The theory is clear: facial exfoliation helps eliminate dead skin cells, cleanse and unclog pores, thus combating imperfections and unifying the tone, so that the complexion looks smoother and more radiant. But, in practice, the truth is that not all skin types can – nor should – be exfoliated in the same way.
Exfoliating skin with excess sebum but that is not sensitive is not the same as exfoliating dry skin, a sensitive and reactive complexion, or acne-prone skin. This last group is the one that concerns us here. Well, a common mistake for acne-prone skin is to think that the more they exfoliate, the more they will eradicate pimple outbreaks. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Exfoliating the skin more than necessary will lead to a drier, more irritated, reddened complexion. As a result of this aggression and the feeling of tightness, the skin will produce more sebum in an attempt to restore itself, which is counterproductive, as the pores will become clogged again.
Plus, if you use an exfoliant that's too aggressive, you can spread the bacteria causing your pimples and make the breakout worse. You also run the risk of one of your pimples being damaged by this abrasion and turning into a wound which, in turn, leaves a difficult-to-remove mark on your skin in the form of a scar. In short, over-exfoliating and abrading acne-prone skin can worsen its imperfections, while increasing its sensitivity and inflammation.