Following on from the ‘The importance of exfoliation’ blog, there was a mention that while exfoliation is important for many skin type, there is a fine balance between exfoliating and over exfoliating. Over-exfoliation can cause damage to your skin whether temporary or more long lasting.

What are the aims of exfoliating? 

The skin is constantly shedding what is referred to as the ‘dead’ skin cells on its own approximately every 28 -40 days. It is a natural ongoing process but it is slowed down by a number of factors;

  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Sun exposure
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Ageing

There are huge benefits from assisting exfoliation as it will help to regulate and accelerate the shedding process particularly as we age.  If your natural exfoliating process has slowed down this can cause dullness, uneven skin tone, loss of firmness and lines. Exfoliation is a crucial step in a skin care regimen but finding the delicate balance between over exfoliating and getting the right amount is unique to you. The goal is for you to get to know your skin type whether it is thin, thick, oily, dry, sensitive, reactive, red, acne prone and the ability for you to read your tell tale signs of healthy limits for keeping your skin barrier intact.

What is over exfoliation?

It is the act of overusing an exfoliation product such as facial scrubs, enzymes or superficial chemical acids. The frequency, aggressive application or strength of these products is causing the skin barrier to break down by removing too many layers of the skins protection. We recommend you pay attention to signs that indicate you are over-exfoliating so you can take control.

  • Red, reactive, itchy, burning skin meaning your skin is irritated and now more prone to
    contact dermatitis
  • Skin feels tight and uncomfortable signs of the skin being stripped of its natural oils
  • Skin appears shiny as it has been smoothed down
  • Rough, flaky and/or peeling the skin showing signs of losing the ability to retain water
  • Dry/ rough or crepey skin signs of dehydration
  • Skin is more oily than usual causing skin breakouts ‘acne’


How often should we be exfoliating?

This can vary from person to person. So, knowing your own skin and listening to it is the key.
If you are unsure, we always advise to air on the side of caution and starting slowly. So, this may be a gentle enzyme exfoliate and using only once a week.

How to tackle over-exfoliation?

If you have over exfoliated and your skin is showing the signs, we recommend:

  •  Stop exfoliating use only a gentle cleanser
  • Start healing the skin by using calming, anti-inflammatory products. A barrier cream can be very beneficial as this will act as your skin barrier while yours repairs
  • Protect your skin until it repairs an absolute must is using daily sun-protection, physical UV blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as they are less irritating

Then it is important to give your skin time to repair.
You can contact us for advice and recommendations of appropriate skin products to use and we will happily support you through this process.

Key Message:

Everyone’s skin is unique to them and you will need to experiment to find out the right amount of exfoliation for you. Different skin types and concerns will influence the method of exfoliation and frequency your first step is finding your personal zone: not too little and not too much exfoliation you need it to be right. Start with gentle products and you can increase frequency and concentrations once you know how your skin will react. We recommend you work with a skin professional.

Product Recommendations for Repairing Over-Exfoliated Skin 


  • Designed to repair the skin barrier which stops water loss in the skin
  • Includes lipids, the skin’s natural fats, for complete healing to the barrier
  • Lipids play a key role in maintaining the smoothness and firmness of skin
  • Facilitates natural development of the outside layer of the skin
  • Contains cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides needed to repair the skin
  • Deeply hydrating for even the most damaged skin


  • Contains Heparan Sulfate Analog, (HSA) is our proprietary glycosaminoglycan analog. HSA helps promote skin health by improving the appearance of mature, photoaged and dehydrated skin.
  • Improves the appearance of skin texture and firmness
  • Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Enhances skin tone for a more youthful radiance

IS Clinical Sheald - Medifine UK

  • Stimulates human keratinocyte differentiation while decreasing inflamation
  • Reduces irritation & discomfort with a thick antimicrobial environmental barrier
  • Increases collagen synthesis
  • Softens & hydrates raw, dry, sensitive skin
  • Antioxidant rich formula minimizes scars

TTS_OMEGA 6 Healing Cream - Medifine UK

  • Stimulates the skin’s inherent regenerative properties
  • Speeds recovery from cuts, burns, and scars
  • Provides relief from inflammation and irritation following skin resurfacing treatments
  • Soothes and moisturizes severely dry and damaged skin
  • Softens and heals skin with fat-soluble Vitamin C
  • Deeply hydrates, brightens and firms collagen depleted skin

dermaviduals-dms-cleansing-milk-150ml - Medifine UK

  • Gentle cleansing and skin care without emulsifiers
  • creamy, gentle cleansing milk will cleanse the skin leaving it soft and smooth
  • free of emulsifiers, preservatives and perfumed which often cause irritation.