When should I use scrub? Avoid over exfoliating your skin

Do you feel your skin suddenly has become dry? Are you worried about the light puffiness or redness on your skin that seems to become more prominent after your daily skin care regimen? You might be over exfoliating your skin. While we all know that skin exfoliation is one of the most important parts of our skin care regime, over exfoliation can actually harm the skin cells. The point is, you need to strike the right balance when it comes to skin exfoliation; you do not exfoliate at all and you are sure to suffer from a lot of skin issues, and you over exfoliate, the list of problems you will face are not less either. So, how you can know if you are over exfoliating your skin? And when exactly you should use scrub?

In fact, there is no direct answer to these questions. There is no one-size-fits-all theory when it comes to skin care or skin exfoliation and hence the frequency of scrubbing should depend on your skin type as well as on a number of other factors. In this article we will take the best care to give you a good dose of information about skin exfoliation so that you can actually pick the right frequency of using scrub as well as the right type of scrub for your skin, which can be most effective to avoid over exfoliating your skin.

First let us start with why you need to exfoliate your skin,

The “why” of exfoliation

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The natural skin rejuvenation process involves replacement of the old dead skin cells by the new ones. This is the process that keeps our skin healthy and young looking. Exfoliation helps in removing the old dead cells from the surface of the skin, which also aids in speeding up the new cell generation process.

The body continuously generates new cells for replacing the old ones that are going to die naturally. However, all the old dead cells are not naturally removed from the surface of the skin, which results into layering up of dead cells on the skin surface creating a dull and unhealthy looking skin. Layering up of dead cells on your skin surface can cause more problems than just giving a dull, patchy look. Accumulation of dead cells on the skin surface is often the primary cause for clogged pores that results into blackheads, whiteheads or even into acne, in case a bacterial infection occurs. So, getting rid of these dead layers of cells from the surface of your skin is actually vital as it is one of the key ways to have a naturally healthy and problem free skin.

So, now you are clear about why you actually need to exfoliate your skin but doing it more is not certainly going to give you a better, problem free skin; rather over exfoliation can work as the primary cause of many skin woes. Next we will take a look at how over exfoliation can ruin your skin,

The evils of over exfoliation

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  • Over exfoliation of your skin creates micro abrasions on the skin which actually damage the new cells and accelerates the process of aging.
  • Exfoliating your skin more often than needed is one of the primary reasons of skin dryness. Often the scrubbers reap off even the necessary moisture of the skin, which can result into severe skin dryness.
  • Increased sensitivity of skin is another major problem that is often caused due to over exfoliation of the skin. When you remove even the fresh skin cells through scrubbing, it naturally increases the sensitivity of your skin, by removing the natural protective barrier of the skin.
  • Inflamed skin is another worst thing that can be caused due to over exfoliating. Skin redness, mild itching, higher temperature of the facial skin all can be caused due to exfoliating your skin more than needed.

Choosing the right scrubber

While the frequency of use of the scrubber is directly related with over exfoliation, the type of product you are using for exfoliating your skin also has a prominent say in that. So, before we inform you about when you should scrub your skin, first let us take a look at the types of scrubbers and points that you should consider while picking a scrubber for your skin.

First of all keep in mind that all the types of scrubbers available in the market are not effective or safe for every skin type and hence you actually need to take care about the scrubber you pick to use.

Mechanical and chemical exfoliants

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Exfoliants can be categorized into two broad sections; the chemical exfoliants and the mechanical exfoliants. Physical scrubbing with the help of a granulated product that contains nut shells, fruit seeds, sugar or salt, is in some form mechanical exfoliation. When you use a wash cloth or those scrubbing sponges or even bathing brushes they also work as mechanical exfoliants. On the other hand, most of the chemical based exfoliants contain mild acids like AHAs and BHAs, which can effectively remove the dead skin cells without scrubbing. They rather work more as a peeler to remove the dead skin.

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While scrubbing rigorously with a mechanical scrubber can harm your skin, using a skin care product with the chemical exfoliants has a much lesser chance of harm. However, if you use the chemical exfoliants more often than required, then too you will suffer from even more severe over exfoliating issues.

If you have sensitive skin the chemical exfoliators are always better bait for you than the mechanical ones. For dry skin, the AHA based exfoliants are most effective because they are water soluble. Whereas, for oily skins, the BHA based exfoliants are best suited because they are oil soluble and can penetrate the oily skin and clear the pores more effectively.  Always chose a scrubber that comes without any sharp edges that can cause abrasion on your skin. However, using products like sugar or salt in scrubbers is absolutely safe as they dissolve in water and become circular.

We had to go into all the details of choosing the right scrubber particularly because the frequency of using a scrubber always depends on the type of scrubber you are using apart from your skin condition and type. Now we will discuss when you should scrub to avoid over exfoliating your skin,

The right “time” to scrub

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For mechanical exfoliators: If you are using a mechanical exfoliator as described above in any form, you should follow these thumb rules for using the scrubber,

  • 1-2 times every week when you are in your 20’s
  • 2-3 times every week during your 30’s and
  • Every alternate day (max) after you cross 40

Under any circumstances, do not exfoliate more often than mentioned above, because it will not help your skin anyway, will only add to the skin problems.

For chemical exfoliators: Various chemical exfoliators come with various compositions and they might need to be used accordingly. In this case the best way is to go according to the treatment suggested in the label of the product. However, always keep the above thumb rules in mind and never overdo it.

However, though the above is considered as a general rule, always consider that every skin is different and in most of the cases they need different treatments. The need of exfoliation can also vary depending on the type of the skin. In addition to that, the weather can also play a critical role to decide how frequently you should exfoliate. If you have dry skin, scrubbing it more often is never a good option. So, the best suggested way, is to start with minimum times of scrubbing a week, and then to increase it slowly with age, if the need is felt.

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It is you who can decide the best for your skin.  If you are fully confused and not able to understand when you should use scrub to avoid over exfoliating your skin, you can always opt for suggestions from a skin care specialist. However, even she will give you suggestions depending on your report and the current skin condition observed. Hence, right from the age of 20, when you should start exfoliating, keep a close eye on your skin for any sign of over exfoliation as mentioned above, and always keep in mind that over exfoliation can do more harm to your skin than the good exfoliation can do.

Avoid over exfoliation through proper scrubbing technique

To avoid over exfoliating your skin, adopting the right scrubbing technique is also important.

  • Before you scrub your face, always make sure to damp it with clean water and then follow with the scrubber.
  • Always scrub your face in slow circular motion, placing light but firm pressure with your fingers.
  • Once you are done scrubbing, wash off with mild warm water.

Some scrubbers work better, particularly the chemical based exfoliators, when they are kept on the skin for some time after scrubbing. In this case, you should follow the use instructions that come with the product and use it accordingly.

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