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Can excess exfoliation damage the skin?

by Noelle OConnor on 0 Comments

As it turns out, you can have too much of a good thing..

While exfoliating your skin is the key to achieving a perfect tan that will last, the recent popularity of cell-scrubbing toners, cleansers, grains, and serums means that many skincare enthusiasts are exfoliating a bit too much and a bit too often.

The skin produces oils that keep it healthy and hydrated. Over-exfoliation can strip our face of what it needs to maintain a glowing complexion. Too much of the wrong type of exfoliation may be too aggressive or irritating for your skin type. You may be eager to get cleaner, softer skin, but it’s important to take the proper steps, which requires a little bit of patience.

The problem is, many of the signs that tell you when you need to exfoliate are also the same signs that tell you when you’re over exfoliating. The basic rule of thumb is that you should exfoliate once or twice a week. So, if you've been slathering on acids and retinol on a daily basis, YOU NEED TO STOP.

There are two main methods of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Mechanical exfoliation involves using a hard substance to manually remove dead skin cells. You’ve probably used mechanical exfoliation products without even realizing it if you’ve used cleansers or other skincare products that contain microbeads. On the other hand, chemical exfoliation utilizes acids or enzymes to remove dead skin cells. You should decide which method is best for you based off your skin type, but regardless which method you use, the signs of over-exfoliating are the same.

7 signs you are over-exfoliating your skin - GHP News

Signs of excess exfoliation:

  • irritation, burning, or peeling
  • redness and inflammation
  • breakouts, especially small pimples
  • increased sensitivity to other products in your routine

Your skin is made up of layers, each of which performs important functions in protecting your body. We apply exfoliator to the body’s outermost layer, called the skin barrier. Your skin barrier is your body’s frontline defence against everything the world throws at you. Keeping it healthy is much more than a cosmetic concern. Building a strong skin barrier will really benefit the appearance of your skin in the long run. When you over-exfoliate your skin, you’re not only taking away the unwanted dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin but also the functional skin barrier that are present to protect you in the first place. In the end, you’ll be left worse off as your skin is left open to bacteria, pollutants and irritants. So, if you’ve been exfoliating like mad, and you’ve noticed you now have uncomfortable, irritated skin, well that’s what we call a damaged skin barrier.

There’s no need to worry, everything can be fixed, but it will take some time.

Here’s some of the things you can do to nurse your skin back to health:

  1.  Immediately stop using whatever was over-exfoliating your skin.
  2. Use a mild, non-foaming cleanser.
  3. Treat red or raw areas with a nutrient-rich emollient, such as aloe vera.
  4. Finish your routine with a serum that contains vitamin E o lock in moisture and promote healing, such as the TanOrganic Skin Magic Wonder Serum.
  5. Use sunscreen every day to protect your skin from even more damage (check out our latest blog post on the importance of protecting your skin from the sun)


Little-known fact: Your skin exfoliates itself. The natural process is called desquamation. It usually takes 28 days from start to finish, during which time new skin cells develop, mature, and shed. After an over-exfoliation mishap, it could take as long as a month—aka a full skin cell cycle—for your skin to feel normal again, so it’s important that you let your skin recover before adjusting your skincare routine and incorporating more products.

There’s lot to learn when it comes to skincare. It’s a tough job to stay on top of, but if you ever have any questions or need advice you can read some of our other blog posts or contact us on social media.

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