Why Do I Have Flaky Skin After Washing My Face?
If you’re dreading the winter season, you probably are experiencing a dry skin mood. When your skin is sucked dry of all its moisture, we can experience flaky skin, itchy dry patches, or even cracked skin. However, sometimes flaky skin can come from the places you least expect it, like our cleansers. If you need tips on how to stop your natural moisture barrier from going dry while avoiding that darned flaky skin – you’ve come to the right place.
Why do I have flaky skin after washing my face?
I know it’s hard to believe, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. In this case, it’s cleansing. Before you start booing – hear me out.
Our entire lives, we’ve been told that one of the most important things we can do for our skin is to wash our face (with a gentle cleanser). That’s why there’s such a huge emphasis on cleansing. It gets rid of dirt, oil, and any excess makeup that was left behind that could otherwise clog our pores and cause us to breakout.
However, over-washing your face is a big no-no. In fact, over-washing your face can have consequences that are just as bad as not cleansing enough. And, as you might’ve guessed, flaky skin is one of those consequences.
Finding a cleansing ritual that works for your skin mood
Here, we believe in saying “skin mood” instead of “skin type” because skincare should be about meeting your skin where it’s at. You should treat your skincare cabinet as a toolbox and reach for what you need when you need it. For example, when your skin is in a dry mood, it’s important to evaluate if your skin is dry or dehydrated because the difference is really important!
In this case, if your skin appears flaky, it’s possible that you’re overwashing your face by using a cleanser that’s too harsh for your skin. This is super common, especially with cleansers that are specially made with acne in mind.
While there are different opinions about cleansing swirling around the beauty community (a.k.a. some say to not cleanse in the morning), we believe that washing your face after you wake up is a must. If you do, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overdo it. If you over-wash/over-cleanse your face, you’ll strip the healthy sebum from your skin. That means you’ll be stuck with a tight, dry skin mood and possibly flaky skin.
What to be aware of in your face wash/skincare products
So, over-washing isn’t all about how often you’re washing your face, but it’s about which cleanser you use. Drying products tend to make our skin overcompensate by producing more oils, but the skin’s oil levels and moisture levels are two different things (1).
Remember what we said about skin being dry versus dehydrated? Yup, this means that even oily skin moods can lack hydration and be dry.
If you’re experiencing flaky skin, you should ditch any and every product that will strip your skin of its natural moisture. That means saying bye-bye to all of those products in your cabinet that contain harsh ingredients like:
Oh, and I can’t forget soap-based cleansers – they are not your friend. In general, you should be using a gentle cleanser in the morning, like a cream-based, milky cleanser that is great for a dry skin mood. This will help you rebuild your damaged skin barrier while you remove dirt, oil, and makeup buildup from the skin’s surface. Before bed, try out a gentle cleanser that still gives your pores a deep clean.
Moisturizers or serums to use after cleansing
Did you know that your skin’s temperature rises overnight? Not only that, but it leads to trans-epidermal water loss. Essentially, the water in our skin is evaporating. I know – WTF, right? Since this causes dehydration at a faster rate, it’s super super important to properly moisturize. Besides using a calming and hydrating cleanser, using a cooling moisturizer, mist, or serum can soothe a dry skin mood.
Other skincare ingredients that are great for hydration: are
- hyaluronic acid
- and peptides.
Hyaluronic acid in particular is one of my fave ingredients in hydrating serums because it can retain close to 1000 times its weight in water. It’s a STAR ingredient in serums and lotions because it targets fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity on top of targeting dryness.
To make sure you’re avoiding inflammation, you can also look to glycerin and ceramides. Glycerin is a nice option for anyone who has sensitive skin and needs a product to help leave their skin feeling soft and nourished. Similarly, ceramides help us maintain a strong skin barrier by hydrating the skin and keeping it supple.
Even though flaky skin can make you think it’s time to break out an exfoliator – quit while you’re ahead. Using an exfoliator, like physical exfoliators, can just end up being painful and further harm your skin barrier. Unfortunately for us, a majority of products on the market are way too abrasive and can create micro-tears that can become infected or aggravate your dry skin mood. If you really feel the need to get rid of the flaky skin, opt for an enzymatic exfoliator that will gently remove it. Or, you can try using oats as a soothing scrub. They’re one of the best anti-inflammatory ingredients out there (hello, all of us with sensitive skin) that isn’t abrasive or harsh on the skin.
While cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser is a great first step in dealing with a dry skin mood, you want to make sure you’re not over-washing and stripping your skin of its natural sebum. A loss of moisture can make your skin angry, so ~lock in~ that moisture with a hydrating moisturizer or serum in your daily skin ritual. Look for ceramides, humectants like glycerin, or non-clogging oils like avocado or almond. You got this!
Written by Selena Ponton