Pro Tips On How to Deal with Over-Exfoliation

Exfoliation treatments are best practice when it comes to revealing your clients’ best and glowing skin between their regular appointments. But what happens if your customer has a not-so-pleasant response during a pro glycolic or salicylic/lactic acid peel? Sometimes abnormal reactions can happen, so let’s take a look at a few tips to help (and prevent) a possible mishap in the treatment room.

Prevention is always better than a cure! Having a preliminary consultation with your customer mitigates the possibility of a bad reaction, by getting to know how their skin operates in the first place. Do they have any allergies to specific ingredients? Does the client react to products with itchiness, redness or burning? Is there hyperpigmentation on their skin? Asking these questions will not only guide you through adjusting their treatments, but it also allows you to curate an appropriate at-home skincare routine to maintain results. On this same note, it is never recommended to make a peel the first treatment on a new client. It is always better to do at least two to three treatments, and have them on good home-care so you know their skin and you also know it has been properly taken care before starting.

It’s an absolute must to determine the thickness of the skin to decide how long you will leave each layer on during the peel process. To determine the length of the peel, our Pros suggest the following:

  • Thin skin: 2 minutes
  • Medium skin: 3-5 minutes
  • Thick skin: 5-7 minutes


From the start, your clients need to know that they might experience a residual response from their peel. This is normal! Redness, swelling and occasional scabbing is to be expected during healing time. It’s the skin’s way of bouncing back from the process. Make sure to inform your clients about the importance of letting their skin do its thing, and to deviate from actions that will further irritate the skin. You want to ensure your customers already have proper home-care products that support the effects of the treatment.

Tip 1: Moisturizing Relief

The first step in relief is making sure that you immediately apply a soothing mask with calming properties. If your client is expressing discomfort during the treatment, lightly wash off the mask with water to immediately neutralize the skin. Apply your soothing mask to the face, neck and decollete and leave on for 10 minutes. Gently remove after the mask has penetrated the skin. For added relief at home, advise your clients to use their mask as a face lotion or moisture cream for extra comfort. 

Tip 2: Take a Gentle Approach at Home

When your body is recovering from illness, vitamin C is a godsend. The same applies to your face, too! Recommending a vitamin C serum to your customer will promote healthy skin cell turnover, which can help shed the flaky, dead skin that often presents itself with over-exfoliation. Vitamin C helps to lock in moisture, aids in wound healing and boosts collagen production, and won’t sting in a humectant formulation. While tempting, avoid additional exfoliation while your face is recovering. Truth is, over-exfoliating can remove the skin before it is ready which can lead to inadequate results and even scarring. Also, steer away from products high in acidity such as retinoids, tretinoins, and highly concentrated AHAs and BHAs. Encouraging your client to use the appropriate products at home ensures a successful outcome for their skin’s recovery.