When You Exfoliate Too Much, This Is What Happens

Skin care is a multibillion-dollar global industry, and new trends are popping up all the time that promise to give you a fresh, glowing complexion. Skin exfoliation is the process of either chemically or mechanically removing dead cells to reveal new skin underneath (via theĀ American Academy of Dermatology Association). And while it's not necessarily a new trend, the rise in the number and variety of exfoliants on the market has led to some serious issues for people who don't use the products correctly.

While your skin does naturally exfoliate itself, speeding up the process by sloughing off dull cells can help clear up common issues like dryness and breakouts (via theĀ Journal of Dermatological Science). Depending on your skin type and even skin tone, certain types of exfoliants may work better than others. Mechanical exfoliation uses something like a brush, sponge, or washcloth to physically scrub off dead skin. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals like certain acids to dissolve dead skin cells. Both work to achieve the same goal, and both can cause serious damage if used too much.

What your skin may be trying to tell you

In order to achieve results without damaging your skin, dermatologists recommend exfoliating two times per week at most (via Healthline). You may also want to look at the products you're already using to make sure they won't cause extra sensitivity or even cause your skin to peel when you start exfoliating. If you've been exfoliating more frequently than recommended and notice redness, irritation, peeling, or even breakouts, your skin may be trying to send you an urgent message to give it a rest.

Too often, that shiny surface that you may think is a sign of healthy, glowing skin, is actually a sign that the skin is over-exfoliated to the point that you've actually removed a protective layer of oils and new skin. This can also make your skin more sensitive to other products. If you notice any of these signs of over-exfoliation, immediately stop and give your skin a chance to heal. Mild cleansers and products to seal in your skin's moisture will help build up a natural layer of protection and avoid further irritation. And before you jump back into the exfoliation game, remember to be kind to your skin and don't overdo it.