Advice | The Exfoliation Addiction

If you didn't realise by now, my approach to skincare is all about balance and observation. Our skin is a reflection of our inner bodily functions which is also working on a supremely balanced system.

Over the years, I have learnt that result don't come over night (shock horror). So, it pains me that so many women and men want quick results when they don't even understand how long it took for the skin to become so damaged.

Our skin is made up of many many layers that make its way up from the base of the epidermis to the surface (where you can see the skin). This process takes time, 28-40 days in fact, and so does the process of manufacturing completely new, healthy skin layers.

Now that we've got how our skin works, let's talk exfoliating. In my previous post I touch on the subject of overexfoliating. From the numerous people I encounter everyday, I'd say 20-30% are overexfoliating. That really scares me. What do I mean by overexfoliating?

  1. Scrubbing with manual scrubs more than 3 times a week.
  2. Using an exfoliating facial cleanser everyday.
  3. Applying layers of peels and chemical exfoliators.

These methods are great, if you want to feel clean. But that's just it. It is merely a feeling, and I'm afraid this feeling has led to addiction. Sure, you may love it, but you start to realise your skin feels drier than normal, its not as smooth as when you first scrubbed, you start to see scaly skin that can't be soothed by your moisturiser, and finally that abnormal breakout you've been trying to prevent this whole time. So you scrub again, and again. The cycle just goes on and on. Don't even get me started on the stress triggered acne.

Why is this happening you may ask? Well our body is super smart, think of it like an AI program set to survival mode at all times. Whatever damage it may endure, our body reacts to compensate. You get hit - oh look a bruise. Break a bone - healing time. Scrub your skin - hey lets make new skin.

This is great because when our body makes new skin, it is also rebuilding collagen and elastin layers to support the new cells. The not-so-good side; scrubbing everyday can program your body to go into overdrive. Constant scrubbing doesn't give your body enough time to push up the new layers of skin nor enough time to make new cells. Your body starts to overcompensate and make rougher cells in order to protect itself from 'damage'. Part of the process, is an overproduction of these rougher skin cells, leading to trapped oils, acne, dehydration, etc.

These are all adverse effects of overexfoliating. Don’t worry, we have all been there. It is really common to want to scrub/peel all the time but it is unnecessary. Even products that are meant to be for daily use, I feel they weaken our skin's ability to shed naturally. We are disrupting our skin's natural ability to shed if we exfoliate too much. Helping our skin along every 2-3 times a week is okay.

This was a fairly in-depth post and I just wanted to get this message out there. Really think about your skincare routine and question why things might not be working for your skin. Observe what is happening. Your acne didn't form in a day, so why do you think it will be gone in one? Scarring and pigmentation is in the same boat.

Hope this post is helpful for some of you. Please leave a comment if you've found it helpful or have an opinion on exfoliating.

Edit: After listening to an interview with Dr. Dennis Gross and Emma G (a podcast I highly recommend listening to), I'd like to add that I'm merely talking about using too many exfoliators. His method of having a gentle-mild peel everyday is something I understand and definitely recommend to people. His peels mimic the constant skin cycle and shedding. What I don't like, is layering more peels and exfoliators products on top. I.e. Glycolic toners, sal acid moisturisers etc.