All About Exfoliation Guide.
Welcome to Part IX of our exfoliation guide!
Now that we've spent practically this entire guide teasing the dangers of over-exfoliating skin, how will you actually know whether you are going too far?
The classic signs are irritation, redness and inflammation. These are symptoms of the most acute levels of inflammation and may occur while you are exfoliating, or develop in the hours, days or even weeks afterwards. Generally speaking, the faster you experience symptoms of over-exfoliation, the more severe the damage is.
A good rule of thumb for assessing exfoliants is that if you feel it, you've probably gone too far. While you might feel a bit of tingling when you apply a chemical exfoliant, you should never feel itching or burning, and your skin should never appear red, shiny (shiny is not glowy), inflammed or any combination thereof. Your skin should also not appear stretched or dry when you've finished, especially after you moisturize.
If you have been chronically over-exfoliating, you can develop dry, flaky skin; rough, bumpy breakouts; or even a rashlike texture characterized by uneven skin tone and texture. All of these types of symptoms could begin appearing after weeks of over-exfoliation, but are more likely to occur after months or years, which can make them far harder to recognize as a symptom of your exfoliation routine.
As a special note, if you have a darker skin tone, exfoliation (chemical or physical) could cause discoloration referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Some of the spots developed may be permanent, or take active dermatological intervention to correct, so you should use extreme care in selecting an exfoliant. Unfortunately, many products are still not formulated with people of color in mind, so your best bet is to select products that are, or that specifically state that they will not cause PIH.