Over-Exfoliated Skin: How to Heal It?
This detailed guide to exfoliation covers everything you need to know, including how to heal over-exfoliated skin.
No matter what your skin type, exfoliation is a necessary component of any skincare regimen, but there is a thin line between it being helpful and harmful. If you rush to exfoliate when you notice pimples or dull skin, you may have over-exfoliated.
Unexpectedly frequently, over-exfoliation occurs. It can be brought on by using exfoliating products that are too harsh for your skin, in addition to being caused by exfoliating too frequently. In either case, excessive exfoliation seriously weakens the natural defenses of your skin.
Fortunately, by making a few adjustments to your routine, you can restore your complexion. There are a number of ways to treat over-exfoliated skin.
Signs of Over-exfoliation
One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is over-exfoliating. In order to speed up skin cell turnover without causing harm, the skin should typically only be exfoliated once to twice per week.
Yup, one to two times per week. There’s a good chance your skin is pleading for a break if you’ve been using exfoliating acids on a daily basis.
Your skin may eventually start to dry out and flake. You might even start to feel rash-like, which would cause your skin to tone unevenly (like patchy, red blotches). Another frequent response is breakouts, particularly those that appear as small, scaly, bumpy pimples.
- Redness: Redness of the skin can be the first sign of overly exfoliated skin.
- Dehydrated, dry skin: Not all cases of dry skin are caused by weather changes. If you over-exfoliate, you might develop dry patches and facial skin that is flaking off.
- Peeling or burning: The idea that a product is effective when your skin starts to burn is erroneous. It’s actually the opposite. Burning and peeling are signs that the skin barrier is probably compromised. “A healthy skin barrier is important for skin luminosity, smooth texture, and to prevent irritation and redness,” Ciraldo shares. “Dermatitis, aging, and irritant ingredients in skincare products, including but not limited to exfoliants, can all harm the healthy skin barrier.”
- Small pimples: The small pimples that are appearing are your skin’s way of telling you that you’ve overdone it, not your skin purging.
Some of these symptoms, as we mentioned above, can make you feel as though you need to exfoliate more, but you should resist. Instead, follow these instructions.
What to Do If You’ve Over-exfoliated?
The first thing to do is stop exfoliating until your skin has healed and returned to its normal texture if you notice any of the aforementioned reactions after exfoliating, whether from an overzealous face-scrubbing session or an application of acids.
At least four weeks should pass without exfoliating. Your skin will remain particularly sensitive during this month-long period as your skin regenerates.
Switch to a Milder Cleanser
The protective layer of your skin can become damaged by more than just exfoliation; harsh cleansers can also have this effect.
Your top priority right now should be allowing your skin to heal as quickly as possible, so replace any abrasive cleansers with gentler substitutes.
Stay Away from Harsh Ingredients
Over-exfoliated skin frequently develops skin irritants. Even if you’ve been using the same product for years, your skin will probably react to it if it contains even a few harsh ingredients.
It’s time to conduct a stock check of all the products you use in your skin care regimen to avoid this from happening. Have a read through the ingredients list of each one, and make sure that they don’t contain any of the following:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
Put them away until your skin has healed if you observe any of the aforementioned symptoms. However, you might also want to consider the components that you apply to your skin. It has been established that some of the above, like parabens, are extremely harmful to internal health.
Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Recall how we said that excessive exfoliation damages the barrier that shields your skin. That barrier serves two main purposes:
- In order to stop moisture from evaporating, it keeps moisture in the skin locked up. This keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized
- It prevents impurities and allergens from the environment around you from entering your skin
Your skin is extremely vulnerable because that barrier is currently inactive. It is best to frequently moisturize in order to keep it protected on a daily basis.
Look for Products Containing Restorative Ingredients
The ideal ingredients for the skin care products you use are those that will make your skin feel healthy. Here are some of the ingredients that your skin could really do with right now:
- Hyaluronic acid
- Amino acids
Add a Vitamin C Serum to Your Skincare Routine
Antioxidants are among the most advantageous ingredients you might be using on your over exfoliated skin, which we’ve already covered. Although there are many different antioxidants, vitamin C is one that is absolutely necessary.
Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Do you always wear sunscreen before leaving the house, covering any exposed skin completely? If the answer is no, your skin’s already excessive exfoliation will suffer even more harm from this.
As you know, There are several ways that UV rays can harm the skin. Along with the protein fibers that are located deeper within your skin, they obliterate the barrier that protects it. If you want your over-exfoliated skin to heal as quickly as possible, you should be attempting to strengthen rather than weaken all of these factors.
This makes daily sun protection a must. This applies to cloudy and overcast days as well as sunny days since the sun’s UV rays can pass through dense clouds. Since many people are unaware of how vulnerable their skin still is when they can’t feel the heat of the sun shining down, this is frequently when the most damage takes place.
Ideally, use an Apply SPF 30 and reapply it every two to three hours.
Introducing Exfoliation Back into Your Skincare Routine
You should ideally start to notice improvements in your skin after four to six weeks. Over-exfoliation side effects should start to fade, and your skin will gradually start to look healthier and more radiant.
Now that this has happened, you can start thinking about adding exfoliation back into your skin care regimen.
Now, as you can imagine, you need to be careful doing this: Move too fast and you’ll only end up over-exfoliating all of those new skin cells, leaving you back at square one once again.
For starters, exfoliate your skin once a week after it has fully healed. Take a few weeks to do this, then up the frequency to twice per week. You shouldn’t need to increase it any further than this; for most skin types, biweekly exfoliation is sufficient. The only exception is if you have sensitive skin, in which case you should limit your exfoliation to once per week.
Choosing the Right Exfoliating Products for Your Skin
Exfoliants can be split into two main categories:
- Chemical exfoliants – these contain acids that dissolve away the glue-like substance that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin, allowing them to be washed off
- Physical exfoliants – these make use of an abrasive substance to physically scrub dead skin cells off the skin
Due to the word “chemical” in chemical exfoliation products, people often assume that this category is the harsher one. However, this is where you would be wrong…
Actually, chemical exfoliants are much gentler than their physical counterparts. They spare you from having to scrub and pull at the skin, which frequently has the opposite effect of what you intended.
Choose the chemical exfoliant that is most appropriate for your skin type from the many available. For instance, glycolic acid, which is known to be the most potent, maybe the best choice for people with normal or combination skin.
A milder formulation, such as one that contains lactic acid, would be better for people with dry or sensitive skin.
Either way, when using a new exfoliating product for the first time, remember to always perform a patch test first. This will prevent you from having to deal with any reactions that affect your entire face by ensuring that your skin can tolerate the new product properly.
How Can You Prevent Over-exfoliated Skin?
Go slowly and pay attention to your skin. Choose an exfoliator that matches your skin concerns because not everyone has the traditional skin types. He advises selecting a salicylic acid-based exfoliator if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
Finding an exfoliator with hydrating ingredients in its formula is beneficial for people with dry skin. Poly-hydroxy acids, a mild type of chemical exfoliation, are recommended for those who are sensitive.
I typically advise beginning with twice a week when introducing exfoliation into your routine. Increasing the frequency is possible if the skin is not too dry or irritated. Sensitive skin may only require one exfoliation, whereas oily skin types can exfoliate up to three or four times per week.
The weather should also be taken into account when exfoliating in addition to skin type. Exfoliating frequency varies with the seasons because it is easier to tolerate during the warmer months. Finding what is most effective for you is what matters in the end.
When to See a Physician?
Although it can be frightening to see and feel your skin at its worst, keep your cool. If you let your skin, it has the ability to heal itself. Ciraldo advises taking photos every day to see if your symptoms are getting better or getting worse as your skin heals.
Our board-certified dermatologists advise making an appointment with a specialist if the symptoms persist after you’ve stopped using all irritants.