7 Signs You’re Over Exfoliating Your Skin

8 Signs You're Over Exfoliating YouGlowGal You Glow Gal Esthetician Sarah Payne Hiatus Spa Dallas Skincare Beauty Blogger

Exfoliating is a crucial beauty regimen step, but what happens if you overdo it? Not enough and your products can’t penetrate rough, dull skin. Too much and you could be dealing with uncomfortable, unhappy skin.

Finding a delicate balance between over exfoliating and getting just the right amount is unique to your skin.  If you have an arsenal of acids, scrubs, and exfoliating tools it’s important to become familiar with reading your skin, so you can avoid over exfoliating and always have that glow.

How often you should exfoliate varies from person to person. Start by adhering to the instructions label on your exfoliant of choice and build up from there. If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned below, cut back on frequency. Thin, sensitive, and reactive skin should build up gradually while thick, oily skin can typically handle more. You may find your skin can tolerate more in warm, humid months and less in the winter when skin is dry and more easily irritated.

If you use multiple exfoliating products be cautious of how many you’re using in your routine. Whether you’re layering exfoliants in your evening routine or splitting them up between morning and night, combining AHA’s, BHA’s, Retinol, or scrubs can be too aggressive. Pay attention to your skin and know when to cut back.


Everyone’s symptoms are unique depending upon skin type, products being used, and how aggressive you’ve exfoliated. Kind of like a choose your own adventure, but less fun.



Inflammation, increased sensitivity, itching, and/or burning

Red, reactive, itchy, burning skin may be the most obvious out of the symptoms. This is a sign your barrier has been compromised, the layer that protects your skin from irritants and allergens. Be careful when using towels and cloths to dry your face as they can be even more irritating to your skin, even a sweaty workout sesh can cause irritation. Skin in this state is prone to contact dermatitis.


Your breakouts aren’t getting better or are worsening

When your skin’s barrier has been broken down bacteria is allowed in, turning your face into a breeding ground for pimples.  Excessive exfoliation can also cause hypersensitivity in the skin, triggering acne. This can sometimes be confused with purging. If you’ve been purging for more than two weeks, it’s not a purge. It’s inflammation.


Skin appears shiny and artificial

The appearance of shiny, artificial skin is common from over exfoliating with acids or retinol. By artificial, I mean your skin looks waxy or like plastic. Light reflects easily off of over exfoliated skin because its natural texture has been overly smoothed, creating an unnatural appearance. This is super common with Retin-A users!


Your skin is dry and tight

Do you feel like you can’t smile without your face cracking? Maybe more so after cleansing? When your skin has been stripped of its natural oils, its lost its natural lubrication. Every skin type can experience a lack of oil, whether you’re dry or oily, and become tight and uncomfortable.


Rough skin, flaking, and/or peeling

Yet another sign your barrier has been compromised.  Another side effect is your skin losing the ability to retain water. Any moisture being applied is escaping, because the acid mantle is destroyed. The result is a rough texture, leaving you to believe you need to exfoliate more, and the last thing you should be doing.


Dehydrated, crepey skin

Dehydration can manifest as dry or rough skin, but a tall tale sign is the sudden appearance of wrinkles. If you feel your eyes suddenly appear crepey, or your expression lines are more significant, your skin is thirsty. So don’t go running for Botox yet!


Your skin is more oily than usual

On the flip side of skin feeling dry and tight, skin can also overcompensate its oil production in an attempt to protect its self due to water loss. You guessed it, it’s that compromised barrier I keep mentioning. Feel like your oil production is excessive? Can’t stop reaching for blotting papers? Your skin is thirsty, again.


are you noticing a theme around over exfoliating?


A healthy acid mantle, aka your skin’s barrier function, is vital for balanced skin. Next week I’ll share with you how to restore your skin back to a healthy, happy state!


Any tips or tricks you’ve learned along the way when you’ve over-exfoliated? Comment below and share the beauty secrets with us! xx



5 thoughts on “7 Signs You’re Over Exfoliating Your Skin

  1. My skin is really flaky and has been for quite a while. I have a dermafile and have been using it when it’s worse than other times because the flaky skin shows thru my makeup no matter how much moisturizer I use. I have been using Yeouth Day/night cream w/hyaluronic acid morning and night. How can I get it normalized. My skin is also dry and sensitive to heavy creams which cause cholesterol deposits.

    1. If you don’t believe it’s from overuse of products I would suggest going to a dermatologist or working with a doctor to rule out any deficiencies or underlying health issues.

  2. I dont know if Im mixing too many things on my skincare. Wash my face twive a day eith Foreo Luna, dermaroll once a week (0.5 mm), use a glycolic acid toner every other night, clay mask once a week and want to start using The Ordinary retinoid in squalane once a week. Im terrified i might be over estimulating my skin.

    1. It’s very possible, I think for most your routine may be pushing the limits but everyone’s skin is different. If you’ve read the article and can relate to any of the symptoms, step back a little bit and see how your skin feels.

Share Your Thoughts