Skin peeling is a weird phenomenon.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people ask questions such as “why does dead skin come off after I shower”. To be honest, I too have experienced situations where when I rub my skin it peels, or even when I rub my skin it rolls off in tiny particles.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the different reasons why your skin could be peeling along with suggestions on how to avoid the problem.

8 Reasons why your skin peels when rubbed

If your skin is rolling off when rubbed then there are several things you could be doing wrong both in your skincare routine and in your lifestyle in general.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

You take showers that are too long/hot

Rewarding yourself with a hot, steamy shower at the end of a busy day is without a doubt one of the small pleasures in life.

However, it’s not ideal for your skin.

Steamy showers can cause cell damage to your skin and can destroy its natural protective barrier. As a result, moisture will start to evaporate quickly from your skin, leading to dehydration and dry skin in the long run.

When your skin dries out and loses its natural moisture, you’ll end up with irritation and skin peeling.

One way to enjoy hot showers without compromising your skin is to ensure there is enough ventilation. You can open a door or a window to let the steam escape easily.

Alternatively, lower the water temperature to protect the health of your skin.

You’re over-exfoliating

Although exfoliating your skin is a must in your skincare routine, overdoing it can cause skin peeling.

Exfoliating your skin too much will remove the natural oils from the surface of your skin and will therefore reduce the moisture and hydration of the skin.

When stripped of its moisture, the skin becomes dry and can start peeling or rubbing off, especially when you use a towel to dry it.

To avoid this problem, keep a balanced exfoliation routine.

Check the exfoliating products you’re using to learn more about their ingredients. Based on the skin type that you have, check how often it’s recommended to use these ingredients.

Usually, the product instructions will include a recommendation on how often to use it.

People with oily skin are likely to be tempted to exfoliate more often to remove excess oil. However, consider this risk before starting to use your exfoliator more frequently.

You’re under exfoliating

At the same time, not exfoliating enough could also be a problem, especially as we age. The more we age, the slower our skin cell turnover becomes.

So it’s important to boost that natural epidermal desquamation with additional exfoliation.

The exfoliation process helps remove dead skin after showering and enables your skin to look healthier, brighter, and cleaner. And, of course, to not roll off in dirty particles.

Not exfoliating could mean that dead cells slowly accumulate on the surface of your epidermis. If your skin doesn’t get sufficient exfoliation, it will likely start rubbing off at one point or another.

To prevent peeling off caused by a lack of exfoliation, make sure that you exfoliate the skin at least once a week, using a gentle product appropriate for your skin type.

This will keep the skin free from dead cells and build-up and will allow it to breathe and balance its oil production.

For the body, your normal loofah will usually do the trick.

However, if you find that insufficient, you can introduce a body scrub or a peeling glove – these will help you to gently get rid of the dead skin cells. You can use one of them daily with no concerns.

As for the face, neck, and the décolleté area – opt for a light AHA serum such as The Ordinary Lactic Acid 2% but do limit its use to twice, up to three times a week. It’s a very mild and gentle chemical exfoliator for every skin type.

The products you use are too harsh

Not all cleansing products are created equal.

They can be divided according to skin type, but also vary in the ingredients in them.

There are plenty of chemicals in some cleansers that can be harsh on the skin and can lead to irritations and dehydration. For example, a lot of soaps are well-known for having high alkaline properties that are detrimental to our skin.

Using them on your face means that the pH level of the skin in that area will be disrupted, leading to dry skin and potential peeling.

Other ingredients that you should also check out are parabens, phthalates, SLS, formaldehyde, and triclosan, which are all associated with negative effects in some people.

It’s also recommended to stay away from butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and fragrance ingredients if you’re sensitive.

So what can you do instead?

Opt for washers that contain straightforward ingredients and have a simple formula. The more ingredients included, the higher the risk of some of them causing side effects on your skin.

If one of the side effects that you notice is dryness and irritation, the likelihood of skin peeling becomes higher.

You’re not using a moisturizer

Your moisturizer is the king of your skincare routine. It’s an especially important step after showering.


Because when you get out of the hot shower, your moisture concentration is higher than what’s in the air. As a result, the water evaporates from the skin faster, making you feel dry. As the skin instantly becomes dry, you can notice some rubbing off and peeling when you use your towel to dry out.

An easy solution is to simply use moisturizer.

Apply it to the skin after you shower and make it an active part of your skincare routine. There are daytime and nighttime moisturizers that you can choose based on your skin type.

By getting proper hydration, you can prevent peeling, but can also slow down aging, avoid fine lines, and maintain a healthy skin condition.

It’s because of a product that you’re using

I already mentioned that several aggressive chemicals can be found in your cleansers.

But that’s not all.

Most skincare products are created with at least several ingredients. It’s completely normal that a good portion of the products on the market won’t be suitable for your skin type or could simply cause side effects for your skin specifically.

For example, alcohol, fragrance ingredients, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol are all associated with increased skin dryness. If some of the products in your skincare regimen include them, it’s natural to see your skin peeling off.


Because they strip the skin of its natural moisture.

If you already have dry skin or have noticed that your skin has recently started drying out, it’s worth spending some time investigating your skincare products. Check the ingredients list to detect what the cause may be and substitute the irritating product with a more appropriate formulation or include an additional, hydrating step in the routine.

This will help you prevent skin from rubbing off.

You’re using a suboptimal moisturizer

There are also moisturizers out there, both for the face and body, that don’t soak into the skin completely and form a layer on top of the skin.
Overnight face masks and face packs are one of them, but there are many other examples.

This is why your skin can rub off after a moisturizer.

To solve that, simply change your face or body cream to a better formula.

For the body, I like the Cetaphil Soothing Gel-Cream with Aloe as it’s super lightweight, soaks in quickly, yet nourishes the skin and gives it everything it needs.

As for the face, finding a moisturizer is a whole other story and if you’re new to self-care, do refer to this article I’ve written about setting up a basic skincare regimen.

You’re suffering from a skin disorder

Lastly, if you don’t think that any of the above are relevant to your skin peeling condition, it could be a result of a peeling skin disorder.

Several known conditions trigger skin peeling: Exfoliative keratolysis, skin allergies or contact dermatitis, Peeling Skin Syndrome (PPS), and Psoriasis.

Even a banal sunburn is considered a serious skin condition, which results in the skin peeling off.

If you think that you may be suffering from a skin disorder, it’s best to see a dermatologist. A professional consultation will help you understand your situation better and will give you reliable guidance on how to solve the problem and restore the skin’s natural condition.

When I rub my skin it peels - reasons

The bottom line is that skin peeling is more common than you’ve probably imagined. The good news is that there are plenty of measures that you can take to stop the skin from rubbing off and say goodbye to the problem for good.

Have you suffered from skin peeling? I’d love to hear your stories and learn more about how you solved the case. Feel free to leave your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below.

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