Can exfoliation damage the skin?

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. While some people believe it improves

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. While some people believe it improves the appearance of their skin, it's not for everyone. If not done correctly, it can cause more harm than good.

If you choose to exfoliate, it's important to do so safely so it doesn't damage your skin and lead to increased redness or acne.

Because not every type of peel may work for every skin type, it's important to consider your skin type before choosing an exfoliation method:

Sensitive skin may sting or burn after using the product

Normal skin is clean and not sensitive

Dry skin is scaly, itchy, or rough

Oily skin is shiny and oily

Combination skin is dry in some areas and oily in others

There are two main methods of at-home exfoliation – mechanical and chemical – and the method you choose should be guided by your skin type.

Mechanical exfoliation uses a tool such as a brush or sponge or scrubs to physically remove dead skin cells. Chemical peels use chemicals such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids to gently dissolve dead skin cells.

To prevent skin damage during peeling, dermatologists recommend the following tips:

Consider the skin care products you already use. Some medications and even over-the-counter products can make your skin more sensitive or peel, such as prescription retinoid creams or products containing retinol or benzoyl peroxide. Exfoliating while using these products can worsen dry skin or even cause acne.

Choose an exfoliation method that suits your skin type. Those with dry, sensitive, or acne-prone skin may prefer just a washcloth and a gentle chemical peel, as mechanical exfoliation can be too irritating for this skin type. Those with oily and thicker skin may want to use stronger chemical treatments or mechanical exfoliation. However, avoid strong chemical or mechanical exfoliation if you have a darker skin tone or notice dark spots on your skin after burns, insect bites, or acne. For some people, especially those with a darker skin tone, more aggressive forms of exfoliation can lead to dark spots on the skin.

Be kind to your skin. If you are using a peel or chemical exfoliator, apply the product gently in small, circular motions. Do this for about 30 seconds and then rinse with lukewarm – not hot – water. If using a brush or sponge, use short, light strokes. Never exfoliate if you have open cuts or wounds or if your skin is sunburned.

Follow with a moisturizer. Peeling can dry out the skin. Apply moisturizer immediately after exfoliating to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.

Find the right schedule for you. How often you exfoliate depends on your skin type and exfoliation method. In general, the more aggressive the peeling, the less often it needs to be done. Be careful not to exfoliate too much as this could lead to redness and skin irritation.

Irfan Yaqoob

467 Blog posts