All of the dermatologists I spoke to agree that exfoliating too much can harm your skin, so what’s the sweet spot for how often you can do it? It really depends on your skin type, but once a week is generally a good starting point, according to Robinson. She says if you don’t know your skin type or are unsure of frequency, you can start incorporating a mild chemical exfoliating cleanser or wash into your routine once a week.
If you do know your skin type, then that will help you personalize your routine even more to benefit your specific needs. “Those with dull or mature skin may be able to tolerate more frequent exfoliation,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip. “Those with sensitive skin or excessively dry skin may not be able to tolerate exfoliating as much. If you have sensitive skin and you find that your skin burns or stings after exfoliating, that is a sign that you are exfoliating too much. I recommend that those with acne-prone skin limit exfoliation to once weekly. More frequent exfoliation may strip the skin which will paradoxically stimulate oil glands to produce more sebum and more acne.”
There are times when you might have to exfoliate more than recommended. For example, when your skin is flakier than usual. “Some people, when they’re flaky, they think they’re dry and they’re afraid to exfoliate,” Robinson says. “But if you are noticing that you’re literally seeing flakes of skin, then you probably could benefit from more frequent exfoliation in the short term.”