What Is "Orange Peel Skin" — & How Can You Get Rid Of It?

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
When describing skin that is good, people generally resort to the same set of expressions: "as smooth as silk" (glass works, too), "lit from within," or "softer than a baby's bottom," which is a questionable basis of comparison but a thing we say nonetheless. So you can see why skin that's "like an orange peel" doesn't quite fit in there — and why the internet is riddled with complaints about the one and only skin concern to be named after a citrus fruit.
Unsurprisingly, there is no legitimate dermatological condition classified as "orange peel skin." Rather, it's a colloquial term used to describe skin with pores so enlarged as to appear dimpled in texture — you know, like an orange peel. And, like your health, your short-term memory, and your tolerance for loud noises, it tends to worsen as you get older.
But while you can't evade the inevitable ageing process, you can not only fend off an orange-spiked fate, but repair much of the damage in the unfortunate event that it's already been done. First, the cause (as in, why the hell does it happen in the first place?): "A combination of dehydration and slow cell reproduction contribute to this look on the nose and cheeks," explains dermatologist Kenneth Mark, MD. "The cells build up around the pores, enhancing the shadows and making them appear larger." The dehydration also makes skin appear rough and shiny, almost cellophane-like, which enhances the uneven texture.... and a lack of proper exfoliation can leave pores enlarged and clogged.
What's an orange peel-skinned person to do? Dr. Mark has a few ideas. Gentle over-the-counter facial peels applied at home can be helpful, as can medical-grade chemical peels performed in-office. Products containing hyaluronic acid, to help plump skin cells and reduce dehydration, plus retinol for healthy skin regeneration is the golden combo. (We like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare's Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer.) So keep oranges where they belong: in the fruit bowl... and in your bottomless mimosas.

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