Rough, Flaky, Peeling Skin? Hide or Polish

Read about the Hide or Polish method to deal with those embarrassing flakes that appear as a result of strong acne treatments or just dry skin.

Flaky, peeling skin is noticed around the mouth, sides of the nose, between the eyebrows, and if you have been using strong exfoliants, on the cheeks as well. It can be fine flakes, looking like ash, or it can be long scales of skin, making the face look quite rough overall.

All this can seem like severely dry skin, but moisturizer isn’t the answer. Far from it.

Why the flakiness?

The same exfoliants that keep your skin’s pores clear and prevent acne can give the skin a rough, scaly appearance.

This happens when an exfoliant manages to loosen the cement between dead skin cells, but the skin cells fail to fall off the surface of the skin. They remain stuck on the face, making the whole face look dull, peeling, gray and dead.

To prevent flakiness, avoid using acne treatments on parts of the face where you don’t need them. Also use them less frequently, especially if you are seeing majorly dry, flaky skin all over the face. Sometimes flakiness cannot be avoided no matter how infrequently you use a product.

There are 2 ways to deal with flakiness and dullness depending on how much time you have on hand.


This is a quick-fix to deal with peeling skin. The idea is to sort of stick it back and smooth it out. It happens that when you are in a rush to get out the door, you notice flakes around the mouth or elsewhere on the face. That is not a time for patient measures. You need a quick solution.

Aloe vera gel is not enough to stick back skin flakes. It is too lightweight for that. You need a heavy-duty solution.

Cetaphil cleansing lotion acne pimplesProduct:

Cetaphil Cleansing Lotion for Sensitive Skin (yes, the cleanser) can be used for this purpose. But only in small areas of the face. Used over large areas, it can make the face look shiny and dull. Cetaphil Cleansing Lotion for Sensitive Skin is safe to be left on the skin, you do not need to wash it off.

How to use:

Take the tiniest amount of the product on the tip of your finger and dab, dab, dab on the peeling skin. That will stick back the flakes and smooth out the skin for a good few hours. It takes less than 1 minute to do this.


As much as you can take shortcuts, flaky skin is dead skin. You cannot keep sticking it back. It has to come off sometime. That is the only real solution.

The way to take it off is by sloughing it off, or scrubbing. Many readers are going to shudder at the thought of scrubbing acne prone skin. Hear me out.

A mild scrub with rounded beads (not sharp, haphazard walnut granules) used gently on the skin can polish it, dislodging any hanging flakes and dead skin.

The idea is to not apply any pressure but just glide the scrub over the skin, focusing on areas around the mouth, sides of the nose, between the eyebrows and wherever else you notice rough skin.

Removing dead skin will ensure that your moisturiser works better. Just about any product you put on after that will work better. Once the white ash is removed from the face, your sunscreen will leave less of a white cast, too.

nivea aqua effect scrub for oily acne prone skinProduct:

Nivea Aqua Effect Skin Refining Scrub is one of those rare non-comedogenic scrubs in India. It used to be available as Nivea Visage Skin Refining Scrub in a flat bottle, but the Visage version is becoming harder and harder to find.

The new Aqua Effect contains the same non-comedogenic formula as the old Visage one. You should look for “NEW” on the tube and this ingredient list:

Water, Nylon 11, Polyethylene, Glycerin, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl Glucoside, Lactose (Milk), Cellulose, Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Ultramarines

How to use:

Take a coin-size amount in your hand and massage it gently on wet face. Avoid going over any active pimples. Focus on rough, scaly areas. Use this method once or twice a week, as needed.

For some people, any kind of scrubbing, however gentle even with a non-comedogenic scrub can cause irritation, redness and other bad things. So scrubbing will not work out for everyone. I use this method myself but my skin is not sensitive in that way.

You will need to follow it up with a moisturizer. Neutrogena Oil-free Moisture for Combination Skin is an acne-safe option.

A face brush is another option for removing flaky skin. That is for another post, another day.

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