Every other day, your body sheds thousands of dead skin cells and replaces them with new ones. Although most of these dead skin cells naturally slough off your body, a fine layer rests at the very top of your epidermis. An excessive buildup of dead cells on this surface eventually causes your skin that appear dull and rough.
Using an exfoliant at prescribed intervals, depending on your skin type, is the surest way to assist the skin’s natural sloughing process and remove these dead cells from your skin’s surface.
In fact, exfoliating can leave skin looking and feeling baby soft, smooth, and gorgeous. No wonder experts call it “the #1 skin game changer” when it comes to seeing a visible result— aside helping to reveal younger-looking skin, it makes it easier for skin care ingredients to absorb and deliver results.
You can help your skin get rid of these dead cells in two main ways: physical or chemical exfoliation.
While physical exfoliation involves manual loofahs, brushes, grainy products like coarse sugar, coffee grounds, or anything similar used for scrubbing, chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses gentle chemicals such as water-soluble alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid and oil-soluble beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid.
Simply put, physical exfoliation requires some manual labour on your part, while chemical exfoliation lets a product do all the hard work.
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But do you also know that too much exfoliation, be it physical or chemical, can strip your skin of its natural oil, landing you in serious trouble?
Yes! There is such a thing as too much exfoliation— which is nearly the single most significant cause of breakouts; and here are key ways to know exactly when to re-assess your exfoliating product or frequency, or consult a certified dermatologist.
1. Redness and Irritation
It’s not unusual for the skin to be slightly red immediately following exfoliation, but if it remains red hours after or the next day, that means you need to tone it back a bit. Sometimes, the skin can get itchy or you may experience a slight burning sensation when applying a chemical exfoliant, signaling that your skin’s barrier has been broken down by your exfoliation.
2. Increased dryness and flakiness
Over-exfoliation can cause your skin to become dehydrated and dry. If you notice that you are developing dry patches or flakes, you may be over-doing it. This is why it’s also important always follow exfoliation with hydrating and moisturising products.
3. Face is too oily
For oily, combination, and some normal skin types, the dehydration may manifest itself in the form of the overproduction of oil. This is because your skin over-compensates by producing excess oil to protect itself and try to re-hydrate. This is why even oily skin types need to moisturise.
4. Increased acne
Over-exfoliation is a major reason why people develop acne or why it won’t go away. Moderate amounts of exfoliation is a great way to prevent pimples as it keeps the pores clear of debris. Excessive skin rubbing can actually weaken the skin so it can’t defend itself against any bacteria.
5. Face becomes too shiny
This shininess is actually the result of your skin being stripped of its natural texture, and is an indicator of a weakened skin barrier. Your dewiness should come from essences, moisturisers, and other sources of hydration – not your stripping exfoliators.
6. Skin feels tight
Sometimes we feel like our skin is tight after washing your face but when you have been over exfoliating, your skin will feel perpetually tight; which you will notice each time you make a facial gesture. This can feel uncomfortable and cause other skin related issues such as cracked dry skin.