August 29, 2022 5 min read

Exfoliating Mistakes That Can Be Dangerous For Your Skin

Are you obsessed with skincare routines and want to know more about the perfect exfoliation regimen? Below, we talk about exfoliation, the benefits, downsides, and the common mistakes people make when exfoliating their skin.

Investing in a skincare routine is the perfect way to boost your confidence; looking good makes you feel good. However, many people feel that taking care of their skin is too much, hence neglecting its care. Our faces are exposed to a lot during the day, from the sun to dirt and germs. Therefore, sparing sometime in the morning and at night to pamper your skin is the perfect way to ensure it stays healthy. Taking care of your skin involves regular cleansing, using a good moisturizer, exfoliating, and applying a generous amount of sunscreen that protects your face from harsh UV rays.

Defining Exfoliation

Exfoliation is an important part of any skincare routine because it helps to get rid of dead cells on the outer surface of your skin. An exfoliant is important if you want smooth, glowing skin. Often when your skin fills with dead cells, it gives it a dull appearance which hinders its natural glow. However, there is much to what meets the eye; exfoliation is not just about getting rid of dead cells on the skin’s surface. Glenn (2008) noted that before exfoliating your skin, you should consider your skin type to purchase products that suit your skin type. Using the wrong products can result in acne and worse situations; they can dehydrate your face.

Exfoliating Mistakes To Avoid

Too Much Exfoliation

Regular exfoliating is the surest way to get rid of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. Exfoliators remove the junk and debris that accumulates on the skin to give you a glowing and smooth effect. However, take note of the number of times you exfoliate your skin because over-exfoliating can wreak havoc on your skin and, in worst-case scenarios, cause serious acne. Lambrecht & Hammad (2010) argued that the function of skin cells is to protect your skin from dirt, bacteria, and environmental damage. As we age, the skin cells take time to shed off the dead cells, which causes the skin to appear dull. Therefore, using the right amount and type of an exfoliant will help break down the debris on the skin's surface. However, over-exfoliating can break your skin's barrier and cause it to be dehydrated. In essence, your skin sheds off dead cells every 28 days, so when you over-exfoliate, you expose the fresh layer of skin, which can cause irritation, redness, and inflammation.

Using The Wrong Exfoliant

It is vital to note that there are two types of exfoliants; physical and chemical. Physical exfoliants include face scrubs, washcloths, sponges, loofahs, etc., while chemical exfoliants include products that contain active ingredients. The two main chemical exfoliants are beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid. The type of exfoliant or the exfoliation process you choose should depend on your skin type. Often, dermatologists advise against using physical exfoliators, especially if you have active acne or sensitive skin, because they are abrasive on the skin. To start an exfoliation regimen, you should pick an exfoliating method that will have a calming and gentle effect on the skin. If you have normal or oily skin, pick exfoliants with a mild concentration of salicylic acid. That way, you will not break your skin barrier and irritate your skin. For those who prefer professional exfoliating services, you can use chemical peels like an ultra AHA clinical pro peel which provides a host of benefits, from glowing and nourished skin to boosting the skin’s barrier.

Skipping On A Moisturizer After Exfoliating

Most people end up not reaping the benefits of a good exfoliant because they fail to follow up with a good moisturizer. Asthana et al. (2021) noted that exfoliating your skin leaves it bare and more prone to environmental irritations. Therefore, to ensure that your skin seals in moisture, it is important to use a good moisturizer. As obvious as it may sound, a good moisturizer will boost your skin’s protective barrier, thus keeping it well-nourished and hydrated.

Scrubbing Too Hard

Using a face scrub to exfoliate is the best way to ensure that your skin stays revitalized. Face scrubs are a cult favorite because they are cheap, and you can make your own desired face scrub with your preferred ingredients. Chang (2015) stated that face scrubs are made of small particles that can be abrasive on the skin. The small particles can cause tears on the skin and lead to more acne, especially for people with active acne.

How Often Should You Exfoliate?

Your exfoliation routine is solely dependent on your skin type and your exfoliation method. For example, if you have oily skin, you may need to exfoliate four times a week because you want your skin cells to unclog. People with dry skin may feel that exfoliating a week thrice will damage their skin and therefore opt to exfoliate twice a week. Note that when using physical exfoliation methods, you should reduce the number of times you use your physical exfoliator because physical exfoliators often damage the skin. However, regardless of the type of exfoliator you use, you must use it not more than thrice a week. If your exfoliant irritates your skin, stop using it and seek help from a certified dermatologist.

The Bottom Line

Exfoliation is using products to get rid of the dead cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface. There are two types of exfoliation products; physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators include face scrubs, sponges, oatmeal, etc., while chemical exfoliators include salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids. It is vital to note that chemical exfoliants have active ingredients; beta hydroxy acids and alpha hydroxy acids. When using an exfoliant, you should choose one that corresponds with your skin because using the wrong exfoliant can damage your skin barrier and cause acne to break out. Also, if you want to start exfoliating your skin but are unsure where to start, following the guide above will ensure that your skin absorbs all the benefits of an exfoliant.


Asthana, N., Pal, K., Aljabali, A. A., Tambuwala, M. M., De Souza, F. G., & Pandey, K. (2021). Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Mixed Green–Clay And Aloe Vera Based Polymeric Membrane Optimization: Peel-Off Mask Formulation For Skin Care Cosmeceuticals In Green Nanotechnology. Journal Of Molecular Structure, 1229, 129592.

Chang, M. (2015). Reducing Microplastics From Facial Exfoliating Cleansers In Wastewater Through Treatment Versus Consumer Product Decisions. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 101(1), 330-333.

Glenn, E. N. (2008). Yearning For Lightness: Transnational Circuits In The Marketing And Consumption Of Skin Lighteners. Gender & Society, 22(3), 281-302.

Lambrecht, B. N., & Hammad, H. (2010). The Role Of Dendritic And Epithelial Cells As Master Regulators Of Allergic Airway Inflammation. The Lancet, 376(9743), 835-843.