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Are you over-exfoliating your skin? Here are some telltale signs and tips on what you should do next

Published on:16 January 2021, 10:48am IST
Exfoliation for skin is the holy grail of skincare. However, too much of it is also bad. A renowned dermatologist will help you figure out whether you are over-exfoliating or not.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Stop killing your skin by over-exfoliating it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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If lately rashes, irritation, and redness are becoming increasingly visible on your skin, then one of the causes can be over-exfoliation. Without a doubt, our skin needs exfoliation to get rid of dead skin. But some of us are enthu-cutlets and think that the more we go for it, the better our skin will be. But shockingly, it is the other way round.

According to experts, exfoliation of skin exposes it to many problems that were not even present earlier. To give you a better idea of all that can happen and why, we asked a renowned dermatologist to shed some light on over-exfoliation, and this is what she had to say.    

Over-exfoliation can make your skin lifeless

When exfoliation is done right, it makes the skin much smoother, cleaner, better, and younger. But if you use an exfoliator that’s a bit rough on the skin, or apply it too much or too often, or, even if you combine two or more exfoliating agents, then it’s very likely that are going to over-exfoliate your skin. 

over exfoliation
Over-exfoliation can open up your pores and lead to acne. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Over-exfoliation can cause irritation, a feeling of soreness and possibly some redness. Swelling and puffiness are other symptoms of overdoing exfoliation. That makes it bad for the skin. When the exfoliating substance works a little too deep, it can damage your skin’s so-called lipid barrier. When this happens, our skin becomes rosy, puffy, or a bit swollen. Over-exfoliated skin can become so vulnerable and damaged that it can be easily inflamed. This inflammation can then escalate into an acne breakout. Using too much exfoliant also removes too much of the surface layer of the skin, taking away with it all the trapped moisture. 

So, with nothing to protect your skin from the elements, the hot air, and the sun’s rays, the newly uncovered young skin cells dry up quickly, dying, and falling off.

Telltale signs that you are over-exfoliating your skin

Over-exfoliating is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Generally, skin should be exfoliated only one to two times per week to help expedite skin cell turnover, without causing damage. 

There are various signs that tell you that you are over-exfoliating. These include irritation, redness, inflamed skin, plus your complexion can become dry and flaky. You may develop a rash like texture, leading to uneven tones like patchy, red blotches. Breakouts are another common reaction, especially small, rough, bumpy pimples. 

Skin is composed mainly of dead skin cells held together by an oil-based substance. This basic composition helps seal in hydration, while also providing natural lubrication. When you think your skin by removing too many layers through exfoliation, your skin becomes visibly dry and dehydrated. 

“This is because the impaired barrier is no longer able to keep moisture in the skin. If you’re exfoliating too much, you’re removing too many layers of natural protection. The skin is likely to become tight. Areas of peeling skin or visible flaking are the ultimate signs of over-exfoliation,” says Dr Nivedita Dadu, renowned dermatologist and founder and chairman of Dr Nivedita Dadu’s dermatology clinic.

She adds, “Flaking and peeling are caused by the same thing as dryness: loss of your skin’s natural barrier. But when dryness becomes excessive, it progresses to the next stage, which is visible loss of skin.”

over exfoliation
It can make your skin extremely dry. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Dadu suggests the right way to exfoliate

Exfoliation is the best way to maintain healthy and clear skin. It helps to get rid of all the dirt from the skin and boosts blood circulation at the same time. To exfoliate, wet your fingers and massage your face gently. Move your fingers in a circular motion and apply very little pressure on the face. 

Make sure that you scrub the area around your nose and your forehead very well, as those are the regions that  tend to have the maximum amount of dirt . Then, rinse your face with cold water and get rid of all the dirt. After that pat dry your face with a cotton towel. 

“The best way to exfoliate your skin is to make small, circular motions using your fingers to apply a scrub or use an exfoliating tool, according to your skin type. If you are using a brush, make short, light strokes. Exfoliate for about 30 seconds and then rinse your face with lukewarm water. Keep in mind that the water should not be too hot. Avoid exfoliating if your skin has cuts, open wounds, or is sunburnt. After exfoliation, apply moisturizer with sunscreen,” she explains.

The moral of the story is, overdoing ain’t going to help your skin. So, do not over-exfoliate and shine bright like a diamond.   

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.