Exfoliation Side Effects
Exfoliation side effects can be mild to severe. Products like chemical peels are actually a form of heavy exfoliation that can be very damaging and irritating. Exfoliating is a critical part of a good skin care routine, but needs to be done carefully.
Most exfoliation side effects are mild and temporary. Over exfoliation occurs when you scrub too vigorously and irritate the skin, or if you’ve used concentrations of alpha hydroxy acids products that are too strong. Dryness, redness, flaking, and itchy skin that may to hot to the touch are common complications. These side effects aren’t likely to leave any lasting damage. Don’t use any other form of exfoliation until your skin has completely healed. This includes all facial and body scrubs, microdermabrasion treatments, and any products that contain alpha and beta hydroxy acids like lactic, glycolic, malic, mandelic, and salicylic acid. You should also avoid strong anti aging products that contain retinoids and more than 5% Vitamin C. Mild concentrations of Vitamin C and other antioxidants can be helpful. Moisturizing over exfoliated skin is very important. Look for all natural formulations that don’t contain irritating ingredients. Botanicals like aloe, oatmeal, lavender, and chamomile can be helpful for soothing and calming irritated skin and may also help it heal.
If you are currently experiencing chemical peel side effects, there are things you can do to help your skin heal faster and reduce the risk of permanent damage. Skin that has been over peeled can be down right frightening to look at, but rest assured that it can heal. Do not pick at any skin flakes, black or brown streaks, or scabs. Let them slough off naturally. Avoid the other forms of exfoliation and strong products listed above, and be sure to moisturize frequently. Try to get some 100% pure aloe vera gel and apply it to the burned area. You can usually get it at a health food store. Be careful that it only contains aloe vera gel; many products made for sunburns have topical anesthetics that can sting. You can also try to find a product that contains the GHK-Cu copper peptide. Many of these products are specifically designed for use after a peel. Avoid wearing make up for at least a few days. It is also extremely important that you use sun protection at all times to avoid skin damage. You are at an increased risk of sunburn and discoloration for at least a month following a chemical burn from a peel.
You can avoid most exfoliation side effects by learning how to exfoliate properly. Don’t use too much pressure. Think, “polish” not “scrub”. It can take a few hours or until the next day before you realize you’ve over exfoliated. Gradually increase the intensity of your exfoliation treatments in the beginning. If you are using chemical exfoliation, make sure to start off with mild products. Don’t jump right into using peels or strong serums. Give your skin time to adjust gradually.
If you are using exfoliation to fade stretch marks or scars, don’t try to rush results by being too aggressive, especially in the beginning. You need to balance heavy exfoliation with rejuvenating skin care products. You also need to give your skin a break occasionally to allow it to recuperate. Accept that it will probably take a year or more to completely eliminate severe skin damage and don’t try to rush things.
Exfoliation side effects are usually temporary and won’t result in skin damage. Proper after care including sun protection will help your skin heal properly. When you resume exfoliating after your skin has fully healed, gradually work your way up to strong treatments.