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  • August 22, 2022 5 min read

    Are You Over-Exfoliating With Face Scrubs? How To Tell And Reverse The Damage

    If you use too much exfoliation, you risk overdosing on a good thing. Eradicating skin pollutants daily is good, but overdoing it may irritate the skin. Redness and irritation are possible side effects of over-exfoliating the skin. Consistent exfoliation is the key to a brighter, more even skin tone.

     Dead skin cells, oil, and debris may be removed in two ways: mechanically and chemically. You may use physical exfoliants, items like face and body scrubs that include coffee grounds, coarse sugar, or anything else that can be used to remove dead skin cells from the surface. On the other side, chemical exfoliants are acid-based and include alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid, for example. These hydrates and assist your skin retain moisture while exfoliating the top layers of your skin. However, all of that good comes with certain downsides, so treat them both as two-edged swords. A prevalent problem among dermatologists is over-exfoliation.

    Maintaining a healthy and moisturized skin relies on the production of oils by the skin itself. To keep a healthy shine on our skin, do not over-exfoliate it. The improper exfoliation may be excessively forceful or unpleasant for your skin if you use it too often. You may be anxious to see results, but it's crucial to follow the correct measures, which involve some patience.

    Is It Possible To Over-Exfoliate?

    There are three types of skin: oily, dry, and mixed. Depending on your skin type, you'll know how frequently to exfoliate without overdoing it. An oily complexion is characterized by a shine and larger pores, particularly in the t-zone. According to Pappas et al.  (2009),Oily skin is more prone to clogged pores due to an overabundance of sebum (also known as oily secretion). Exfoliating twice or thrice a week is generally suggested to maintain healthy and bright skin and keep it balanced. Due to a lack of lipids in the skin, a dry skin type feels dry and uncomfortable.

    Consequently, the skin might become dry, flaky, dull, and discolored. Because your skin lacks natural oils, exfoliation isn't as required. You may benefit from using it once or twice a week in your skincare regimen. Combination skin contains an oily t-zone and dryness over the rest of the face, making it difficult to tell which is which. Stick to twice to three times a week at first and adapt as required, depending on whether your skin is oilier or drier than the average. Only exfoliate the parts of your face that need it, such as the bridge of your nose or forehead, if you have mixed skin.

    Disrupting your skin's equilibrium by deviating from an exfoliation regimen tailored to your skin type might lead to:

    • Chronic erythema
    • Skin weakness
    • Irritation
    • Breakouts of acne

    The discomfort might also be felt if your skin is very sensitive. Over-exfoliation removes healthy skin cells and oil, leaving the skin raw and vulnerable to the surroundings. Consequently, your skin's suppleness may deteriorate, split, or peel. The prescribed exfoliation for your skin type should be followed, but you should also pay attention to how your skin responds. Cream for sensitive skin might help calm it down if it becomes too sensitive or inflamed. You may find that regular exfoliating might irritate your skin if you have oily skin and a history of acne. Exfoliation may be increased by one or two days for those with dry skin who notice a buildup of tiny pimples or blackheads owing to excessive sweating around the nose and hairline. Find out what works best for your skin, and then stick to it. Finally, your skin's type and evolution are influenced by various factors, including nutrition, age, hormones, genetics, and the environment. The quantity of water you drink and how much sleep you receive significantly impact your skin's texture and tone. Your face may be oily than normal on certain days, while it may be dry on others. Your skin care regimen should alter as your skin improves or worsens.

    Over-Exfoliating? Here's What To Do.

    Nikalji et al.  (2012) advised stopping exfoliating until your skin has healed and returned to its baseline texture if you experience any of the responses listed above after exfoliating, whether from an aggressive face-scrubbing session or an application of acids. When it comes to the definition of "baseline texture," it's a matter of personal preference; in general, it refers to your skin's texture before overexposure. This will be your default texture if you've always had oily skin. You're simply waiting for the over-exfoliation symptoms to subside, including redness, irritation, and skin peeling.

    Tips For Recovering From Over-Exfoliation

    • Retinol products, foamy cleansers, and other exfoliants should be avoided.
    • Use a gentle cleanser and a fragrance-free moisturizer to eliminate the odors.

    Momeni et al. (2018) suggested applying a thick emollient like Aqua Veil or Aquaphor on severely red or raw areas. An aloe gel or hydrocortisone cream may also be used. Your skin might take up to a month to get back on track, which is the duration of a skin cell cycle. Amid agitation, there are techniques to alleviate it. You may use a cold compress or hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness and irritation after an over-exfoliation incident, which can be done immediately afterward. Using the genuine aloe plant instead of aloe gel will assist. According to Ramachandra& Rao (2008),Aloe gel is also considered to have healing characteristics but can sometimes be unpleasant depending on how exposed and raw the regions are. The remainder of your skin care regimen may also need to be reworked. Retinol products (which are too harsh for use on weakened skin) and any physical or chemical exfoliators should be avoided since they might dry up the skin and worsen existing problems. Simplicity is the objective.

    When May You Begin To Exfoliate Your Skin Again?

    Even if you've had some exfoliating irritation, you don't have to give up on the product completely. Doctors say you may gradually return your favorite scrubs or acids into your skincare routine after your skin fully recovers.


    Exfoliation is ideal for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. However, over-exfoliation leads to irritation and redness of the skin, which damages the skin and strips some essential oils and nutrients. This article guides consumers on identifying if one has over-exfoliated, the steps to reverse the exfoliation, and the duration one should take before exfoliating again. Users are advised to adhere to these guidelines, and if the irritation and redness persist, they should consult a dermatologist for further treatment.


    Momeni, K., Ji, Y., Zhang, K., Robinson, J. A., & Chen, L. Q. (2018). Multiscale framework for simulation-guided growth of 2D materials. npj 2D Materials and Applications, 2(1), 1-7.

    Nikalji, N., Godse, K., Sakhiya, J., Patil, S., & Nadkarni, N. (2012). Complications of medium depth and deep chemical peels. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 5(4), 254.

    Pappas, A., Johnsen, S., Liu, J. C., &Eisinger, M. (2009). Sebum analysis of individuals with and without acne. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(3), 157-161.

    Ramachandra, C. T., & Rao, P. S. (2008). Processing of Aloe vera leaf gel: a review. American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences, 3(2), 502-510.