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The Negative Effects of Over-Exfoliated Skin and How to Prevent Them
The Negative Effects of Over-Exfoliated Skin and How to Prevent Them

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If your skin’s been looking dull, you might rely on exfoliation to restore its appearance. While exfoliating can help promote the growth of healthy skin cells, using this skincare method too much isn’t good for your skin.

Over-exfoliated skin can feel irritated and have other negative effects. It’s ok to use exfoliation to expedite skin cell turnover, as long as you’re not overdoing it or using the wrong products. Knowing more about this skin care routine can help you determine if you’ve been over-exfoliating and what to do about it.

What Exactly Is Over-Exfoliated Skin?

Having over-exfoliated skin means that you’ve been exfoliating it or stripping away dead skin cells too much. While this might seem like a good way to make sure you have regular skin cell turnover, it doesn’t automatically mean you have healthy skin cells.

In fact, over-exfoliating can have the opposite effect and harm your skin. Over-exfoliation can make it harder for healthy skin cells to grow, which can cause all kinds of skin problems.

Chemical and mechanical exfoliation

woman with a facial cleansing brush

The way your skin reacts to exfoliation partly depends on the method you use. Chemical exfoliation uses chemical products to remove dead skin cells, get rid of bacteria, and reduce breakouts on acne-prone skin.

Mechanical exfoliation is also known as physical exfoliation. It uses scrubs, brushes, and other tools to physically remove dead skin cells. This type of exfoliation also helps unclog pores for glowing skin.

How Over-Exfoliation Can Affect Your Skin

Exfoliating too much can have different negative effects on your skin. This can vary depending on the kind of skin you have and other factors, such as how often you exfoliate, what kind of exfoliation you do, and what you use.

Irritated skin

Over-exfoliating can cause skin irritation. When you exfoliate, you’re removing dead skin cells, but that’s not all. The natural oils in your skin are also stripped away. Doing this too much can result in irritated skin that peels or has a burning sensation.


Exfoliating too much can cause your skin to have a reddish appearance due to inflammation. Instead of the radiant glow you were hoping for, you can end up with redness and an uneven skin tone. Especially in sensitive areas.

Dry skin

woman with irritated dry skin

Your skin’s natural oils help prevent dryness. When you exfoliate too much, these natural oils decrease, resulting in dry skin. You might develop flaky skin or patches of dryness, depending on skin types.

If you normally have dry skin, over-exfoliating can make it even worse. If you have oily skin, you might develop dry skin if you start exfoliating too much to try to control that oiliness.

Increased sensitivity

Chemical exfoliation with beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, or other chemicals removes layers of dead skin cells. Physical exfoliation with tools does the same thing using a different method. Both of these types of exfoliation can make your skin feel raw and more sensitive than usual.

When you over-exfoliate, your skin might become more sensitive to other products you normally use in your skincare routine.

Acne breakouts

Exfoliating is supposed to help reduce breakouts for those with acne-prone skin. When you do it too much, though, you might have an increase in breakouts of small pimples.

What Causes Over-Exfoliated Skin?

How do you end up with over-exfoliated skin? This can easily happen if you use the wrong kinds of exfoliants on your skin or if you exfoliate too often. Keep in mind that exfoliation can be good for your skin, as long as it’s done carefully.

Knowing more about the causes of over-exfoliation can help you see if you should make some changes to this part of your skincare routine. If you’ve been experiencing one or more signs of over-exfoliation, these are a few of the most common causes.

Using harsh scrubs or exfoliants

exfoliating scrub

Physical exfoliation can be effective at eliminating dead skin cells, but some of the products on the market are too harsh. Using abrasive scrubs and brushes to exfoliate your skin can lead to dryness, irritation, and other skin problems.

The way you use these products also matters. Pushing down too much or putting too much pressure on your skin while doing physical exfoliation can damage it. Especially if you’re using harsh scrubs or other exfoliant products.

Overusing chemical exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants, such as alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acid, are also good at removing dead skin cells. These exfoliants can be more gentle on your skin compared to physical exfoliants.

When you do chemical exfoliation, being careful is key to avoiding over-exfoliating. Using too many of these products at once or using them too often can hurt your skin instead of helping it become healthier and more radiant.


How often do you exfoliate your skin? If you’re having signs of over-exfoliation, you could be doing it too much. Skin types play a big role in how often to exfoliate. For example, if you have oily skin, exfoliating a couple of times a week or even a few times might be ok, as long as you’re not using harsh exfoliants.

If you have dry skin, exfoliating a few times per week can leave your skin in worse shape. Since dry skin doesn’t have a lot of natural oils, exfoliation can increase dryness. For dry skin, exfoliating once or twice a week should be enough.

What about combination skin? This can be a little trickier to figure out since it’s a mix of dry and oily skin. If you have over-exfoliated skin, cut back on the number of times you exfoliate per week, or try exfoliating oily areas only.

How to Heal Over-Exfoliated Skin and Prevent It

If you’re experiencing signs of over-exfoliation, put this part of your skincare routine on pause until your skin heals. You can put a cold compress on your skin right away to soothe irritation. To help prevent your skin from becoming worse, stop using skincare products with retinol and foaming cleansers for now.

Once your skin is back to its usual condition, you can start using your normal skincare products again. For exfoliating, though, you might need to make changes to what you use and how you use it.

Switch to gentle exfoliants

woman using a mild cleanser on a cotton pad

Make sure the exfoliants you use, whether they’re chemical or physical exfoliants, are gentle on your skin. Stay away from abrasive or harsh exfoliants. Gentle exfoliants will still eliminate dead skin cells, but they won’t damage, dry out, or irritate your skin.

Pair gentle exfoliants with other gentle skincare products to prevent irritated skin or other signs of over-exfoliated skin.

Exfoliate carefully

It’s not just what you use to exfoliate that can hurt your skin. Applying too much pressure or scrubbing at large areas of your skin can also cause problems. When you exfoliate, move in circular motions over smaller areas of your skin.

Avoid overusing certain products

More isn’t always better when it comes to exfoliating your skin. Using exfoliants, especially harsh ones, a couple times per day instead of a couple times per week isn’t good for your skin. Doing this can cause irritation, dryness, and other signs of over-exfoliated skin.

Aim to exfoliate as often as needed based on your skin type and the kinds of products you use. If certain exfoliating products seem to irritate your skin, switch to gentler ones or use them less often. Even when you use gentle exfoliants, avoid using them too frequently.

Use silk pillowcase as part of your skincare routine

When you’ve changed up your skincare regimen as far as exfoliants go, there’s more you can do to soothe your skin. Consider adding silk pillowcases to your skincare routine. Blissy Silk Pillowcases can help ease discomfort when you have over-exfoliated skin.

After your skin heals, sleeping on these pillowcases can also help prevent irritation and other skin problems. Combining Blissy Silk Pillowcases with gentle exfoliants can lead to healthy, radiant skin.

The Beautiful Benefits of Blissy Silk Pillowcases

Blissy Silk Pillowcases are great for soothing irritated, dry, or sensitive skin if you’ve been over-exfoliating. These pillowcases are made with mulberry silk, which provides a ton of softness, along with many other benefits.

blissy silk pillowcase in champagne striped

Reduces friction

Blissy Silk Pillowcases don’t tug at your skin. Sleeping on other pillowcase materials like cotton or linen can pull at your skin. This results in even more irritation after exfoliating. Silk pillowcases have a smooth texture that reduces friction on your skin.

Prevents wrinkles and fine lines

Blissy Silk Pillowcases won’t cause you to wake up with a face full of creases. The smooth, soft texture of these pillowcases helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles. They also reduce sleep wrinkles.

Offers cooling effects

Sleeping on Blissy Silk Pillowcases when you have over-exfoliated skin means you can look forward to relief. These pillowcases have a cooling effect that soothes your skin.

Shop for Blissy Silk Pillowcases for Your Skincare Routine

Make Blissy Silk Pillowcases a regular part of your skincare routine. Visit Blissy.com to browse our silk pillowcase collection, so you can protect your skin and keep it looking soft, smooth, and beautiful.


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