Here's Why You Should Be Careful About Exfoliating Your Skin Too Often

Studio Firma/Stocksy

We all love having a pamper in the shower or bath, and traditionally, it's a time and a place to relax and treat ourselves to some TLC. From washing our hair to freshly shaving our legs, being in the shower should be a period of our day when we can truly feel at ease. However, a new survey by Dove has proven that not only do we now use our shower time to overthink things and spiral into negative thought processes, we also tend to be a bit too harsh on our skin. But can you over-exfoliate your skin? Dove's findings seem to suggest so.

The survey has discovered that, on average, women scrub (be that exfoliating or otherwise) their skin five times a week, tweeze twice, shave twice, and wax once. And while there's a common thought process that sees us believing that more is more when it comes to cleanliness, we could actually be damaging our bodies by doing so much to them all the time.

In fact, experts at Dove have revealed that all this scrubbing and tending to hair removal can have such an adverse affect; it can actually wear down the skin's microbiome, which is an invisible protective ecosystem of bacteria that skin needs to remain healthy.

Milles Studio/Stocksy

"Your skin microbiome plays a key role in keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy, moisturised and resilient," explains women’s health expert Dr Sarah Jarvis. "The microbiome protects your skin from unfriendly organisms, helps manage pH levels, and also produces nutrients."

So how can we protect this layer of skin? Well, Dr Jarvis recommends toning it down with all the constant scrubbing and hair removal. In short: gentle is best.

"The best way you can protect your skin microbiome so it can protect you, is by being gentle — in both the products you use and the pressure you apply," she says.

So how often should you actually be using a body scrub? Well, most experts will agree that around one to three times a week is best. I have personally found from experience that a couple of times a week will do the job nicely.

However, there are times when you should definitely not reach for a body scrub, Women's Health notes, including after getting sunburn, or after you go into hospital for any type of surgery. Skin needs time to settle and regain its strength in these scenarios.

How often you scrub also arguably depends on the type of product you use. There are some incredibly soft and gentle body scrubs around these days, a favourite of mine being the Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin Nourishing Body Polish. The formula features some super moisturising ingredients (such as Coconut Milk) to balance out its exfoliating effects.

If your skin is sensitive, you are probably best to forgo the body scrub altogether, and opt for another type of body exfoliation. Body brushing is a great way to slough away dead skin cells, and some body creams now come with built in AHAs so you exfoliate as you nourish. The Ren one, for example, is a great choice.