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Why Is My Facial Scrub Causing My Skin to Breakout?

Facial scrubs are an essential component of any comprehensive skin care regimen. Facial scrubs help slough away dead skin cells, which trap dirt, oil, bacteria and other irritants. While you need to occasionally exfoliate for optimal skin health, sometimes facial scrubs can cause breakouts. This may be normal…or it may be a sign that you need to try a different product.

When Breakouts Are Normal

It may seem counterproductive, but facial scrubs causing breakouts is normal and can be very healthy. By removing dead skin cells, facial scrubs allow oil, dirt, bacteria, etc. that were trapped deep within pores to come to the surface. The blemish that results is actually the  body’s way of expelling toxins completely.

Breakouts that occur anywhere from two to four weeks after a gentle scrub are normal. If you know that your breakout is the result of a recent scrub, then treat it gently. There is no need for harsh, over-drying acne products. Twice daily cleansing and a light non-comedogenic moisturizer will clear away impurities. Products that gently encourage more rapid cell turnover, like Re-Fine Milk Lotion, which has a high Vitamin A (retinol) content, may help your skin more quickly recover.

When Breakouts Are a Sign of Skin Damage

Breakouts that last longer than four weeks after a scrub are probably signs that your skin needs some TLC. There are a few potential causes for prolonged breakouts, including:

  • Increased sensitivity, possibly an allergy to an ingredient in the scrub (contact dermatitis can often looks like mild acne)
  • Over-scrubbing causing an overproduction of oil in an effort to restore hydration

It is possible that your breakouts may not actually be breakouts but rather inflammation. If you use a facial scrub that uses uneven scrubbing particles, the scrub actually causes small tears in your skin. Bacteria can infect these tears, and the tears themselves can incite an inflammatory response.

No matter what the cause, stop using your current facial scrub immediately. Depending on the severity of your acne or skin irritation, you may want to consult an esthetician or dermatologist.

What Facial Scrubs to Try

If you are new to facial scrubs, you do not have to let the threat of acne scare you away. As noted above, brief acne outbreaks are actually a sign of healthy skin. The key is to use products that are formulated to gently slough away dead skin cells and other impurities. Hale Cosmeceuticals has a number of gentle exfoliation products, including our Dermist GSL-624 Clarifier, which removes dead skin cells using mild acids rather than harsh buffers. Our Marula Enzyme Masque is another excellent option for a deeper clean, safe for use up to two times per week.

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