others go into over-exfoliation if doing it more than once weekly.

What is over-exfoliation?  

Over-exfoliating doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it too often. It can also mean that you’re using a product that’s too aggressive for your skin. Or, for instance, it may indicate that you’ve slathered on too much retinol and AHAs, or who knows what nasty combos you’ve layered on your skin.


It’s tricky, but your skin can only benefit from the exfoliation process once you get it right. Few signs tell you if you are over-exfoliating or not, and tracking them is vital since over-exfoliation often leads to increased sensitivity, dryness, and irritations.

Signs you’re over-exfoliating your skin

Your skin barrier weakens

damaged skin barrier is often a sign of overdoing exfoliation. Unless you’ve added a new product to your skincare regimen and you observe your complexion getting irritated, peeled, or red, there’s a good chance you’re over-exfoliating. In a word, this is called hypersensitivity. Once you notice that, reconsider how many times you exfoliate and what type of exfoliator you use. Opt for enzymatic exfoliants if your skin is sensitive, as these are the gentlest. The rest of the skin types can use chemical exfoliants, while everybody should leave physical exfoliants for the body. 

Your skin is too oily

Overdoing exfoliation may lead sebaceous glands to secrete too much oil. Because over-exfoliation has drying effects, your skin will produce more oil in an attempt to replenish that moisture loss.

So, next time you wonder why your skin is oily all of a sudden, consider over-exfoliating as a reason.

Suddenly, you’re covered in pimples

If your skin starts to break out too often, it might be a sign you’re over-exfoliating. When exfoliating too much, sebum, which has a role in protecting the skin and keeping its barrier integer, strips away, leaving the skin unshielded. Hence, skin is left naked, allowing all bacteria, pollutants, or other irritants to wreak havoc on your skin. On the other hand, related to what I’ve said above, over-exfoliating may induce the sebaceous glands into overdrive and end up producing more oil. What does more sebum mean? Yep, clogged pores and more chances for breakouts to appear.

Your makeup flakes away

Since over-exfoliation often leads to dry and flaky skin, it’s no surprise you don’t get to have the perfect canvas for makeup. When skin is dry and peels off, it’s difficult for your makeup products to layer smoothly and resist on the skin. Many times you could blame the foundation or your primer when it could just be you over-exfoliating. 


What can I do if I over-exfoliate my skin?

Have a break. Have a two-week break from all exfoliants, no matter how gentle they are, quit using potentially harsh ingredients such as retinol, L-ascorbic acid, AHAs, BHAs, alcohol, fragrances, or SLSs. Instead, add to your messed up my skin routine regenerating, calming, and hydrating ingredients. The best examples are hyaluronic acidceramide, CoQ10, peptidesqualane, shea butter, and glycerin in gentle pH-balanced products. Also, equip with patience. Don’t try to speed things up. So that your cells regenerate, it will most likely take about one month or more.


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