We are the first to say that exfoliation is a key to looking younger, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Being too aggressive can remove the protective barrier of the skin and begin a cascade of irritation.

The skin has a delicate lipid barrier that holds in moisture and keeps out irritants. If this barrier is distressed from too much exfoliation, it will alert you by appearing dry, feeling tight, and becoming red/rashy. Small fissures can form and allow bacteria and toxins in that irritate skin. Small white “milia” bumps appear as a result of the skin forming a cocoon around bacteria and toxins.

Initially, exfoliation is tricky. There should be enough cells shed to signal skin renewal but not so many that the skin becomes dry, tight or irritated. The secret is not to overdo it. If your skin looks red and angry, becomes painful or sensitive, or you see small white “pimples” after exfoliation, give it a rest and use a bland cleanser, hydrocortisone 1% and moisturizer for a few days while your skin recovers.