The Real Reason Your Skin is Flaking

Is your skin dry, red and flaking? If you've overdone it with certain skin-care products, such as a harsh peel, mixed the wrong products or have overused alcohol or acid-based skin-care, you might have done more harm that good. 

Anything that's too harsh and drying for the skin causes it to become sensitized, which can keep it from functioning optimally. Chemical peels do wonders in terms of exfoliation, but a common side effect of them is peeling and flaking. Overusing ingredients, mostly those that are for acne or anti-aging, like retinol and glycolic and salicylic acids, can cause a similar effect, leading to peeling, flaking and even a mild burning. "The skin often flakes after it has experienced some degree of inflammation, signaling that the inflammation is over," says Manhattan Beach, CA, dermatologist Ashley Magovern, MD.

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Any time the skin has been abused, is dry and compromised, you need to change what you're using. Celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy advises to switching to a gentle nonfoaming, fragrance-free cleanser. Next, apply a light hydrator (lotion or serum) to provide moisture. "Skip drying toners, which can dry out the skin. You want to get the skin to a point where it can 'breathe' again, so that it doesn't become congested and lead to even more problems," she explains.

When all else fails, apply a low-does topical steriod cream to the affected areas for a few days. "Make sure that you don't overuse the cream because it can cause acne and a rebound in redness. Check with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon on this one," says Dr. Magovern.

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