It happens so quickly. One moment your skin is thriving (hello, happy microbiome!). And the next, it’s red, irritated, peeling, and you’re breaking out like you’re 15 years old again. How did this happen?! You’re diligently following a daily AM and PM regimen! Well, except that you’ve decided to up the ante with your exfoliation. But you can’t help it! Your skin looks and feels *so* good afterwards. So how on Earth did this innocent tweak push you into the danger zone?
Before we dive into the skin woes of over exfoliating, let’s back up and define exfoliation. Exfoliation is the processing of removing dead skin cells from the outermost surface of the skin. Exfoliation can be achieved by mechanical chemical means.
Over-exfoliating is one of the most common culprits of skin woes. I’ve seen it time and time again throughout my career as an esthetician. It happens to virtually everyone at some point in their life. Like most things, you don’t realize how bad it is until it’s really bad. Whether you’re guilty of layering too many actives (including acne and anti-aging specific products), using a heavy hand with your physical scrub or handheld cleansing device, trying every new chemical exfoliant that promises you beautiful skin, or simply doing too much, too often, the best remedy is shockingly also the simplest one: STOP. Yes, stop exfoliating. Not forever, but until your skin heals. Otherwise, in the short term you risk sensitivity, breakouts, redness, irritation, increased oiliness, and peeling. And in the long term, you risk compromising your skin’s barrier function, broken capillaries, dehydration, and stubborn acne that won’t seem to go away. Exfoliation is a powerful component in your routine, but committing to doing it properly ensures that your stratum corneum (the outermost layer of your skin) stays healthy and intact so your skin thrives. While your skin is healing, opt for gentle products, moisturize like crazy (you can apply Vitamin E directly to especially irritated spots), and don’t even think about skipping your sunscreen.
So how do you know if you should exfoliate? Take our quiz to find out!
Should I Exfoliate My Skin Today?
Question: When was the last time you exfoliated?
- 7+ days ago
- 4-6 days ago
- Less than 3 days ago
Question: How does my skin feel?
- Dry and rough
- Oily and bumpy
Question: How does my skin look?
- Red and bumpy
Question: What is your skin type?
- Normal (1)
- Oily or overactive
Now, add up your answers:
If your answers totaled 4-5, you’re safe to exfoliate!
If your answers totaled 6-8, wait at least two more days, then take this quiz again.
If your answers totaled 9-12, wait at least another week, then take this quiz again.
If you think you’re guilty of over-exfoliating, give your skin time to heal and consult with your esthetician before exfoliating again. My guess is that she’ll encourage you to wait another week. Most skin types benefit from exfoliation only once or twice per week, but this is completely dependent on your unique skin type and tolerance to exfoliation. Sensitive skin types should limit their exfoliation to once a week or once every other week. And when you’re ready, choose your exfoliator wisely. Our Raw + Wild Illuminating Honey Mask gently encourages cell turnover with the powers of raw honey, pearl extract, and Kaolin clay.