8 Exfoliation Mistakes You’re Making, and How to Avoid Them

backstage beauty at Carven

Image: Imaxtree

When it comes to exfoliating, the worst mistake you can make is not doing it. Because, beauties, if you've ever wanted skin that glows, feels as tight as a drum and as soft as a baby's arse, there's one surefire way to get it: exfoliation. Moisturizers will promise the same results all day long, though following through on all those promises is hit or miss. And even if they do deliver, it usually takes weeks to see any results. Not so with exfoliating. Done right, you'll have a gorgeous complexion in 10 minutes or less.

Convinced that this is a must-have addition to your beauty regimen yet? For those women who exfoliate on the reg, take note: Even the most faithful exfoliating adherents might be sacrificing their perfect skin by making one of these mistakes listed below. I was one of them! So read (and then exfoliate) on. 

You're Forcing Your Skin to Overcompensate

Any woman who's seen the effects of a good exfoliation job firsthand will be tempted to think, "The more the better." But this just isn't true. Especially for women with oily or dry skin. If you slough off the surface layer of dead skin too often, your body will overcompensate by producing more oil or becoming even drier. You really shouldn't be exfoliating more than two times per week, three tops. And for most women once a week is perfect. 

You're Going Too Hard, Too Fast

Again, you might think, "If I go harder, my skin will be even softer and glow even more!" But your skin is delicate. If you cut it, it bleeds. And exfoliating scrubs, brushes and stones can cut it at the microscopic level, causing damage that might even produce scarring in the future. But you'll never have to worry if you use a "gentle, circular motion" to wipe away dead skin. 

You're Not Doing Your Body Good (or At All)

Removing that top layer of dead skin on your face does wonders for reviving and removing that pasty or gray, dull hue you get from natural dryness. It helps new cells literally shine on the surface. Skin not only looks better, it IS better. Healthier. And younger. So why save all that for your face? Give your body the treatment too, and don't forget your hands, neck and chest. Your middle-aged self will thank you. 

You Think a Dry Scrub is Most Effective

Dry scrubbing is a bad idea. Like any other effort meant to supercharge your exfoliation efforts (and results), this leads to all kinds of damage. It's painful to even think about it. Always make sure you've got water in the mix when you exfoliate. 

You're Not Moisturizing Afterwards

So, you're using water (which is good) but water, especially warm and hot water, robs your skin of its moisture. And since you've just taken off a layer of dead skin, you've just removed a protective barrier that keeps your natural moisture inside. (Albeit, an unattractive barrier, but a barrier nonetheless.) What to do? Moisturize as soon as you're done exfoliating, every time. 

You're Making Your Breakout Worse

Full disclosure, I've actually cured a major bangs-induced forehead breakout via exfoliating (gently) with baking soda. In part because baking soda is antibacterial. The extra oil and bacteria were killed off, helping those little white bumps go bye-bye. Having said that, if you have a rash, eczema, rosacea or the type of breakout that's broken skin, you need to skip exfoliating and treat it with proper care (preferably prescribed by your dermatologist).

You're Not Going Au Naturale 

Finally, read the label of whatever you purchase to exfoliate. The beauty industry is still, sadly, rife with harsh chemicals. Before you're tempted to buy that little $50 miracle jar that promises exfoliation beads and 13 other benefits, try something natural instead. Baking soda made into a paste with water is an alternative I swear by, but you can also use brown or white sugar, and oatmeal. Don't forget the water! Give "DIY exfoliating" a Google search and see what you come up with. When you do look at recipes, make sure you find one that says it works for your particular skin type.