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7 Signs That Prove You’re Over-Exfoliating Your Skin

Exfoliation is a crucial beauty routine for the skin. Understandably, you might find yourself making a common skincare mistake that people do, over-exfoliating. So, what happens when you overdo this vital skincare step or underperform it?

Well, our experience will tell you that you will not like either of the two outcomes. Unfortunately, under-exfoliation means that your favorite products will not penetrate your dull, rough skin. On the other hand, too much scrubbing, and you might end up dealing with an uncomfortable and abused skin barrier.

If you are unsure whether you are overdoing this necessary but occasionally sensitive routine, you only need to take a look at your skin for these common signs.

Since everyone’s skin is unique, it is up to you to find the delicate balance between over-exfoliating and getting it right. If your skincare cabinet is filled with an arsenal of acids, scrubs, and multiple exfoliators, you might want to take a back seat and decide the limit for your skin type. This will take you a long way to avoiding the negative signs of over-exfoliating. Knowing your skin limits will ensure you always have a healthy, bouncy, and glowing skin.

Of course, how many times you exfoliate varies from one person to the other. The first thing you want to do is make sure you are adhering to your product instructions and take it from there. If you start noticing some of the signs that we will mention below, then it’s time to cut back on the frequency.

In all cases, over-exfoliating signs will vary depending on your skin type, skin condition, products used, and how frequently you exfoliate. Hence, everyone’s symptoms will be unique based on those factors. Below are the most common signs of over-exfoliating you need to look out for;

#1. Inflammation, Itching and Increased Sensitivity

When your skin starts to turn red, become reactive and itchy, then you are obviously over-exfoliating. Of course, this is a sign that your skin barrier has been compromised. Without the skin’s protective layer, your skin is exposed to irritants and allergens that may cause damage. When that happens, the towels and washcloths you use can further irritate your skin. At this point, even a sweaty workout session can irritate your skin. At worst, your skin can even be prone to skin conditions like dermatitis.

#2. Your Breakouts Are Not Recovering, They Are Increasing

When your skin’s protective barrier has been breached, bacteria can enter and turn your skin into a pimple playground. Too much exfoliation can add inflammation to our skin, adding heat and hypersensitivity. An increase in inflammation lowers your skin’s chances of winning the acne battle. When setting up your exfoliation routine, make sure you set the right limits for your skin.

#3.  Your Skin Looks Artificial and Shiny

The appearance of shiny and artificial looking skin is almost a guarantee when you use acids or retinol to exfoliate. Artificial skin looks waxy and plastic-like. Hence, the light will reflect off your over-processed skin when your natural texture becomes too smooth. This creates an unnatural appearance. Artificial looking skin is common with people who overuse prescription-strength retinoids like Retin-A.

If this sounds like you, it may be time to reevaluate your choice of retinoid to suit your skin type.

#4. Your Skin is Tight and Dry

Another common sign of over-exfoliating is dry, tight skin. Ever felt like you can’t smile for a second without your face cracking? Does your skin feel even tighter or drier after cleansing? Well, that is what happens when your skin is stripped of its natural oils that allow it to lubricate itself.

#5. Rough, Flaky and Peeling Skin

Rough skin is yet another definite sign that your skin barrier has been neglected and compromised. The next side effect is a loss of the skin’s ability to retain water. As such, any moisture you apply to your skin will escape without your skin’s protective barrier. The result is a rough-textured skin with flaky patches and peeling. The unwanted texture might give you the false impression that your skin needs more exfoliation. In reality, that is the last thing you want to do to your skin at that point.

#6. Dehydrated, Creepy Looking Skin

All skin types can become dehydrated with over-exfoliation high on the culprit’s list. At worst, dehydration will exhibit itself as dry, rough, and not so good looking skin. Another telltale sign of dehydrated skin is the sudden appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, seemingly appearing out of thin air. If you start to feel that your eyes are looking creepy, or your expression lines are more visible than usual, take that as a sign that your skin is feeling thirsty. However, do not run to Botox just yet, simply rehydrate and try healing your skin first.

#7. Your Skin Is Oilier Than Usual

One reaction of skin feeling tight and dry is an attempt to compensate for the lost, natural oils, or sebum. This helps the skin protect itself from water loss. The abused and compromised skin barrier has a natural reaction to repair itself.


By now, you might have already noticed the main theme surrounding over-exfoliating. It all comes down to too much scrubbing causing an abused and compromised skin barrier. The natural skin barrier is vital for achieving the beautiful, youthful skin that we all desire. Your skin barrier has a direct connection and impact on how bouncy, glowing, and healthy your skin looks and feels.

Your main focus should be keeping your barrier safe in your skincare routine, regardless of your age or skin type. Of course, the first thing you need towards keeping your skin barrier healthy is finding your personal balanced zone for exfoliation. Not too little, not too much, you want it just right.

Now, go get that perfect exfoliation routine up and running and say hello to a healthy, happy place without all these annoying symptoms.

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