Totally. 1000%. No product is exempt from the potential to disrupt that precious skin barrier of yours. Especially acids.
When you get a little overzealous with chemical exfoliation (AHAs, BHAs, PHAs) it can cause long term harm. If you’re using these ingredients daily, and that frequency is not compatible with your skin type or concerns, the skin can be stripped of its natural sebum, and truly upset the pH balance. Mistakenly opening the door for Mrs Sensitivity.
Sometimes over-exfoliation can masquerade as radiance for a short while, but then it starts to degenerate to dry skin, rough patches and unexplainable rashes.
A lot of people make the mistake of starting or continuing exfoliation when their skin is already in a compromised state. Say wind burn, or sun damage. Your skin needs to be in a really healthy way before you can even think about incorporating this step.
So, what do I do if I have over-exfoliated?
If you’ve used an acid that is too strong for your skin, and notice the effects of over-exfoliation immediately after application (burning, stinging, redness, inflammation) a cold compress can help to soothe these sensations. Ice cubes, ice packs, cloths, aloe vera from the fridge, these are all wonderful options for immediate relief.
The next step would be to significantly reduce (or stop) the use of acids altogether. Give your skin barrier a real chance to heal and recover. It may feel like a bit of a setback on those radiant, glowing, clear skin goals, but switching your skincare routine from attack mode to protect mode is what will get your baseline skin texture back.
Your please-save-and-soothe-my-skin routine could and should simply include: a balancing cleanser, hydrating serum, nourishing face cream, and SPF50. When, and only when, your barrier has been given time to regenerate itself, can you start to think about slowly introducing those actives back into your routine. This could be a month or two. Don’t rush it.
If your skin is still feeling tender to touch, quite raw or aggravated after an extended period of time, leave it alone, and book a consultation with your derm to discuss the best personalised treatment.
Are they safe to use long term then?
Chemical acids have a proven track record (decades!) of safe use in beauty products. When well formulated to include calming agents too, there’s even less of a concern.
If you’re new to these acids and this type of exfoliation, we highly recommend starting slowly (2-3 times per week), to gradually build up that tolerance for long term use in your routine.