Honestly, we get it. Body scrubs feel great, are beneficial for the skin, and are fun to use. But that doesn’t mean we should be using them every day, especially when those scrubs or other products in your routine also contain active chemical exfoliants like glycolic and lactic acids.
Scrubbing your skin daily is a sure-fire way to risk over-exfoliating your skin and leading to more skin issues down the line. Here’s how to know if you’ve over-exfoliated and what to do about it.
Benefits of Exfoliating Your Skin
Before we dive into the signs of over-exfoliation, we want to make clear how essential exfoliation is for the skin—as long as it’s done right and just often enough. Exfoliating with a body scrub (or other exfoliants such as dry brushing and AHA-infused body washes and lotions) helps prevent and eliminate dead, dry skin patches. Getting rid of the layers of dead skin cells also helps prep your skin for other skincare and body care products, including body butters.
Exfoliation also promotes skin cell turnover, bringing fresh, healthy skin cells to the surface. This cell turnover also helps even skin tone and diminishes dark spots.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
So, yes, exfoliation is essential. But too much of a good thing can have negative results.
Physical exfoliation can be abrasive to the skin and cause damage to the skin barrier if not done properly. Stressing out your skin barrier is counterproductive when trying to combat dryness since dry skin is usually caused by a non-functioning skin barrier or a barrier that isn’t functioning properly. Your skin needs time between exfoliation sessions to relax, rejuvenate, and heal.
If you’re using a body scrub like ours that has chemical and physical exfoliants, you want to be sure you’re using it correctly. The chemical exfoliants in the formula don’t stick around on the surface: they go deeper into the skin to promote skin cell turnover on a cellular level. Whereas physical exfoliants (think sugars and salts) help loosen dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.
Signs You’ve Over-Exfoliated:
- Redness and inflammation
- Irritation or burning
- Excessive dryness
- Skin flaking or peeling
- Breakouts (typically small pimples)
- Increased sensitivity
How Often You Should Exfoliate
Your hair removal routine will determine how often you should exfoliate. We recommend shaving 1 to 2 times a week to reduce the chance of ingrown hairs, infected pores, irritation, razor burn, etc. If you shave once or twice a week, exfoliate on those two days (as long as they’re not back-to-back).
If you shave once every few weeks (2 to 3 weeks or more), you can exfoliate a bit more often. If this is you, we recommend exfoliating 1 to 3 times a week max, making sure to alternate days.
How to Care for Your Skin if You’ve Over-Exfoliated
Okay, so you're skin is red, dry, and extra sensitive - you’ve over-exfoliated. Now what?
STEP 1: Give Your Skin a Break
First things first, take a break from shaving, hair removal, and (of course) exfoliating. You’ll want to focus on the “less is more” approach, nourishing your skin and giving it time to recover.
STEP 2: Switch to a Gentle Cleanser
Now is the perfect time to go back to the basics with a gentle body wash that won’t aggravate or strip your skin (try our Cream Body Washes brimming with nourishing shea butter and plant oils).
STEP 3: Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
To restore your skin barrier, you’ll want to keep your skin protected with an ultra-nourishing moisturizer, like our Body Butters, that won’t cause further irritation. Soothing, plant-based Body Oils can also be great options to promote healing.
STEP 4: Protect with SPF
Speaking of protecting your skin—make sure to use sunscreen. Go for a spray or lotion of SPF 30 or higher that feels good on your skin. Keep in mind that mineral sunscreens may be less irritating to sensitized skin than chemical sunscreens.
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