If your skin is dull or flakey, has rough texture or an uneven tone, you should consider exfoliating. If it’s puffy, shiny and breaking out, you might be over-exfoliating.

I’m sure at some point in your life, the importance of using a facial exfoliator became oh-so apparent. Perhaps your skin was looking dull or flakey, had rough texture or an uneven tone. No matter what the reason, I’m sure after that very first scrubbing you thought, “Wow! Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Exfoliation, or scrubbing the skin, is the process of polishing away the dead skin cells that build up on the surface. When you remove the dead cells, the newer skin beneath is instantly revealed. Your skin looks more radiant and definitely feels softer and smoother as a result. And quite frankly, you may just look a little bit younger and fresher after a good exfoliation. But, the question is, can something that looks and feels this good be bad for you? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You can get too much of a good thing.

If you are exfoliating a bit too much, you will experience some subtle changes in your skin. These changes may be in your skin’s appearance or in how it feels. Redness, irritation, dry patches and tightness are all examples of what could happen when you over do it.

Here are a few other signs to look out for to determine if you are over exfoliating your skin:

You’re breaking out.
Most people don’t equate skin breakouts with exfoliation. In fact, many people believe that if they are breaking out, they need to exfoliate to keep pores clear and free from clogging. But you can definitely experience breakouts if you’re scrubbing too frequently. When you scrub, you’re looking for that deep pore cleaning experience, but when you overdo it, you can end up with the opposite effect. You never want to compromise your healthy skin cells, as they are the ones that protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier. When you overdo it, you disrupt the moisture barrier, which can lead to hypersensitivity that can in turn lead to breakouts. And when this happens, there is no one to blame but yourself. Avoiding breakouts should be reason enough not to over scrub your skin.

Your forehead looks like a mirror.
If you notice that your forehead is super shiny, then you have probably over-exfoliated. Light has the ability to reflect off of over-exfoliated skin because the skin in those areas is very smooth and free from texture. Think of driving down a road in your car. On a normal day, you can see the stones, cracks and bumps in the road. Now, drive down that same road in the rain. The road looks slick and smooth as glass. Same road, same forehead, just a different perspective due to how light is reflected. So, if your forehead is looking a bit shiny, stop exfoliating. Once the shininess goes away you can start to exfoliate again. Just be gentle.

You’re looking puffy.
Believe it or not, if that reflection of yourself in the mirror is looking a bit puffy or swollen, then over-exfoliating may be the culprit. Excessive exfoliating can cause inflammation and even damage your skin’s natural lipid barrier. And, it doesn’t matter if you are using a physical exfoliator, one that contains granules and particles that physically slough off skin cells, or if you are using a chemical exfoliator where specific ingredients break down the dead skin cells. If you are over-doing it you may notice you are looking puffy and swollen.

To get the results that you are looking for with your facial exfoliator, follow these tips:

• Always be gentle. Massage your scrub into your skin in a circular motion. You are not sanding a piece of wood. This is your delicate skin so be gentle.
• Avoid over-exfoliating during the summer months. Unless you are very diligent with your sunscreens, freshly exfoliated skin doesn’t have the same barrier as skin that isn’t exfoliated. So just be sure to always apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside.
• Follow your facial scrubbing with a serum and moisturizer to replenish that much needed hydration. You may even notice that you are getting great results with your other skincare products. By removing that barrier of dead skin regularly, you are allowing your other products to better penetrate the skin.

Be sure to introduce a gentle facial scrub into your skincare regimen and exfoliate one to three times a week, as needed. Allow for a few days in between scrubbing so you don’t aggravate your skin and end up with a negative reaction. For some folks, once a week is sufficient. Only you know your skin. And keep in mind, it’s not just your face that benefits from a good exfoliation, your body will benefit as well.

The benefits of exfoliating are amazing when you are gentle and diligent. Just remember to take care of your skin, as the healthiest skin is always the most beautiful.

Written by beauty expert, Jacquie Carter – Director, Worldwide Outer Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife.