How much Exfoliation is too much Exfoliation?


Do you you suspect you’ve been over exfoliating but you’re not sure what the signs are? If you are thinking this, then most likely you are over-exfoliating! Exfoliating is a commonly misunderstood step in any skincare regime.

Our skin is very clever and actually exfoliates itself. It takes about 28 days, but during this time your skin cells are born, grow, mature, reach old age then die. It sounds grim, but if this is working at optimal level the skin will magically maintain itself and not require further exfoliation from its owner. But like all things, as we age this process becomes sluggish and needs a little extra help.

Over exfoliation is the process of destroying your skins natural barrier function by over scrubbing. The skins barrier basically aims to protect the body from unwanted influences from the environment. Overusing exfoliants can cause the skin to be stripped of its natural oils that are needed to maintain this strong barrier. Common signs of over scrubbing include:

  • red and sensitive skin
  • peely and flaky skin
  • a feeling of tight skin
  • acne and breakouts
  • skin is shiny even though its not oily

Exfoliation incorporated correctly into a skincare routine can make your skin look plump, fresh, nourished and healthy (yes please!). The value of exfoliation can often be overlooked and once you have reached your full potential from exfoliation it can be tempting to overdo it. I recommend using a scrub to exfoliate your skin once per week, twice max!

Did you know that there are other ways to exfoliate that are less harsh on your skin? Have you heard of enzyme exfoliation? No? Okay, well I’m about to introduce you to a whole new world of exfoliation. Enzymes!

For some crazy reason enzyme exfoliation just isn’t that popular. Enzymes are a type of chemical exfoliation that breaks down the ‘glue’ that binds all the dead skin cells onto the surface of the skin. They are often derived from fruits like pineapple, cranberries and papaya and are suitable for ALL skin types, sensitive included.

Enzyme exfoliation is generally better for more sensitive skin types because you can’t overdo it like you can with scrubs, or if you are just a heavy-handed scrubber, you wont be tempted to overdo it and damage the healthy young cells underneath.

My all-time favourite enzyme exfoliator is Osmosis Polish, and if you’ve ever had a treatment with me you’ve had it rubbed into your face whether you asked for it or not! I could tell you a million reasons why I love it, but here’s my top 3:

  1. it smells like fruity heaven
  2. it has a little lactic acid which helps to keep the skin moisturised and feel less dry
  3. it has antioxidants in it, like CoQ10 which is proven to reduce oxidative damage caused by UV rays

So I guess what I’m trying to say is its okay to use a scrub, but don’t go crazy. One scrub a week is enough. But if you’re addicted to that post exfoliation glow, try adding some enzymes to the mix. You won’t regret it.

Felicity West RN