Why is my Skin Peeling on My Face?

Why is my Skin Peeling on My Face?

By Britton Strickland, Ph.D.

NOV 15, 2022

Skin is the largest and one of the most critical organs in our bodies. It protects our internal organs from harsh environmental exposures, UV rays from the sun, and infections. However, when it is damaged from constant interaction with the outside world, it must initiate a healing process that can lead to unsightly, peeling skin. Although this process is normal, it is both preventable and treatable. Continue reading to learn more about the potential causes and treatments of skin peeling, particularly on the thin and sensitive skin of our faces.

Why is my skin peeling?

Environmental factors challenge our skin, particularly in exposed areas such as the face, neck, and hands. Sunburns, dryness, pollutants, and harsh chemicals can damage our skin cells, but the epidermal layers have a built-in function for quick repairs. When stressed skin becomes damaged, those cells die and accumulate in the skin’s outermost layer. This initiates our skin to shed those dead skin cells in order to make room for new healthy cells, resulting in sheets of skin cells that peel from the surface. Internal factors can amplify skin peeling, such as allergies and genetic conditions.

What causes peeling skin?

Skin peeling is ultimately caused by inflammation in the skin tissue and can be induced by various factors, the most common of which are sunburns and chemicals. Reactions to medication such as antibiotics and chemotherapy can also induce inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., toxic epidermal necrolysis that can leave large, raw areas of skin).1Additionally, allergic reactions on the skin can induce inflammation and cell turnover in response to exposures.2 Bacterial and fungal infections, such as Staphylococcus (“Staph”) infections and ringworm, can also induce skin peeling as a result of immune clearance of pathogens.3
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What are the causes of flaking and peeling skin on my face?

Dry, flaky skin on the face can lead to peeling. Our faces are not only more exposed to environmental factors, but they’re also covered with thinner skin than the rest of the body, with the most delicate skin being around the eye area. These thinner areas of skin are more prone to dryness and damage, which can lead to skin peeling. Facial skin is also more prone to chemical-induced damage and peeling from products containing acids such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid. These acids are present in many acne treatments and cosmetic peels designed to induce skin peeling for quick skin regeneration.4

Is peeling skin good or bad?

Desquamation–or skin peeling–is a harmless yet often unpleasant skin healing process [5]. Skin peeling is typically a sign that your skin is in the midst of its healing process, but it can also be a sign of excessive damage or underlying health conditions, including genetic diseases such as peeling skin syndrome [6], atopic dermatitis (or eczema) [7], and allergic contact dermatitis [8]. Although skin peeling is most often harmless, there are ways to treat and avoid it.

What should I do if my skin is peeling?

Peeling skin from dryness or sun exposure can often be mitigated by simply applying a daily moisturizer. Manually removing and picking loose skin can further damage these sensitive areas. If you have regularly peeling skin in the absence of external causative factors, consult your dermatologist for further investigation, as it may be a sign of an underlying skin condition. If you purposely had a chemical peel, then you should protect your skin from UV rays, pollutants, and other harmful chemicals.

People with dry skin and sensitive skin are more prone to develop flaky and scaly skin, and hydrating products are recommended for these skin types. Changes to your products or skin care routine can help with peeling skin. For example, consistently cleansing your face with a gentle daily cleanser that won’t strip or over-exfoliate the skin of its natural hydrating oils can prevent unnecessary damage to the skin barrier. Applying a moisturizer focused on keeping skin healthy can also prevent skin peeling and protect areas from further damage. If you’re looking for a gentle daily cleanser that doesn’t disruphttps://www.oneskin.co/products/os-01-facial-cleansert the skin’s microbiome or barrier function, consider trying PREP, formulated to provide a gentle cleanse and promote the skin’s optimal function.

Additionally, OneSkin’s OS-01 FACE is a Topical Supplement designed to improve the skin’s health at the molecular level and clinically validated to improve the skin’s barrier function by +15% on average*. OS-01 FACE is powered by the OS-01 peptide, which has been scientifically proven to**:
  • Support cellular repair and barrier function, which helps prevents skin peeling
  • Increase epidermal thickness and firmness, which helps protect the skin from damage
  • Support hyaluronic acid production, which boosts hydration
We recommend applying OS-01 FACE to the most exposed or damaged areas of your skin, like the face, hands, and neck to help prevent skin peeling.

*Shown in a 12-week clinical study performed by a third-party CRO
**Shown in lab-grown ex vivo human skin models


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8358280/
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2007.01282.x
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/peeling-skin/basics/causes/sym-20050672 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921757/
  4. https://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(18)32042-6/fulltext
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajmg.a.38468)
  6. https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(14)01181-6/fulltext
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2007.01282.x
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