Acne and exfoliating: does it make your skin worse?

All the ads will have you believe that exfoliation is a MUST but if you have acne-prone skin you need to steer clear of exfoliating.

By beautyheaven's Erin Berryman
All the ads will have you believe that exfoliation is a MUST in your skincare routine if you're vying for a fresh and radiant complexion. Well prepare to have that notion turned upside down - we're debunking one of the biggest acne myths. While sometimes necessary, if you have acne-prone skin you should stay clear of exfoliating.
If you're battling acne you no doubt have a rigid skincare routine, which includes overzealous face-scrubbing in the hopes of scrubbing your face 'clean'.
"Most of my clients with acne feel like they want to 'scrub off' their congestion and breakouts but this impacts the skin's barrier and its ability to hydrate itself, which is critical in reducing congestion," advises skin expert and The Beauty Elixir founder Romy Burgess.
Exfoliating also abrasively gets rids of all your healthy skin cells, which you need to protect the skin from further breakouts.
When it comes to acne, over-exfoliating is the biggest mistake you can make and it actually has the total opposite effect than intended. The result is the very thing you've been trying to prevent: hypersensitive skin that can lead to breakouts.

Signs you're over-exfoliating

  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Inflamed skin
  • Persistent breakouts
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Small, rough bumps

What do to if you've over-exfoliated

Consult our below recovery plan to help restore your skin back to its baseline texture AKA its original state before over-exfoliation. Baseline texture will vary for everyone.
  • First things first – hold back the exfoliator (including chemical acid-based exfoliants)
  • Stop all foaming cleansers and retinol products
  • Switch to a gentle cream or oil cleanser
  • An essential fatty acid supplement
    "By taking a good quality essential fatty acid you are going to produce better quality, more fluidised sebum that doesn't get stuck in your pores," explain Burgess. Beautyheaven loves: Bestow Beauty Plus Oil, $72
  • Spot treat extremely irritated areas with a rich emollient or hydrocortisone cream
  • Implement a soaking ritual
    "Our number one recommendation for 99 per cent of our congested, acne-prone clients is to add a soaking ritual to their routine. By hydrating the skin morning and night you are promoting proper cell function within the epidermis, and once the cells start to function properly everything can eventually come back into balance."

How to do a skin soak

Follow the below steps every morning and night:
  • Partially fill your hand basin with warm water
  • Put a high-quality cleansing cloth into the water
  • Wring out excess water then press the cloth onto your face
  • Take five slow, deep breaths
  • Repeat x3
  • Finish with a fragrance-free moisturiser
  • undefined: beautyheaven's Erin Berryman