Overexfoliation: Why You Need to Stop Scrubbing and Start Moisturizing

woman face

Photo source: www.womenonly.gr

Ever since I learned how to make facial scrubs using sugar, sea salt, olive oil, almonds or finely crushed rice, I felt addicted to the “squeaky” clean feeling of my face. I would vigorously scrub in the morning and in the evening. Before I know it, my skin was all red, extra dry and irritated. I visited a dermatologist and here is what she has to say:


There are different types of scrubs and each has its own capability in exfoliating the skin.

Physical scrubs are those that contain abrasives and rely heavily in the mechanical action of scrubbing to remove dead skin cells at the topmost layer of the skin. These products often contain ground apricot pits, sugar, sea salt, sand, or microbeads. Chemical scrubs on the other hand contain lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid citric acid or salicylic acid. The acid helps remove the top layer of the skin to reveal younger-looking skin. Individuals have their own reaction to certain products. It is, therefore, important that you try a product first and adjust the frequency of your application according to your skin’s reaction. If you observe redness or irritation, lower the frequency of application. If it does not help, discontinue use and find another product that suits you.


Ideally, exfoliation should be twice a week but others need to exfoliate daily.

Most dermatologist recommend exfoliating every two weeks. This is to give your skin enough time to recover from the effects of micro abrasions. However, there are individuals whose skins regenerates at a faster rate. These individuals require skin exfoliation daily. To determine how often you should scrub, start with exfoliating once every two weeks then work your way to once a week, twice a week, every other day and then every day. Observe how your skin reacts. If you see that your skin feels softer, smoother and invigorated without any signs of irritation despite daily exfoliation, by all means, continue to your daily regimen.


The skin adapts to products we apply but overexfoliation is not the solution.

Every product that we apply to the skin loses its effectivity over time. Why? The skin (and the rest of the body) adapts or develops resistance to chemicals apply to it. That is why deodorants do not seem to work anymore after almost two months of using it. The same way, the skin adapts to facial scrubs and exfoliants, so our tendency would be to increase the number of times and the amount we apply to the skin. However, overexfoliation is not the answer. According to renowned New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Altchek, the solution is to change product every few months. This is to ensure that the skin will not adapt to the product over time.


The next time you exfoliate your skin, always follow with a moisturizer. Like me, you might be used to the squeaky-clean feeling, but a skin’s normal condition must be soft and silky to touch. And no, redness right after you scrub your face is not a normal thing. Once this happens, you need to evaluate if you need to change product or you are over exfoliating your skin.

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