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How To Restore Your Skin Barrier

January 1 | 3 minute read

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Words by Giorgi Strachan

Originally published on | May 7

We’ve all been there – when the allure of a smoother, brighter complexion leads us down the path of over-exfoliation.

But fear not; managing over-exfoliated skin doesn't require an exhaustive array of products or a big change in your routine – it’s a matter of recognising the signs and employing the right ingredients to restore skin back to its best state. In this guide, we explore the art of exfoliation and how to restore your skin should you take it one peel too far.

Back to basics: what is exfoliation?

Exfoliation – removing dead cells from the skin’s surface – plays an important role in maintaining skin health by preventing clogged pores (and therefore breakouts), as well as achieving a radiant and balanced complexion. However, not all exfoliants are created equal, and let's face it, we've all made questionable choices in the exfoliation department (looking at you, apricot scrub of yesteryear). Thankfully, we've evolved, and so has the skincare world, and there are plenty of options to suit your skin needs and broader skin goals.

Finding the right product for you

In choosing an exfoliant, the best place to start is with (a) your skin type, and (b) how you want your skin to feel. Each exfoliating ingredient provides benefits beyond simply removing dead skin cells – but could also have a less-than-desirable effect should it not be the best match for your skin.

For example, salicylic acid is a great match for oily or breakout-prone skin, as it works to decongest and balance oil production, all while preventing future breakouts from occurring. Easily integrated into any routine, Go-To’s Clarifying Exfoliator is a perfect gentle daily option.

Meanwhile, balanced, dry and dehydrated skin types should reach for exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid or enzymes. These help to slough away dormant skin cells while simultaneously hydrating your skin, leaving it soft and supple.

Sunday Riley's Good Genes hits the mark here, pairing lactic acid with soothing arnica (ideal if your skin is sensitive). Eve Lom's Rescue Peel Pads are another option; use once or twice a week to simultaneously exfoliate and calm skin.

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When you’ve overdone it

If your skin's showing signs of irritation, sensitivity, or dryness, it's time to dial your exfoliation back. Pausing the use of any astringent cleansers, resurfacing products or actives is the first step to getting your skin back in balance.

Instead, opt for gentle, hydrating products that contain soothing and nourishing ingredients. Products that are rich in ceramides – such as Drunk Elephant’s Bora Barrier Cream – along with formulas that replenish and act as a physical barrier (in lieu of your own), such as REN Clean Skincare’s Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm.

Finally, don't forget to be patient; counteracting over-exfoliation takes time, but with the right products, you'll soon have your skin back on track.

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