How To Treat Sensitive, Peeling Skin

I love experimenting with my skincare products. Ever since my teens, I have always liked to try out different products and that really annoyed my mom because she felt I would end up spoiling my skin. Trying out new products is nothing less than experimenting on your skin and so, she was right, because the wrong products, or rather the wrong ingredients in the products, could harm the skin more than help it.While most of these “skincare experiments” have paid off beautifully, there have been some that have rubbed my skin the wrong way (pun intended), leaving me with the worse case of acne I ever had or, as it happened again recently, sensitive, peeling skin which is red and burns. Yup. Not a pretty sight. And since I am going through this right now, I thought, why not write a post on it because I’m sure there would be loads of girls facing similar symptoms and this would help them.

The skin around my mouth has always been the most delicate part of my face, prone to dryness even in Mumbai’s mild winters. Now, because of the sensitivity, the corners of my mouth and upper and lower lip are rough and flaky and red. Read on to know how I’m dealing with it.

Disclaimer – I am not a doctor. These tips are based solely on my experience with sensitive/sensitised skin. If the condition persists or becomes worse, please consult a dermatologist immediately.

There are several ways in which skin can get sensitised. Rosacea and eczema are also kinds of sensitised skins. However, here I’m talking about skin that has become sensitised due to some kind of product or treatment. This could be a reaction to an ingredient in the product or some treatment like microdermabrasion or a chemical peel.


  • The skin’s texture becomes thin and gets a slightly translucent appearance.
  • It could also appear red or looks like rash and become rough or scaly to touch.
  • You get a burning sensation when you touch the sensitised skin. Even water causes a stinging/tingling kind of sensation.
  • Extreme dryness and peeling of the skin.

How to Treat Sensitive, Peeling Skin

The most important thing is to try and identify what has caused the sensitivity. In my case, my skin starts showing these symptoms when I over do exfoliation (even if it is with an exfoliating toner) or when I combine / layer certain products. Each person is different but my recent issue of sensitive skin is because I combined one exfoliating toner with a vitamin C serum. The minute I stopped using the toner, my skin started calming down. Of course the dryness and peeling takes time to go away. So, here’s what you can do:

  • Cleanse gently – Any dirt, grime, product left over on the skin will only make things worse. Using a gentle cleansing balm or oil (Banila Co Clean It Zero for example), gently remove all traces of dirt, makeup and sunscreen from the face. Check that there are no essential oils in the cleanser because those could irritate the skin.  I would recommend you avoid double cleansing as well when the skin is under the weather since that would just make it drier.
  • Use a soothing mist/spray – There are several mists available, like the Vichy Eau Thermale, which soothe the skin and help in keeping it moisturised. Most of them are enriched with minerals, some are also infused with flower waters or herbs which helps in calming down the skin. Again, avoid those with essential oils which might cause more tingling.
  • Apply a Serum – This is the time when the skin needs a lot of TLC (tender, loving care) as well as intense hydration. A serum for dry skin can help deliver the moisture to a deeper level than just a moisturiser. However, AHAs or retinols that are found in some anti-aging serums need to be avoided because those increase the peeling of the skin.
  • Moisturise – While you can stick to your normal moisturiser for the rest of the face, the sensitised areas with dry, peeling skin need a rich, emollient  one. You can use a thick, balm-like moisturiser that is meant for extremely dry skin like the Mary Kay one or even use pure shea butter like the L’Occitane 100% Pure Shea Butter. Another good option is to use a rich eye cream. Those are meant for the delicate undereye area and hence will not aggravate the sensitivity. Don’t use a brightening eye cream, use a rich one like the Shiseido Benefiance eye cream.
  • Use a Face Mask – No, not those clay based ones, but ones that contain hyaluronic acid to seal in the moisture like the Thalgo Hyaluronic Mask. You could also use a sheet mask, most of which are moisturising. I recently bought the Innisfree Blackberry sheetmasks from beautynetkorea and it is the most moisturising sheet mask I have used till date, including all those that I got from the Memebox. This mask is so good and instantly soothes and moisturises the dry, sensitive skin.
  • Don’t skip the Sunscreen – Sensitive, peeling skin is more susceptible to sun damage so it is essential to protect it from the sun. Along with high SPF, the sunscreen must also be gentle on the skin. Right now, I am using the Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 50 (shall review it soon) which is a thick, creamy sunscreen but with a matte finish. And it doesn’t cause a burning/tingling sensation either.

While you follow all these steps, do remember that the skin IS going to peel and that you will have to re-apply the moisturiser multiple times a day. DO NOT exfoliate the peeling skin or rub it harshly to get rid of the flakes. It will make the problem worse. What I do is, I use a damp cotton ball and gentle dab on the dry skin to remove the flakes and then I re-apply the moisturiser. I don’t even use the Korean peeling gel which is super gentle. I carry the L’Occitane Shea Butter everywhere (it’s a tiny little tin) and the minute I see flaking or I feel my skin getting tight and dry, I reapply it.  The redness has now gone and so has the burning sensation but the flaking and dryness is still there. I guess it should be totally fine in another couple of days.

This has been quite a long post but I do hope that it is helpful for some of you.  Do let me know in the comments 🙂

2 Replies to “How To Treat Sensitive, Peeling Skin”

  1. Balneet Kaur says: Reply

    I have used neutrogena cleanser two times only and it leaded to a burning sensation on my cheeks,chin and redness. Thereby i consulted a skin its fine bt it caused dryness. I have stopped using d minute i felt burns.i have neutrogena serum also.pls tell me should i use dat serum or suggest any serum which is good for dis skin type.pls?

  2. Great tips dollie. I experience dryness around the chin and corner of the lips. I m sure to try these tips 🙂

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