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Post in Beauty Advisors

Flaking Skin from Retinol

Hi! I have a great skin care routine that has been working extremely well for my dry skin. However, I am using retinol once a week and at times my skin is sort of flaky/peeling. I am not sure how to minimize how this looks, I have some gentle scrubs that I use but don't want to get too aggressive and irritate my face. I have to use powder foundation as opposed to liquid because powder hides it better. Now that I think about it, some weeks I use AHAs mid-week and I think I actually have less peeling then...should I make sure to always include the AHA exfoliation mid-week when I'm using retinol? Would that make that much of a difference? Would love any thoughts from the experts or others who have experienced the same. Thanks! Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Yes!  I second chemical exfoliation for avoiding too much scrubbing and scrub irritation.  This is what AHAs and other chemical exfoliators are good for - from Glycolic acid, to enzymes, to BHAs.


I find I flake/redness/peel/soreness&irritation incredibly from prescription retinol, even the supposedly buffered kind.  Dr. Dennis gross Alpha Beta pads help, as does a ton of moisturizer every night.


I haven't tried Retinol since getting my Clarisonic Aria, but I bet the aria will help SOME with flakes, as well.


I find Philosophy Microdelivery (it's bright pink) works really well to banish flakes for me.


Good luck!

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

I realized after I reread this that the DrDG pads might be too drying for you -- if you have very dry skin to begin with.  But definitely use acid products to help take care of flakes.  Microdelivery is a good one.

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

totally unrelated: 

i saw your avatar and i was all HOLY CRAP I LOVE YOUR HAIR. and then i saw your name. and realized that was jennifer garner in a wig. haha. so, i guess... HOLY CRAP I LOVE YOUR AVATARS WIG! Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

What retinol based product are you using, as well as what AHA product are you using mid-week?


When and how often do you apply the retinol in a day (just at AM, just at PM, twice a day, etc.)?


Give us some more info in terms of the specific products used so we can get a better idea of formulations to be sure you won't overload your skin.


What powder foundation do you use?


Though powder foundations have come a long way, if your skin tends to naturally be on the dry side plus experience peeling/flaking due to your skin care regimen, try to be sure the powder foundation being used is finely milled and as smooth as possible in texture to prevent it from emphasizing issues further. You might look into hydrating formulas like Smashbox's HALO Hydrating Powder (which has encapsulated water molecules along with a long slew of nourishing vitamins, minerals, and amino acids), Laura Mercier's Smooth Finish Powder Foundation (which uses vitamin E and shea butter to moisturize), or even top skin off with a hydrating finishing powder that is translucent like Urban Decay's Razor Sharp (also contains encapsulated water molecules in a high definition, silica based formula that helps diffuse light over texture imperfections).


Flaking is quite common with uses of retinol or even chemical based exfoliations, after applying your moisturizer before make up, use a silicone/dimethicone based primer to smooth over skin and form a "cushioned" barrier over your skin's texture and make up to prevent it from caking, settling, and drawing the issues more to light. The S/D based primers have a silky, slippery texture and is also helpful if skin gets wind or sun chapped and needs some "protection". Try Hourglass' No. 28 Serum Primer (super lush and fortified with nourishing ingredients), Too Faced's Primed & Poreless (pink tube), Smashbox's Photo Finish primers (they also have a hydrating formula which is blue to impart more moisture to skin), or Benefit's Porefessional.



Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Hm, I tend to be on the dry side of combo & love exfoliation. But I've been exfoliating for a while and build my skin up to it. Are you using prescription Retinol, or something from a beauty counter? 

I find the AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel works well for me in the morning to help eat away at dead skin cells.


I also increase my moisturization while using retinol. I recently got the PTR oilless oil and pat a drop on my dry areas or mix a drop with my moisturizer.


You can also try using a hydrating mask like OH Blue/Black

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Thank you all so much for the replies! It was kind of an embarrassing day at work, it was quite obvious my skin was peeling and I got self-conscious. But on the bright side, I guess it means the retinol is working? Smiley Happy dannyc, thank you very much for the product recommendations and links, I will be looking into those! lylysa, the products I'm using are ironically two of the only four items I rely on that I don't actually get at Sephora. (I WISH Sephora carried SkinCeuticals!!). My retinol is not an Rx, it's SkinCeuticals .5 retinol that I use once a week, putting it on at night and wasting it off in the morning. The AHA is Derma E Evenly Radiant Overnight Peel, again applying at night and washing off in the morning. I try to keep the two treatments two days away from each other. My power foundation is Bare Minerals, but I love your suggestions and will look into them! I have Smashbox primer which I could use more, I just was finding primers kind of suffocated my skin but at least for peeling days it would be worth it. Love the primer suggestions too! I have some products to look at! jamielove, hahaha thanks! It's from her series Alias which I love. One of my favorite scenes is her going through the airport with that wig, the pilot episode. Nicohr, I actually have the Alpha/Beta pads that I could try to see if it helps with the peeling, just I did find they were quite drying as you noted. Dry skin is such a pain! I will look at the Philosophy product you mentioned. I am very grateful for the input and advice! Curious if the peeling is something that I will be seeing on a regular basis? On the upside, my regimen has made a big difference in my skin. I took a picture of my eyes before, I had very distinct wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes. They have not gone away but it's significantly improved, I am certainly happy. Smiley Happy Just need to fix the peeling skin now! Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Oh I used the SkinCeuticals 0.5 before I found the PTR retinol fusion PM (It's a serum & easier for me to apply) 

I take a break every summer from retinol because I get really sensitive to the sun from it. But I'm slowly working my way up to every other night right now. I alternate with the SkinCeuticals Retexturizing Activator. 

I actually stopped using Bare Minerals completely when I started using retinol a few years back. I found BM to be really drying and always made me look terrible. I still use powder foundations and cream to powder... just always pack on the moisturizer beforehand. 

I also keep a small tube of First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream. I mainly use it on my hands or arms, but if I start to flake during the day then I pat a tiny bit onto the dry spot without disrupting my makeup. 

You're skin should balance out after a few weeks if you're adequately moisturizing your skin. Which is why most retinol products say to start 2x a week and gradually increase to nightly. This takes me about a month or two, but I'm used to exfoliation. I doubt I'm going to use it nightly now that I've been using the Retexturizing Activator. 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

dannyc, I appreciate the feedback on Bare Minerals, that may be part of my problem. Also nice to know my skin will balance out in a couple of weeks, not sure I could deal with this every day!  Smiley Happy  I used AHAs last night, scrubbed this morning and put on two layers of moisturizer before starting my makeup.  LOL  So worth it though if it means it's working.


Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Something else that would help would be the Hydrating B5 moisturizer.

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Yes! I just finished my bottle a few weeks ago. I do think the Oilless Oil provides a bit my hydration though 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

I think everyone's skin is different. I just love this stuff but if we all got the same results on every product things would be pretty boring!Smiley Wink

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Oh it's a great product, like I said, I just finished my bottle, it was actually my second bottle. But I tried something else that works even better for my dry skin. 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Thanks, beautylovingirl!  There is someplace local I could get a sample from to try it out.  Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Your welcome sorry it took me so long to reply back. Just ask any thing,any time.

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Sorry my reply didn't show up with paragraph breaks, for some reason input from my tablet doesn't seem to recognize them, so it's just one big paragraph.

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

I wanted to thank everyone who posted such helpful advice!  I added back a night of AHAs, I also am using the Dr. Dennis Gross alpha beta pads a bit more, plus I have MAC toner (has a bit of salicylic acid in it I think) that I'm using sometimes too (obviously not all of this at once).  In addition, I am doing double layers at times of my moisturizer - one coat then when it's absorbed a second coat.  It all seems to be helping a lot!


Really appreciate your posts, THANK YOU for helping me get through that flaking skin situation!!  Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

And how's the flaking? Is it starting to subside? Are you planning on using the retinol more often then just 1x a week? 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

dannyc, it seems to be gone for now and I will be vigilant with the new routine in hopes of minimizing it. Retinol only once a week for now until I'm sure my skin can take it. Smiley Happy Thanks for all of your help!!

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

I'm glad it's calmed down! 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Some new developments. The flaking continues 2-3 days after using retinol. I went to the place I purchased it to see if they had any advice. It could be related to the change in season, less humidity etc. 


It was suggested that I give retinol a one month break. It was also suggested that I use enzymes on days I don't use AHAs as they can help remove the flaking skin. I have a sample I tried tonight, then I moisturized with pure argan oil afterwards. 


This is the one I think I'll get:


So, the battle continues....



Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

My addiction to skincare all began a few years ago when I started using the skinceuticals 0.5 LOL! I started peeling an nothing I owned worked. So off to Sephora I went & I got a lot of Philosophy & Clinique products pushed on me. After a few months I wasn't impressed, so I started doing research & it all went down hill from there Smiley Tongue 


Fruit enzymes are great for removing dead cells without scrubbing your skin. I like to use the AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel. In the winter when I'm using retinol the most, I use it almost every morning. 

You still might not be moisturizing enough. Are you using just the argan oil, or are you mixing it with a moisturizer? If your regular moisturizer was working well before using retinol, it might not be hydrating enough now. I find I need to use a heavier moisturizer when using retinol. If I have time before bed, I'll sometimes apply a really thick layer, like a mask, and tissue off the remains after about a 1/2 hour. 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

Thanks dannyc! I was looking at AmorePacific as well, but I was lucky to get the Jurlique sample and it seems to work!


Ive been using oils on some nights, maracuja or argan, because I really need it. My moisturizers are already for dry to very dry skin, I didn't know what else to do besides go to oils but layering then blotting might be a good idea. Smiley Happy is it okay to mix the oil with a moisturizer? 


In any case I'm off the retinol for a bit, just to get my skin cleared up. But one positive is finding out about the enzymes, very cool!


Dannyc, do you also use AHAs at all? Just wondering how you cycle the retinol, acids and enzymes. Smiley Happy

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

I've been playing with retinol for a few years now. After my initial dryness scare, I tried it again by slowly introducing it to nightly use. It takes me about a month to get to nightly use & during this period I use the DDG A/B pads on off nights. Once I get to nightly, I'll use the A/B pads 3x-4x a week with the retinol over it. But I use the PTR that has some squalane in it to help moisturize. 

I also use a AHA/BHA cleanser a few times a week at night. It took me a while to figure out what my skin can & can't tolerate. 

I would definitely mix a few drops of oil into your moisturizer. OR... pat oil on your dry areas, let it sink in, then apply moisturizer. What moisturizer are you using? 

Re: Flaking Skin from Retinol

It's one that has worked very well until recently.


I haven't tried mixing the moisturizer with oil but I will! Smiley Happy


If you wouldn't mind sharing what that first month looks like as you acclimate I would love to know.

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