5 Signs that You Are Exfoliating Your Skin Too Much

It's possible to exfoliate too much. And that's not good for your skin. Redness, dryness and excess oil are signs you need to pay attention to.
5 Signs that You Are Exfoliating Your Skin Too Much
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 09 June, 2023

How do you know if you’re exfoliating your skin too much? Watch for signs that you may be overdoing this cosmetic treatment.

Remember that while exfoliation should be included in your beauty routine, you should limit its practice, depending on your skin type. After all, you need to give your skin time to regenerate.

These signs indicate that you’re exfoliating too much

Exfoliation helps even skin tone and texture, helps retain moisture, and helps control conditions such as acne. However, when done improperly or excessively, the opposite happens – the skin loses excess cells and the natural barrier is affected.

If you think you might be exfoliating too much, then read on. Here are the warning signs you can’t miss.

1. Redness that won’t go away

When you exfoliate, redness of the skin is always present, due to the friction with the product you’re using. However, this redness usually goes away soon.

If this isn’t the case, and there’s also an itching or burning sensation, then we’re dealing with overexfoliation.

However, if you have reduced the number of times you exfoliate your skin and the symptom still occurs, you should evaluate the quality of the product or technique you’re using. You’ll also need to consider compatibility with your skin type and choose a method accordingly.

2. Hypersensitivity and inflammation

Another sign that you are exfoliating too much is the hypersensitivity your skin develops. This is most evident when you try to apply other products.

The skin becomes inflamed because of the disruption of the natural barrier due to friction. According to an article published in the Venezuelan Dermatology Magazine, the irritative contact eczema that appears is also due to a high transdermal loss of water.

This sign usually occurs in combination with redness.

3. Dryness and desquamation

Dry skin or xerosis is a symptom with which the skin indicates that it is dehydrated. According to experts, this condition is more common in women.

When the skin is exfoliated excessively, it loses its ability to retain water properly, and this gives way to dryness and flaking.

In the case of dry skin that wants to recover through exfoliation, excessive application of the practice causes flaking skin, which usually occurs in patches. In other words, you risk aggravating the underlying condition.

4. Acne and breakouts

While exfoliation is done to lessen affectations, one of the clear signs that you’re exfoliating too much is the worsening of acne. The reason is the same one we’ve been talking about – significant damage to the skin barrier.

The skin has to maintain the balance of bacteria that inhabit it. One of these resident microorganisms is Propionibacterium acnes or Cutibacterium acnes (according to its new name). When it grows too much, it causes acne outbreaks, as supported by scientific articles.

The damaged skin barrier can’t act against bacterial overgrowth. As a result, bacteria colonize more and more. Also, the friction from peeling could carry microorganisms from one place to another.

5. Excess oil and shine

The last of the signs that you’re exfoliating too much is excess oil, which comes in the form of excessive shine. This is because the skin loses its natural oils through exfoliation and must act to compensate for the imbalance. How does it do this? By producing more oil.

While exfoliation helps restore your skin’s shine, you’ll know when it’s abnormal. So you should watch for this sign, especially if it occurs along with any of the signs mentioned above.

How to reverse the effects of over-exfoliation?

If you recognize these signs that you’re over-exfoliating, then you need to take steps to restore your skin’s health. Some of the things you can do are the following:

  • Moisturize your skin very well to help it recover faster.
  • Stop the practice of exfoliating until your skin is fully recovered.
  • Use facial oils that resemble your skin’s natural oils if you suffer from dryness.
  • Apply cosmetic products with peptides to stimulate collagen production and reduce inflammation.
  • Analyze if the damage is caused by the frequency of exfoliation, the technique, or the products. Change as appropriate.
Resume exfoliating only when the skin is fully recovered. Start slowly, only once a week.

What signs did you identify?

No one knows your skin better than you do, so keep an eye out for signs that you’re exfoliating your skin too much. As you can see, these can be as basic as a simple breakout or redness and escalate to more complex conditions such as acne and dryness.

In addition, over-exfoliating can irreversibly damage the protective layer of your skin, exposing you to infections and wounds if you don’t stop the cosmetic treatment in time.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.



The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.