The search for fresh, dewy, youthful skin sometimes seems to be never-ending. Serums and masks can be helpful in this endeavor, but some people take it to the extreme with harsh techniques that can leave the skin looking more red than radiant.
One of these techniques—exfoliation—isn’t inherently bad; in fact, it’s necessary for healthy skin. Many people are over-exfoliating their skin, however, and don’t necessarily get the results they’re looking for.
Why People Over-Exfoliate
There are several reasons men and women over-exfoliate their skin; very often, it’s because they don’t know any better and have never had guidance from a professional esthetician. They may think that the more they exfoliate, the fresher and smoother their skin will be, or that they’ll be able to get rid of certain skin conditions like dark spots.
Sometimes their over-exfoliation has to do with acne. They may have had acne when they were younger and are now trying to get rid of the scars. Or, they may still be using a prescription-strength acne product that could be making their skin more sensitive and lead to over-exfoliation.
And then there are some people who may just be addicted to the feeling of having their skin scrubbed clean and the idea of sloughing off a ton of dead skin cells.
What Over-Exfoliated Skin Looks Like
Most of us have seen over-exfoliated skin before. There’s no mistaking that sort of shiny, plastic look that happens when skin has been over-exfoliated with the help of chemicals (whether it’s daily exfoliation or professional peels). Over-exfoliated skin can also have pigmentation and texture issues: white spots, irritation around the nose, dryness and redness overall.
A telltale sign that skin is over-exfoliated is extreme sensitivity and redness. Neither of these convey the image of health and beauty that proper exfoliation should achieve.
The Problem With Over-Exfoliated Skin
When you exfoliate too often or aggressively, your skin becomes more reactive to the environment and products you’re using. Your skin acts as a barrier to the outside world and the fresh new cells that become exposed after an intense exfoliation are highly susceptible to irritation and damage. This can lead to skin issues, like dermatitis or severe sun damage, which may actually need to be addressed by a medical physician.
Nurture Over-Exfoliated Skin Back to Health
Once you’ve identified that your skin is over-exfoliated, healing it becomes the focus. The first thing to do is step away from the exfoliators. Then, check your other products for ingredients like acids (which exfoliate your skin), retinols, and other active ingredients that can be harsh on your skin, and switch to sensitive products until your skin normalizes a bit.
Trade in those exfoliators for serums that nourish and feed the skin with vitamins and botanicals and concentrated hydration. If serums are not a part of your regimen, start incorporating them immediately; use them just after cleansing or toning and before applying moisturizer.
Doctor D. Schwab’s Alpha Prho-LE® Enhancing Serum was designed for use after professional exfoliating treatments and contains three key peptides to improve skin texture, elasticity, firmness and moisture levels. It supports overall skin health, allowing the skin to heal itself while preventing and reversing environmental damage with advanced ingredients like grape stem cell extract and other antioxidants.
The G.S. Ginkgosome® has similar ingredients but also fights the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The time-release serum fights the environmental damage that causes aging while visibly improving skin’s tone, texture, firmness and vitality.
Carefully Step Back Into Exfoliation
We know it’s not a good idea to over-exfoliate to the point where skin is damaged, but at the same time, exfoliation is necessary to keep skin fresh and healthy. After you let your skin heal, you can begin to exfoliate again, but make sure you’re not exfoliating as often or as aggressively as you were.
Only exfoliate three times a week with at-home scrubs, and once every other week with enzymatic products (like pumpkin or papaya exfoliants). If you’re going to do professional treatments (like chemical peels and microdermabrasion), you should give your skin a full cycle to turn over between treatments—usually a month. And keep in mind that acid-based treatments can exacerbate problems in the skin, and are more powerful than enzyme-based procedures.
If you’re jumping back into a normal exfoliating routine at home, Doctor D. Schwab’s Bamboo Cream Peel is one of the safest and gentlest exfoliators on the market. It uses round exfoliating ingredients to produce a smoother, softer, more radiant complexion without tearing the skin or causing irritation.
For those with acne or oily skin, the SRG Super Removal Gel® is an excellent way to gently exfoliate the skin and unclog pores while dissolving blackheads. Leave on problem areas for about 45 seconds and then massage up and down to gently remove blackheads.
Exfoliation is an excellent and necessary tool to keep your skin healthy; you just have to stay away from going overboard. Find a healthy balance by limiting the amount of exfoliation, using gentle products and making sure you’re keeping your skin nourished and hydrated. Visit Doctor D. Schwab’s blog to find other ways to keep your skin youthful and radiant.