The other day I had a friend ask me why her pores are not looking smaller despite exfoliating on a regular basis. After asking more questions and diving a little deeper into her whole skin care routine, we concluded that some of her products were not changing her skin for the better. She uses a mechanical face wash brush that oscillates to remove more makeup and dead skin cells along with a facial scrub in the shower almost daily. Mechanical brushes like these are advertised as gentle enough to use twice a day, which she does. This in itself is not the problem, however. For the record, many of the mechanical brushes are very efficient at cleansing and exfoliating and are in fact gentle enough for twice-daily use. The problem is that consumers tend to use it along with a facial scrub or other exfoliation technique like my friend. This may be because they do not see it as true exfoliation, but it is, and combining products like these lead to over exfoliation causing more skin trauma.
Over exfoliation causes dryness and reoccurring inflammation.
Many people (myself included once upon a time) exfoliate too aggressively as well as too often. Doing this damages the lipid layer (protective fat layer) of your skin. Damage to this layer allows more moisture loss to the skin, thus causing dryness. If inflammation occurs, your skin reacts to free radicals causing premature aging of cells.
Sometimes, skin trauma is good!
When you do exfoliate or cause skin “trauma,” it kick starts your skin into repair mode and promotes healthy cell regeneration and collagen production. Once again, too much trauma causes free radical damage that ages skin faster and way too soon. It’s safe to say that exfoliation 3 times per week, every other day (you want to give your skin a break and not do it back to back!) is a healthy amount to promote regeneration.
Over exfoliation can lead to discoloring.
Scrubs, cloths, mechanical brushes and other physical exfoliators may cause increased melanin activity in skin types that are more prone to discoloration. Be careful if you know you are one of these people or if you notice color reactions to different skin care methods. Sometimes you may not even know you are using a product that is too harsh for you and causing skin discoloration.
It sounds dumb, but don’t over-clean your skin, either!
Clean skin is healthy skin: TRUE. However, clean-like-my-bathroom-sink is not a good motto for how you want your skin (no Clorox bleach, please). It is possible to over cleanse and strip your skin of its healthy oils and bacteria that keeps it functioning.
And if you have questions about your skin type or cleansing methods, don’t be afraid to consult a dermatologist or esthetician!
If you are interested in a gentle exfoliating product, check out our Facial Scrub + Mask Two-In-One.