Four Signs You’re Over-Exfoliating (And What You Can Do About It)

I’m not sure I enjoy anything more than exfoliating my skin. It’s like a literal burst of adrenaline every time I reveal a teeny glow – which is also what makes it super easy to keep going back for more.

You see, as fun as it is to exfoliate, it can be a little bit harder to revert your skin back to a healthy state when you go OTT on the acids. Hence why I wanted to chat about the signs to look out for if you’re an exfoliating addict like me.

Before you run off and attempt to give up exfoliating all together – don’t. It’s so essential. It keeps your skin healthy, your pores clear and helps you say bye to any unwanted dead skin cells… in turn keeping your regular skin cell turnover happy, and your face feeling glowy and bright. 

Plus, when you are exfoliating properly (FYI: how often is very individual based on skin type and is hard to determine) your serums and moisturisers will work more efficiently and penetrate a lot better into the skin. However, when you exfoliate, you want it to leave your skin looking fresh and healthy, not red/irritated or sensitised.

So, let’s take note of some of the common signs you may be over-exfoliating below.

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Sign #1: ACNE

You might actually be thinking that exfoliating your skin is helping you deal with your acne (which it can), however when you’ve over-exfoliated, this tiny step can actually be the cause of your acne too.

You see, over-exfoliating weakens the skin barrier and when your skin barrier is compromised? Your face just won’t have the power to defend itself against bacteria and infections leading to… you guessed it – developing acne.

A strong, healthy barrier is a must in the fight against breakouts so take note of your pimples. Are they not going away no matter how much you exfoliate? Maybe it’s time you stripped it back and focused on hydration instead.

Sign #2: INCREASED DRYNESS/DEHYDRATION

I can often tell when I’ve over-exfoliated whenever I’m sitting in the car in direct sunlight and notice my makeup creasing in my newly developed, sahara-esque fine lines. Because over-exfoliating can make your skin severely dehydrated.

You may also notice dry/flaky patches and your foundation could even start to sit funny. Hence why it’s also important to follow any exfoliation with a shiz ton of hydration.

Sign #3: REDNESS, SENSITIVITY, IRRITATION

Have you ever exfoliated your skin and been left with a red face? It’s super common. However, if your face remains red for the days that follow, or you can’t seem to tolerate/it stings to use your usual serums, then maybe the exfoliator you used was too harsh for your skin. Which is why it’s important to know the strength of the products that you’re using, are suited to your skin type.

In many instances sensitised, red or irritated skin is something that can be avoided (this is also why it’s important not to blindly follow an Insta model’s skincare routine, hoping for the same result.)

Sign #4: OIL AND SHINE

In the same way over-exfoliating can lead to dehydrated/dry skin, for many it can reveal itself entirely in the opposite way. With an increase in your oil production. This is generally just oily/combo skin types trying to compensate/protect itself by producing excess oil - YAY.

Additionally, when you look in the mirror and notice your forehead is kinda shiny you should really pull back on your exfoliation methods as well. Shininess is a sign of skin being stripped back way too far and you need to stop because it’s messing with your skin barrier. 

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Anyway, if you have over-exfoliated, (we’ve all been there) it’s so important to stop and let your skin re-calibrate/return back to its normal state. So these are a few changes I would make...

When you’ve over-exfoliated, ensuring you’re using a calming, hydrating cleanser is key. It’ll help your skin re-balance and stop it from being stripped further. This cleanser by mesoestetic is a great option to use as it’s specifically been designed for post in clinic treatments such as laser making it super gentle and ensuring it won’t dry you out. It does contain a teeny bit of fragrance although I’ve never found it too bothersome. A great option for naturally sensitive skin.

Next on your list of things to swap out are all of your active serums. Instead opting for a gentle hydrating serum. This Cosmedix HA serum contains Niacinamide to strengthen and literally smells like gummy bears it’s the best. Gentle enough to use both AM and PM it’ll give back to your skin the hydration it’s craving while simultaneously calming any irritation.

If you continue to suffer from chronic redness or skin irritation I’d also add Aspect’s Red-Less 21 serum to cart. It’s filled with a whole range of ingredients including seabuckthorn which is amazing at protecting and helping to minimise any discomfort when your skin is out of whack.

After you’ve over-exfoliated sometimes it’s just easy to look for products specifically designed to rebuild your barrier. This moisturiser will provide instant hydration without weighing your skin down. It’s super calming too - like a warm blanket for your face.