How to make sure you don't over-exfoliate

Exfoliating helps to remove dead, hardened skin cells from the surface, as well as unclog pores, smooth rough texture and brighten. It’s great and necessary for the skin, but like with all things, requires careful balance.

While all skin needs exfoliation, the type and frequency varies by person. Exfoliating too much or too aggressively, can compromise the skin barrier, leading to irritation, dryness, peeling, overproduction of oil and acne. 

Before you start to exfoliate, make sure your skin is hydrated. Dehydrated skin often presents itself as rough and bumpy, as your skin isn’t able to self-exfoliate. If this sounds like you, try adding in a hydrating serum or essence before opting for an exfoliating acid. If your skin is hydrated, you may proceed!

Tips to get started:

  • Pick one product suited for your skin type and concerns (check out our guide if you’re unsure!). Don’t overwhelm your skin by trying multiple products at once and give yourself at least 4-6 weeks to adjust.
  • Use that product one night a week, making sure the rest of your routine and the following nights are focused on repair and strengthening. 
  • If exfoliating once a week is too much for your skin at first, start by trying something like a cleanser or wash-off mask to minimize the risk of irritation. Even if something is meant to be left-on, you can ease your skin into it by washing it off the first few times.
  • Be aware of the signs of over exfoliating: redness, tightness, stinging, itching, flaking and burning. If you experience any of these, listen to your skin and pare back.
  • If you’re using other actives, like retinoids or vitamin C, use them at different times. In general, avoid using retinoids and exfoliants during the same routine, but you eventually may be able to tolerate using something exfoliating in the morning and a retinoid at night, for example.
  • Be mindful of ways you may already be exfoliating your skin, like washcloths, cleansing devices or even rubbing too hard while cleansing! We suggest avoiding these physical methods of exfoliation all together if you have inflamed acne and instead use a chemical exfoliant.

Once your skin is adjusted, you might decide to up the frequency or change the product.  Continue to be aware of the signs of over exfoliation and introduce any changes slowly. Remember not to treat concerns that aren’t there – you don’t need to add in additional exfoliating products or nights if what you’re doing is working for you!