3 March 2015

Over-Exfoliating 101: Source, Symptoms & Solutions

Whittling down the causes as to why my skin misbehaves on the untimely occasion is something I'll forever be trying to figure out - I can often put it down to the bar of Dairy Milk I devoured or be it 'that time of the month', but my third prediction that I end up staring blank in the face is over-exfoliation. Sometimes my sensitive-combo skin just can't cope with the amount of products I like to test on it, and with said issue actually being quite the common thing, I thought it was about time for an over-exfoliation 101; the source of the problem, symptoms and solutions that lend a hand...

Source. I really just wanted another 's' word that tied in with the others, so by source I mean different exfoliating products and how they can be the root of the problem. Exfoliation comes in many different shapes and forms, for example, in my routine, I cleanse daily with Oskia's Renaissance Cleansing Gel, made up of AHA's (fruit acids) that gently slough dead cells, I follow with a hot cloth removal, which counts as a manual form of exfoliation and apply REN's Clarifying Toner, very mild, but at the same time resurfacing. A few times a week, I'll take my pick from treats, manual scrubs such as Oskia's Micro-Exfoliating Balm, made up with silica beads, Indeed Labs' Powdered Facial Exfoliator - does what it says on the tin, but mixed with water turns into a paste that also features fruit acids, REN's Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, along the same lines as above, AHA-heavy refining masks like Oskia's Renaissance Mask, Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask as well as glycolic acid treatments like Alpha H Liquid Gold. Then of course, when my skin breaks out, I apply salicylic acid solutions such as LRP's Clarifying Toner, their Effaclar Duo or Effaclar A.I - basically, it's easy to go OTT on skin cell shedding without realising. It can be, like me, mixing up a exfoliating variety of products or even simply using one product just a bit too regularly. 

Symptoms. Here's where it really depends on your skin type, but noticeable signs include, dryness, dehydration, redness, sensitivity, breakouts and possibly milia. For me it's definitely dryness, on a whole other level, dehydration and breakouts. A lot of them. It really is all down to stripping away too much, and not putting enough back and in return, your skin retaliates, and quite rightly so. Results should be fresh, glowy, radiant looking skin, if you're experiencing any of the above, you need to tone things down a notch. 

Solutions. All the oils. I've said it before, when panic mode sets into my skin, I use oils, only oils and a whole lot of them. Again, post-exfoliation comes hydration and if I've found I've gone a little heavy with the former, I need to come back just as hard with the latter to restore the balance. I cleanse first with Una Brennan's Renew Cleansing Oil - natural, plant-oil based and just beautiful, my skin loves this stuff - I follow with a second using Sarah Chapman's Ultimate Cleanse, a balm consistency that transforms into an oil, and consists of a lot of very nice ones at that, then finish with my facial oil of choice, usually Clarins Blue Orchid Treatment, aimed at dehydrated skins, and again, my skin just drinks it up. Of course, with the skin being more sensitive prone and becoming exposed, SPF is essential, you can get your protection from your makeup, moisturiser, but in warmer climates a high sunscreen, no excuses. 

The moral of the exfoliation story? Stick to sloughing 2-3 times a week with a max. of 2-3 of the methods at each given time, and when retaliation attacks, oils are your BFF.


  1. This was me about 5 months back and it did not take too much science to figure out that I was doing too much to my skin! This is a great post Jessica and I think a lot of us folks go through this why with tonnes of products out there waiting to be explored!


  2. Such great tips! I find my chin and nose can handle a physical exfoliation a few times a week but I leave my forehead and cheeks with a chemical exfoliator instead.. So keen to try the Alpha-H! x
    Madeleine, The Daily Mark

  3. Thanks for reading Madeleine! Ah I like your routine - I have a feeling you'd seriously love Alpha H, everyone I've recommended it to has been amazed :-)

  4. Ah thanks for reading Divya :-) Agreed, it's easy to go overboard!


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