Unfortunately, tretinoin skin peeling isn't one of those internet rumors you hear about all the time. It's real, but it also happens for good reason. During the first few weeks of tretinoin application, it’s normal and extremely common for your skin to take on a slightly dry, flaky texture and for small amounts of skin to peel off from your face.
Tretinoin skin peeling occurs for a variety of reasons. First, tretinoin is an exfoliator. When you apply tretinoin gel or cream to your face, your body speeds up the rate at which it replaces old skin with new skin, shedding the old layer of skin in the process.
Second, tretinoin can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, making it more likely that your facial skin could become sunburned and peel off naturally after sun exposure.
Below, we’ve covered the key facts about skin peeling to help you more effectively deal with one of the more troublesome tretinoin side effects of topical tretinoin for acne or anti-aging.
Tretinoin side effects are varited, but skin peeling is one that many tretinoin users have had to deal with. It usually happens in the first two to six weeks of using tretinoin—a period that many users refer to as a “purge” or adjustment period.
Skin peeling occurs because tretinoin speeds up the speed at which your body sheds old skin cells, via a process called “cell turnover.” As new skin cells replace old ones, your body sheds the old skin. This can give your facial skin a flaky, dry and crusty appearance for the first few weeks or months of use.
Some people experience severe peeling when they begin using tretinoin, with large flakes of dead skin that can be peeled off the face. If it sounds a little grim, it's because it kind of is.
But it's important to keep in mind that skin peeling is a normal effect of tretinoin treatment and not something to be overly alarmed about. Normally, skin peeling stops after two to six weeks of treatment as your body replaces the old skin with new, fresh skin cells, and as your skin becomes acclimated to the treatment.
Dealing with tretinoin skin peeling can be tough. After all, few things are worse than using tretinoin cream or gel to improve your skin quality, only to deal with what can be several months of dry, uncomfortable peeling skin.
Luckily, there are several ways to deal with tretinoin skin peeling:
Whether you use tretinoin for acne prevention or anti-aging, it’s important to know how tretinoin works if you plan on using it for the long term. Our Tretinoin 101 guide covers everything there is to know about the medication, from its origins to studies showing its effectiveness, to how to to apply it effectively while doing as little damage to your skin as possible.
And remember: It's important to think of tretinoin as a longterm treatment. This stuff really does work, and we think it's one of the best acne and anti-aging creams you can use. However, it's also not a bandaid on a bullet hole, or a quick fix for everyday acne. Good results take time, and you will get good results. Just be patient.