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  • by Nicola Boulton August 13, 2022 4 min read

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

    Regular Eradication of skin pollutants is good, but overdoing it may have mild to severe side effects. Redness and irritation are possible side effects of over-exfoliating the skin. Hence, users should understand the limits of a good exfoliation to have a good skin tone.

    Elimination of Dead skin cells, oil, and debris from the skin can be conducted in two ways: mechanically and chemically. One may use body scrubs like coffee grounds, among other improvised items, to remove dead skin cells from the surface. In contrast, chemical exfoliates are acid-based and include alpha and beta hydroxy acids. These chemicals hydrate and assist the skin in retaining moisture while exfoliating its top layer. However, excess use of these chemicals is often harmful. A prevalent problem among dermatologists is over-exfoliation. Maintaining healthy and moisturized skin depends on several factors discussed in this article.

    Is It Possible To Over-Exfoliate?

    There are three types of skin: oily, dry, and mixed. The frequency of exfoliation depends on one’s skin type. According to Pappas et al. (2009), oily skin contains more sebum. This makes it vulnerable to clogging of pores. Exfoliating twice or thrice a week removes the clogging on oily skin. In contrast, dry skin contains fewer lipids, thus making it dry, flaky, dull, and discolored. Regular exfoliation is not required for drug skins. However, dry skin can benefit from exfoliation administered once a week alongside a skincare regimen. A mixed skin type contains an oily t-zone and dryness over the rest of the face. Users should exercise twice weekly to assess how their skin respond to the exfoliates. They should exfoliate select parts of the skin, such as the bridge of the nose or forehead.

    Notably, users should avoid deviating from an exfoliation regimen. A deviation from customized regime may result to:

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

    Sensitive skin may experience certain discomforts from exfoliates. Over-exfoliation removes healthy skin cells and oil, leaving the skin raw and vulnerable to the surroundings (Nikalji et al. (2012). Consequently, the skin's suppleness may deteriorate, split, or peel. While the prescribed exfoliation routine should be followed; users must observe the skin's response. Certain creams can reduce sensitivity or inflammation. Additionally, regular exfoliating might irritate oily skin or that with a history of acne. Dry skin Users who notice a buildup of tiny pimples or blackheads after sweating around the nose and hairline can extend the exfoliation by two to three days weekly.

    Notably the skin's type and evolution are influenced by nutrition, age, hormones, genetics, and the environment. The quantity of drink water and sleep significantly impact the skin's texture and tone; the face may be oilier on certain occasions, while dry on others. The skin care regimen should be altered as the skin improves or worsens.

    Over-Exfoliating? Here's What To Do

    Nikalji et al. (2012) stated that exfoliating can stop until the skin return to its baseline texture. Hence, people with the side effects above should alter their exfoliation routine until their skin's texture returns to the conditions before overexposure. Usually, individuals should avoid the process until the redness or skin breakage subsides. 

    Tips for Recovering from Over-Exfoliation

    • Retinol products, foamy cleansers, and other exfoliants should be avoided.
    • Use of 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 natural areas. An aloe gel or hydrocortisone cream may also be used. The skin might take up to a month to restore its baseline, an equivalent duration of a skin cell cycle. Amid agitation, one can use a cold compress or hydrocortisone cream to reduce the redness and irritation associated with over-exfoliation. This can be immediate or done afterward; a raw aloe plant instead of aloe gel can assist the process. According to Ramachandra & Rao (2008), Aloe gel has healing characteristics, although it could be unpleasant depending on the exposure area. Retinol products and any physical or chemical exfoliates may dry up the skin and worsen existing problems. Hence users should avoid them immediately after they begin to experience their effects.

    When May You Begin To Exfoliate Your Skin Again?

    User can return to their routine exfoliation routines after the restoration of their skin to its baseline conditions.


    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 has demonstrated how consumers can identify over-exfoliation, the steps to reverse the process, and the duration one should take before exfoliating again. While users should adhere to the guidelines discussed in this article, they should consult a dermatologist if symptoms persist.


    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

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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