How to Wear Makeup When Your Skin Is Peeling From Retinol

October 01, 2020
By: Marisa Petrarca | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
Beauty Q&A: My Skin Is Peeling from Retinol — What Makeup Can I Use?

Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is our go-to skin-care ingredient for reducing fine lines, evening out skin texture and speeding up cell turnover. As much as we love the anti-aging ingredient, however, it can cause dryness and skin peeling that make it difficult to apply makeup. To learn how to treat and prevent the side effects, plus how to safely wear makeup when you’re experiencing it, follow the tips below from NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner


TIP 1: Prep Your Skin With Moisturizer

“Before applying makeup, make sure to apply moisturizer to hydrate and protect your skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge to pull in hydration to the skin and can bind to 1000 times its weight in water to hydrate and plump.” He also suggests that instead of apply heavy makeup, opt for a tinted moisturizer when your skin is acting up. For a product that offers coverage and hydration, we like the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

TIP 2: Skip the Exfoliator

While exfoliating should be a regular part of your routine, it’s best to avoid exfoliating products when your skin is acclimating to retinol. “Exfoliating can cause more harm than good, leading to irritation and inflammation,” says Dr. Zeichner. “ Also stay away from makeup that contains botanicals, acids or other ingredients that can cause irritation of the skin.”

TIP 3: Consider Skipping Makeup

“If your skin is inflamed from retinol, my best recommendation is to apply a bland moisturizer and skip makeup for the day if possible. You are better off letting your skin calm down so you can resume your normal makeup routine in the future,” says Dr. Zeichner. In need of a non-irritating moisturizer? We love the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.

TIP 4: Do Not Apply Product on Open Skin

If peeling has caused the skin to feel raw, it’s best to hold off on the makeup because not only will it irritate the skin, but it’ll likely cause even more inflammation when you remove the product before bed. “Remember that applying makeup is the first part of the story,” says Dr. Zeichner. “You need to remove it in a way that doesn’t cause inflammation to the skin.” 

Want to Try Retinol? Here Are Some of Our Favorite Formulas That Contain It 


Photo: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Design: Hannah Packer

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