Physical vs. Chemical Exfoliants
There are two different exfoliation methods, and both are pretty effective at removing dead skin cells, extra oil, and grime. A product is a physical exfoliator if it contains coarse sugar, coffee grounds, or something similar. Physical exfoliants are gritty items like face and body scrubs.
Contrarily, acid-based chemical exfoliants (like our Green Tea exfoliating body wash) include salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and various alpha, beta, and other hydroxy acids, which can assist in maintaining moisture while exfoliating the upper layers of the skin.
So What Happens If I Exfoliate Every Day?
However, just like extra-dry martinis, there are certain limitations to all that good – so think of them as two-edged swords. Dermatologists claim that excessive exfoliation happens all too often – particularly with the rise of the 'Clean Girl" trend on TikTok, which invites a fresh-faced, dewy and minimal makeup look to the chat. People believe that exfoliating equals flawless, smooth skin – but in reality, over-exfoliating is likely the single most significant contributor to breakouts. Damn.
Fortunately, there are tried and true methods you may use to determine if you're using scrubs, toners, and peels a little too vigorously – which starts with paying close attention to your body. So, without further ado, here’s how to identify over-exfoliation (and what the heck to do about it!)
How To Know If You've Over Exfoliated
Keep An Eye Out For Redness
Your exfoliating routine may be to blame if you notice that your skin is itchier and more irritated than usual. This applies to chemical and physical exfoliants, such as face scrubs (such as toners and peels containing hydroxy acids) which can lead to redness, itching, soreness, and eczema-like spots. In the case of those with particularly sensitive skin, excessive exfoliation can even result in damaged blood vessels beneath the skin.
Note Your Skin’s Texture
Over-exfoliated skin will lose elasticity and seem dry, rough, and flaky. It can even turn pink and develop a rash or eczema if the outermost layer of the epidermis doesn't contain enough water or becomes irritated. This effect can be amplified if you forgot to properly moisturize (and wear an SPF of 30 or higher throughout the day), as the skin needs barrier-building substances to account for the increased sensitivity brought on by exfoliants.
Roll Back The Steps If Necessary
“Do less” isn’t something we often like to bequest of our community – we would much rather you do your thing while doing the most. However, when it comes to remedying an over-zealous exfoliation route: less is best. Dial down the acids and scrubs and embrace gentle, nourishing hydration that will help build back your barriers. For anyone who suspects they may be using an exfoliant excessively, a board-certified dermatologist should be seen if you frequently experience redness, dryness, irritation, or anything else related.
Don't Be Afraid Of Exfoliation
Exfoliants don't need to be fully eliminated just because they can irritate your skin. Rather, they should be used smartly and sparingly, like so many of the best things in life (again with the martinis!) And, Because we shed 50 million dead skin cells a day – no jk! – exfoliation is actually a vital aspect of a skin routine.
So How Often Should We Exfoliate?
So, how often should we shed? For those with a balanced skin type, exfoliating more than once per week should be fine – as long as you’re using chemical exfoliates or physical exfoliants that have a very fine and gentle texture. Those with mixed or oily skin can exfoliate and are likely safe with three exfoliations per week. Like with all aspects of skincare and gelato flavours, no universal preference will be effective for everyone. The final decision regarding how and how often to exfoliate rests with your skin – so make sure you take a daily moment to pause and keep in touch with what it needs.
Happy Sundae x
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