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Gestes à avoir sur peau qui pèle après bonzage.

Skin peeling after a tanning session: what steps should be taken?

It's not uncommon for the skin to peel after a tanning session. This phenomenon indicates a disruption in cellular renewal due to severe skin dehydration. Between the desire to remove flakes and feelings of itchiness, peeling skin is not comfortable. Here are some steps to take to soothe it.


Why does skin peel after tanning?

The desquamation is a natural skin regeneration phenomenon that typically occurs every 28 days. It involves the skin shedding dead cells (corneocytes) from its surface and letting them fall off in the form of scales. This process occurs on all areas of the skin and is invisible to the naked eye. However, it is not uncommon to observe an excessive desquamation after a tanning session. This is a defense and skin reconstruction process, which occurs when the skin's hydration has been significantly disrupted after sun exposure.

Indeed, UV rays can damage the hydrolipidic film of the epidermis. This film is primarily composed of sebum and sweat, forming a protective barrier on the skin's surface, which helps maintain its hydration and protect it from external aggressions. However, when UV rays penetrate the skin, they generate free radicals in the cells, damaging them through various oxidative processes. This also affects the cells of the sebaceous glands, which produce sebum, thereby weakening the hydrolipidic film.

Free radicals can also attack the lipids of the stratum corneum by oxidizing the unsaturated fatty acids that make them up, as the double bond of this type of molecules is a vulnerable site to oxidation. This leads to the formation of lipid peroxides, unstable compounds causing additional damage to the skin. The integrity of the stratum corneum is then compromised and the lipids lose fluidity, which increases skin permeability and water loss.

Step No. 1: Hydrate and nourish your skin.

The first step to take when dealing with peeling skin is to hydrate it intensely. Applying a cream daily that contains humectants and emollients will help the skin rebuild its hydrolipidic film and reduce insensible water loss. You can also turn to nourishing treatments, which work at the level of the horny layer to promote the relipidation of the epidermis. Shea butter or avocado oil are excellent ingredient choices for this, and will also help alleviate feelings of dryness and skin tightness.

At Typology, we offer several moisturizing treatments for the face, such as our 9-ingredient moisturizing cream, and for the body, like our 10-ingredient cream. These minimalist formulas respect all skin types, even the most sensitive ones. You will also find several nourishing creams for the face and body, rich in shea butter (INCI: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter) , providing softness and comfort to the skin.

Step No. 2: Drink plenty of water.

When one's skin is peeling, it is important to drink enough water each day to help the skin rehydrate and promote its regeneration. This will also compensate for the water loss suffered due to sun exposure. It is generally recommended to drink 1 L to 1.5 L of water per day.

Step No. 3: Avoid exposure in the following days.

If your skin is peeling following a tanning session, allow it to regenerate in the following days and avoid exposing yourself to the sun. It is recommended to favor long-sleeved shirts, lightweight long pants, and wearing a hat. Also, don't forget to apply a broad-spectrum sun care product. Far from being harmful to peeling skin, it will help protect it and prevent it from flaking further.

Step No. 4: Apply cold compresses.

Applying cold compresses can be a solution if you experience sensations of heat or itching following a tanning session. The cold has a calming effect on the skin and reduces irritations. However, do not apply the compress directly to peeling skin. Instead, wrap it in a clean cloth beforehand, this will be more pleasant and less aggressive for the skin.

Step No. 5: Moderate the temperature of your shower.

When one's skin is peeling following a tanning session, it is advised not to take a shower that is too hot. Indeed, choosing a high water temperature is harsh on the skin's hydrolipidic film. This could potentially dry out the skin even more and exacerbate peeling issues.

Step No. 6: Resist the urge to peel off dead skin.

Peeling skin often tempts one to manually remove the dead skin. However, it is better to refrain from doing so, as this could lead to a red and irritated skin that will take longer to heal. The small scales present on the surface of the epidermis will fall off on their own in a few days, revealing new and healthy skin.

Step No. 7: Avoid Exfoliations.

It is often recommended to exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to promote its natural regeneration. However, if you have peeling skin, take a short break from this routine. Scrubbing peeling skin would indeed be irritating and could cause it to turn red. Far from allowing a gentle removal of scales, this type of treatment would leave the skin raw.


  • RICHTER K. & al. Oxidative stress in aging human skin. Biomolecules (2015).

  • TFAYLI A. & al. Studying the effects of suberythemal UV doses on human stratum corneum by in vivo confocal Raman spectroscopy. European Journal of Dermatology (2022).


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