Over-Exfoliated Skin: What To Do Next

Sep. 29, 2020
Over-exfoliation has a plethora of symptoms, ranging from redness and inflammation, tightness of the skin, dryness and flakiness, irritation bumps, rashes, breakouts, and a stinging sensation. With the rise in popularity of at-home chemical exfoliation, it’s easier than ever before to take it a step too far. Everyone is trying out TikTok-famous products like The Ordinary’s AHA 30% and BHA 2% Peeling Solution without an understanding of how strong it really is. Chemical exfoliation is all the rage now, due to its ability to clear up acne, even out the skin tone, and give you a glowy look. But none of these things will happen if you don't exfoliate properly!
Being able to identify when you’ve over-exfoliated is the first step in healing your skin and getting the results that you’re looking for. First, we need to discern the difference between chemical over-exfoliation and physical over-exfoliation. 
Physical exfoliation is classified as using a form of abrasion to remove spent skin cells. Think spin brushes, scrubs, dermaplaning, peel-off masks, and washcloths. Physical exfoliation involves the user to exert some manipulation to the skin in order to remove dead skin. Physical over-exfoliation will likely give you raw-feeling skin with a rough texture. It will feel dry, and extra sensitive.
Chemical exfoliation works on a deeper level than physical. Acids, enzymes, peels, and retinols cause skin cells to renew at a faster rate, which if used too often, can make your skin thin and susceptible to sun damage or other side effects. Chemical over-exfoliation can feel and look like a burn. Your skin will be red, feel raw and sensitive, and will likely be dry, flaky, and rough in texture (some people refer to this as "orange peel skin"). You may notice that the side effects of chemical over-exfoliation seem to linger longer than physical.

Some ways over-exfoliation can present itself.

Here are some key rules on how to reduce the likelihood of over-exfoliating. It's crucial to keep an eye out for the signs so you can resolve them faster.
Any form of exfoliation is best when only used 1-2x per week. Using it more frequently puts you at a higher risk of aggravation. Especially when starting a new exfoliant, patch test (apply a small amount to your inner wrist and wait 24 hrs to see if you have a negative reaction), and only use 1x per week MAX. Once your skin gets accustomed to the product, you can increase usage. Just remember, even if your skin seems to like your exfoliant initially, if you start using it too often you can still experience negative side effects. 
Any product that works deep within the skin should be used carefully. Say you introduce a chemical exfoliant like a glycolic acid serum. That should be the ONLY exfoliant that you are introducing at that time. (Although it is possible to successfully use different forms of exfoliation in one routine if introduced cautiously and over time.) Keep the rest of your routine simple with a basic hydrating cleanser, a rich moisturizer, and a sunscreen every day. 
If you opt for a physical exfoliation like a scrub (I promise they aren’t the devil, unlike what most people will tell you), be careful with the amount of pressure you’re using. Scrubs like St. Ives Apricot Scrub are inherently more dangerous, mostly because of the irregular shape of the granules. On top of that, people like to massage it vigorously into their skin thinking they will see results faster. STOP. Even the best scrub with well-shaped granules and healthy ingredients can over-exfoliate if used too aggressively.
*Pro Tip: Let the scrub do the work for you- use very, very light pressure and massage in upward circular motions. The same thing goes for spin brushes, washcloths, and other tools. Use them gently, they will still get the job done without excessive pressure!
*Pro Tip: Don't incorporate a scrub into your routine if you're trying to treat acne. The two don't play well together.
If you do happen to experience over-exfoliation, you’ll know it. Your skin will feel uncomfortable, and even a gentle moisturizer can sting your skin. Don't fret, with the right methods of action, your skin will go back to normal very quickly.
We talked about aloe vera in my sunburn post, and it can help with over-exfoliation in the same ways. Because aloe is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, you can count on it for soothing irritation caused by over-exfoliation. Its cool temperature and moisturizing properties will keep your skin hydrated and help repair your skin’s barrier. A side effect of over-exfoliation can be excess oiliness to the skin (your skin’s attempt to rehydrate itself after being stripped of healthy oils) so moisturizing more may seem counterproductive. But a rich moisturizer or ingredient like aloe will balance your oil levels and allow your skin to begin its healing process. 
*Pro-Tip: Keep aloe vera or your favorite soothing product in your arsenal at all times. You never know when you're going to have a reaction. Keeping it on hand will prevent you from having to run out with a red face to pick something up!
Sunscreen is key for protecting your skin when all is well. When your skin is over-exfoliated, it is overexposed and vulnerable to sun damage more than ever. Sunscreen is an absolute must if you suspect you’ve overdone it. Without it, you are more likely to get a sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and acne scarring. You will NOT want to deal with those things after your over-exfoliation symptoms clear!
Over-exfoliation has happened to the best of us. I made the mistake of thinking my skin was ready for Retin-A AND glycolic acid. I was very wrong! I broke out in an itchy rash, accompanied by redness and whiteheads galore. I followed some of the steps above, and my skin was back to normal in no time. Try to remember that the way your skin reacts to over-exfoliating will go away in time. You may be tempted to double up on acne treatments if you experience new breakouts from over-exfoliating. This will set you up for disaster! In school, I was taught that breakouts caused by over-exfoliating need to be killed with kindness. 

My reaction from mixing glycolic acid and Retin-A resolved itself a week after going back to basics.

*Pro-Tip: Don’t let temptation win! Avoid using spot treatments (like salicylic acid or tea tree oil) on breakouts caused by over-exfoliation. Instead, keep your face hydrated and don’t attempt to pop them. Trust that they will go away on their own.
*Pro Tip: If you experience a rash or hives from over-exfoliation, an antihistamine like Benadryl can help. You can also press a cool washcloth on your face to soothe the inflammation and itchiness. Try not to scratch your skin!
Things like only cleansing with tepid water, swapping a foaming cleanser for a cream cleanser, skipping a cleanse in the morning, gently patting your face dry with a soft washcloth, sticking to the basics, and drinking extra water can all help propel the healing process! Baby your skin, because it’s in a very vulnerable state.
Final Thoughts
Over-exfoliating is a really easy thing to do. It kind of creeps up on you, then you wake up with red, angry skin. Remember to always start slow with exfoliants, and give your skin the time it needs to adjust. If you do happen to experience over-exfoliation, you don't need to ban your new product. It may become one of your holy grails. Just cease use until your symptoms clear, and try again-this time MUCH slower. You’ll be seeing the results you want before you know it. Results take time, and you don’t want to backtrack by being overzealous!
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This week’s ✨Cherie Spotlight ✨ w/o Jan 11
This week’s ✨Cherie Spotlight ✨ w/o Jan 11
Hi all! Happy New Year 🎉🥳 We’re excited to kick off another week of Cherie Spotlight with exciting beauty gifts to share some cheer with our amazing community…and some GOOD NEWS! We’re switching it up and bringing back WEEKLY Cherie Spotlights!!! Stay tuned to hear when the change goes into effect ✨ Weekly winners of Cherie’s Picks, New on Cherie, and Cherie Convo will receive a free beauty gift to enjoy as a thanks for creating content and stories loved and cheered on by the cherie community. 
As a reminder: Cherie’s Picks - our favorite top engaged with content, selected by team cherie. New on Cherie - share your first posts on cherie for a chance to win! Cherie Convo - post into the topic of the week to win! Check out our last post to check the cherie convo of the week.
Here the finished look to my clients birthday glam look✨COLOURPOP - Minor in Astrology FENTY BEAUTY - Trophy Wife Life Makeup Set MAYBELLINE - SuperStay 24H Full Coverage Liquid Foundation
DON’T try these at home!
DON’T try these at home!
With so many self- proclaimed beauty gurus in the world today, it’s very easy to get sucked into the DIY trend. Most experts and skincare specialists will tell you these homemade concoctions are not as good as they are made to be. Here are 5 ingredients you should not put on your face and why. 1. Essential Oils- The fragrant portion of plants is what makes essential oils. Modern science has revealed how fragrant oils cause problems for the skin. In the long run components in essential oils can significantly irritate and damage the skin. 2. Lemon Juice 🍋- Lemons are extremely acidic, which will irritate your skin. You can experience excessive redness, dryness, and skin peeling. Using lemons on your skin can cause more damage then benefit to your skin. 3. Coconut Oil- This ingredient causes a lot of debate amongst my followers, but fact is a fact, coconut oil is highly comedogenic. This means that the oil clogs pores on your face. When you apply coconut oil to your face it lays on the surface and is not able to be absorbed into the skin due to its large molecules. It can cause breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads. 4. Witch Hazel- Here is another debate stirring ingredient. A lot of my patients and followers swear by witch hazel because of its immediate results on absorbing oil on the skin. What they fail to understand that it is not only absorbing the excess oils, but it is also stripping your skin of its natural oils. This can be very damaging to your skin and it’s natural protecting barrier, causing unnatural sensitized and dry skin. 5. Toothpaste- Such a popular trend and so harmful to your skin. Toothpaste contains high levels of baking soda which will mess with your skin’s ph level. This can lead to redness and burning of the skin. Toothpaste is a horrible option for your blemishes and instead I would recommend THE inkey LIST - Succinic Acid Acne Treatment As tempting as it is to try natural remedies at home, do your skin a favor and resort to stabilized and researched ingredients and products.
Baby Yoda likes skincare too 🥰
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