How To Deal With Peeling Skin

July 10, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Whether you are a confessed sun goddess or never leave home without SPF 50, peeling skin can happen to the best of us. And doesn’t it always strike at the worst of times, like when we’re getting ready for a formal event and our eye makeup looks flawless, but we can’t figure out what to do about the scales on our nose? The temptation to pull off dead, dry skin is real, but often leads to a frustrating new layer of flaky skin beneath it. Dr. David E. Bank, board certified dermatologist and founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, sets the record straight about peeling skin, how to get rid of it, and the one thing you absolutely should not do.

What Causes Peeling Skin?

“Peeling is caused when the bonds that holds the skin together are broken. Extreme dryness dries out the bonds between the cells which makes them weaker and more fragile.” On days when you wake up and find your skin is a great deal drier than usual (despite not having been out in the sun), the explanation may be as simple as what’s not filling your glass because peeling skin is a result of a lack of proper hydration.

If you are spending more a lot of time in the sun, then you know exactly what’a to blame for the peeling. “A sunburn can cause peeling because it dries out the skin and damages the bonds between the skin cells,” Bank says.

What Are The Best Ways To Deal With Peeling Skin?

“The best thing to do is cover the peeling areas with loose fitting clothing. You also can apply aloe vera gel, coconut, shea butter, or jojoba oil. I also like CeraVe and the Aveeno brands of moisturizer,” Bank says.

“If you have sensitive skin, you can also boost your skin’s hydration by using products containing hyaluronic acid (HA) spheres, which are captured in the surface of the skin and help to trap moisture. Also, you can combat dryness with occlusive moisturizers like shea butter or petrolatum.  To improve dry skin, you can also use a hydrating mask while you sleep, which will penetrate your skin and gently remove dry skin cells from the surface of the skin by the next morning. Do not choose an oil-based hydrating mask for the face, as they tend to clog your pores and your skin may develop blackheads. A tip here is to look for a ‘non-comedogenic’ (non-pore clogging) mask.” One to try: Caudalie Purifying Mask, which helps slough away dead skin cells.

One thing you shouldn’t do to peeling skin? Mask it with cosmetics. “Makeup will only emphasize peeling and become ‘cakey’ in the drying, peeling skin. Keeping skin hydrated and moist is the best thing you can do for peeling skin,” Bank says.

How Can You Prevent Peeling Skin?

“Drink water–at least eight glasses a day. Use gentle soaps and a moisturizer every day, especially after a shower or bath, and moisturize while skin is still wet.”

If you’ve never African Black Soap, which contains shea butter, it could prove to be the salvation for your dry skin. Not only can it help reduce acne and balance out skin, it also exfoliates, moisturizes and smells incredible.

And since you probably don’t want to swear off the beach for the rest of your life, Bank says there are steps you can take to ensure you have a fun, burn and peeling skin-free day. “SPF should be applied every two hours and especially after swimming. Wearing a hat and staying under an umbrella during peak hours (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.) also helps. Also, be aware of cloudy days, as the sun still burns through the clouds and can fool you into thinking you are not being exposed to any sun. It’s an easier way to get more sun exposure and risk of a sunburn than you think.”

Should You Peel Peeling Skin?

In a word: NO. “This is a bad move,” Bank says. “You can injure your skin cells and bonds further.”

For more beauty tips, check out what it really takes to achieve mermaid hair if you’re a brunette and  4 tips for keeping oily skin under control in the summer heat.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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