Exfoliating- Are You Doing Too Much?

Exfoliating- Are You Doing Too Much?

January 06, 2020

We all know exfoliating is good for the skin.  It helps reveal brighter more radiant skin, but how much should you do? And how often?  Can you exfoliate too much? And do you need a scrub brush? 

What is Exfoliation?

Exfoliation is when the uppermost layer of the skin, or the epidermis sheds its top layer.  (Yes, even the layers of the skin have layers!)  This natural exfoliation is pre-programed into our DNA and takes place roughly every few weeks.  

So How Can You Help Exfoliate?

There are two different types of exfoliation you can do.  One is mechanical, the other is chemical.

MECHANICAL- Believe or not, just the simple act of washing your face in the morning and evening will help the skin with the exfoliation process.  Another simple method is a gentle dry brush or skin gloves used every other evening (at the most).  And lastly, a power brush, like the Clarisonic.  Which incidentally, I never recommend to patients because I believe it leads to over exfoliating...but more on that later.  

CHEMICAL-  This entails using a topical product to help shed the upper layer of skin. The ingredients are typically retinols, including prescriptions like Retin A, salicylic acid or some type of glycolic acid (AHA/ BHA).   Other than simply washing your face, be sure to never combine chemical and mechanical exfoliation methods which can result in over exfoliating.

Signs you are overdoing it:

  • redness
  • flaking
  • peeling
  • sensitivity to other products. 
  • worsening acne like breakouts.

So you should pick EITHER chemical or mechanical exfoliating not both.  A mechanical gentle method should be done about three times a week, unless you are in love with your power scrubbing, then use it once a week tops!

For chemical exfoliating, I generally recommend weekly unless it is a prescription retinoid being used for acne. In which case, use it as directed by your Dermatologist/ Derm PA.

How To Fix Over Exfoliated Skin:

STOP EVERYTHING!  Yes, just give your skin a break for several days.  NO scrubbing, rubbing or peeling and stick to bland products.  Use a non foaming cleanser, that won't further irritate your skin.  Theoderma’s Carrot Root Cleansing Lotion is a gentle, moisturizing cleanser that can give you all the benefits of carrot root extract in a single bottle.  

Additionally, using a product line without hidden ingredients or contamination from non-vegan ingredients would be ideal. Browse our product line to see other mindfully-crafted, Leaping Bunny-certified cleansers, moisturizers, serums, sunscreen and more.

Savy Guthrie has been a PA working in dermatology for 17 years and has worked in medicine for 20 years overall.  She has treated tens of thousands of patients, helping them achieve healthy, beautiful skin. 

Savy Guthrie is a dermatology PA with 17 years of patient care experience and is the founder of Theoderma Skin Care.

Savy with her dog

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