We all know the importance of keeping our skin healthy, but sometimes our good intentions can lead us down the dangerous path of over-exfoliation. When you're on the hunt for flawsome skin, it is easy to get carried away with exfoliating products. But don't worry, besties! Today we're here to spill the tea on over-exfoliation, its sneaky signs, and how to bounce back from the brink of damaged skin. 

Girl with blond hair and pink eyeshadow holds beaker with pink liquid in it up to her face and smiles to the camera.

What does exfoliation mean?

Exfoliation refers to the process of removing dead skin cells from the outermost layer of your skin, known as the epidermis. It's the process of giving your face a little makeover by getting rid of those old, tired skin cells and revealing the fresh, radiant ones underneath.

So, how does it work? There are two primary methods to exfoliate your skin: physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation.

Physical exfoliation

We've all experienced the sandpaper-like sensation of scrubbing our skin with a certain physical exfoliant that shall remain nameless. Physical exfoliation can tend to be more harsh on the skin and involves using scrubs, brushes, or those facial cleansing devices to physically sweep away those dead skin cells. 

Chemical exfoliation 

Now we're no longer in the 90s, and exfoliation has actually evolved BIG time! Say hello to chemical exfoliation. This involves using ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) that work like little fairies, dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells. If you're looking for a gentle exfoliator, we recommend the Boost Lab AHA Glow Resurfacing Serum (seen as we don’t have one of our own yet 😉). This serum is designed to exfoliate gently, helping to improve signs of ageing. It also supports the natural process of skin cell turnover, resulting in a smoother and brighter complexion.

What’s the best part of exfoliation? It's that instant "Ahh" moment when your skin feels incredibly smooth and looks all glowy. It's like a quick refresh button for your face. So, whether you're into physical or chemical exfoliation, it's a fun way to keep your skin looking its absolute best! 

What is over-exfoliated skin?

Think of over-exfoliated skin as your skin's way of saying, "Hey, you're doing too much!". It occurs when you exfoliate your skin too frequently or aggressively, causing irritation, sensitivity, and potential damage to the skin's protective barrier. Here's an example of what it looks like: 

How do I know if I have over-exfoliated?

When you over-exfoliate, you disrupt the balance of your skin and strip away more than just the dead skin cells. Some telltale signs and symptoms of over-exfoliated skin include:

Increased sensitivity 

If your skin starts to feel sensitive, tight, or just plain uncomfortable, this might be a sign you've gone a bit overboard with exfoliation. You know, like that annoying burning or stinging feeling when you put on your usual skincare? Yep, that's your skin trying to tell you to take it easy.

Increased breakouts 

Overdoing your exfoliation might actually cause you to breakout even more. If you’re noticing more pimples than usual, this could be a sign that your skin's barrier has been compromised. To restore your skin's barrier, we suggest using our rebound serum. It is a great barrier support serum that calms angry, damaged skin and protects your skin from daily stressors. 

For more information on your skin barrier, read here.

pink background, rebound serum, serum bottle sitting next to box

Dryness and flakiness 

Over-exfoliating can actually strip away those natural oils on your skin, leaving you with dry, flaky skin. You might even spot some peeling, especially around your cheeks, chin, or forehead, so it’s important to always moisturise!

Visible Redness 

When you go a little too crazy with exfoliation, your skin might start blushing - and not in a cute way. You'll notice it turning pink or even full-on red, especially in those areas where you've been a bit too enthusiastic with your exfoliation routine. 

How do I heal over-exfoliated skin?

Step 1: Stop exfoliating!

First things first, besties, and this is super important: hit the brakes on all those exfoliating products ASAP. Your skin needs a timeout to start the healing process. 

Step 2: Hydrate and repair your skin barrier

When you've gone a bit overboard with exfoliation, your skin can be seriously dehydrated and damaged. Introducing hydrating products containing hyaluronic acid and barrier repair serums (like our rebound serum) enriched with ceramides and niacinamide is a MUST! These products serve the dual purpose of replenishing moisture and restoring your skin's protective barrier.

Step 3: Gentle cleansing

When it comes to washing your face during the healing process, take it easy. Opt for a gentle, hydrating cleanser that'll treat your skin kindly. We recommend using our gentle cleanser which cleanses your skin without stripping it, leaving it feeling hydrated and smooth!

For more information on how to properly cleanse your skin, read here.

Step 4: Moisturise

Now, after you've cleansed, it's time to give your skin some love. Opt for a hydrating moisturiser to help soothe and hydrate your skin. Our thirst trap moisturiser is a lightweight option that effectively hydrates the skin with a combination of glycerin, pentavitin, sodium PCA, and genencare. It also offers barrier support through the inclusion of pentavitin, amino acids, squalane, apricot kernel oil, jojoba esters, olive oil, and vitamin E.

Step 5: SPF

We all know sunscreen is a MUST! But when you have over-exfoliated skin, it’s even more important as you skin is more susceptible to UV damage. We suggest wearing sunscreen with at least SPF30 (SPF50+ is ideal) to protect your sensitive skin from further damage. Apply a minimum of a quarter of a teaspoon of sunscreen to your fingertips and gently massage it onto your skin every morning as the final step of your routine. Our skin shady SPF 50+ is an oil-free, non-greasy sunscreen that is super lightweight and breakout-friendly. It also sits really well underneath makeup, which is a plus!

How do I prevent over-exfoliated skin?

Preventing over-exfoliated skin is all about being gentle and balanced with your approach to exfoliation. Here are some tips to keep you from going overboard:

Know your skin type

Here's a pro tip: get to know your skin! Each skin type has its quirks, and some can handle more exfoliation than others. So make sure you understand your skin type and its needs before you begin your exfoliating journey!

Choose the right exfoliant

Alright, let's get picky - in a good way! When it comes to exfoliating products, think about what your skin needs. There are two main types to choose from: physical exfoliants (like scrubs and brushes) and chemical ones (the AHAs and BHAs). But here's the key: make sure you're going for products that match your skin's sensitivity level. It's all about finding the perfect fit!

Start slow!

If you're diving into the world of exfoliation for the first time or testing out a new product, here's the trick: take it slow! Start with a milder concentration or use it less frequently. Think of it like introducing a new friend to your inner circle - start with a coffee date and see how it goes before you invite them to the big party!

Avoid mixing actives

When it comes to your skincare routine, think of it like cooking - too many ingredients can sometimes lead to a not-so-delicious dish. So, don't go mixing multiple actives together. Keep it simple by sticking to one at a time.

Can over-exfoliating cause acne?

Overdoing it with exfoliation can actually stir up some trouble in the form of acne. Here's what happens…when you go overboard with scrubbing and exfoliating, you can mess up your skin's natural balance and protective shield. That can lead to irritation and sensitivity. 

Now, when your skin's protective barrier is compromised, it may become more susceptible to external irritants and bacteria, which can lead to breakouts. Plus, your skin might decide to go into oil production overdrive to compensate for the moisture it's lost, which can clog up those pores and trigger acne.

The key is to find your exfoliation sweet spot and avoid going over the top to keep your skin happy and less prone to acne flare-ups! 

So remember, besties - going a tad too crazy with exfoliation can lead to some skin troubles. But guess what? It's not the end of the world. Just listen to your skin, give it the TLC it deserves, and opt for a kinder, gentler routine. Your skin will thank you with that flawsome, healthy glow!

orange background, girl with dark hair holds tbh skincare thirst trap moisturiser up over her eye