Chemical peels are one of our favorite treatments to address a variety of skin concerns at once. From dullness to texture to acne, a chemical peel leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth and refreshed.
There are a few side effects that you can expect to see (especially in the first few days after your treatment).
Knowing the dos and don’ts of chemical peel aftercare can help minimize the risk of these side effects and maximize your results — and the pros at Skin Pharm are here to show you how.
How does a chemical peel work?
Let’s start by discussing what a chemical peel is and how it works.
A chemical peel is a super-powered form of exfoliation that only skin care professionals can perform in a clinic setting. It involves using many of the same ingredients found in skin care products (like salicylic acid) at higher percentages than you can purchase over the counter.
There are also light and deep-depth peels. Don’t worry, though — even though these exfoliating ingredients might be in higher percentages, patients typically experience minimal discomfort.
These chemicals are applied directly to the skin at a depth that you’ll decide on with your skin care provider. For example, medium-depth peels specifically target the epidermis and papillary dermis, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and scarring.
It takes about a week after the chemical peel to start seeing results, which can be permanent, provided you follow it up with an effective, supportive skin care routine.
Chemical peels are often used to address the following skin concerns:
Fine lines and wrinkles
Uneven skin tone
Before you go to your chemical peel appointment, ask your provider if they have any recommendations on how to minimize side effects. Certain medications can increase the likelihood of redness and irritation, and you may be asked to discontinue them before you go in.
Chemical peel aftercare: dos and dont’s
So, you had your chemical peel — what now? Let’s talk about chemical peel aftercare so you know what to expect from the moment you walk out the door.
DO expect some redness
You should expect at least some redness, irritation or sensitivity after your chemical peel. For most people, these symptoms can last up to a few days. Schedule your appointment at least a week or two out from any major events to make sure that your skin has plenty of time to recover.
DON’T spend time outdoors without sunscreen
Sunscreen is the most important part of any skin care routine, whether or not you’ve recently had a skin care treatment. However, after a chemical peel, your skin will be especially vulnerable. You should protect it with quality sunscreen that meets FDA guidelines and recommendations and avoid spending extended time in the sun.
DO avoid touching your skin as much as possible
Even if you washed your hands constantly, you’d still have at least some bacteria on them. When your skin’s natural ability to protect itself is somewhat affected, it’s essential to avoid touching your skin as much as possible after a chemical peel.
DON’T hit the gym
We know your gym routine is important to you, but if there’s ever a time to take a few rest days, it’s right after a chemical peel. Your skin will be working hard to heal and turn itself over, and sweating not only irritates the skin further but can also increase the odds of clogging and blemishes.
DO expect peeling
It’s called a chemical “peel,” after all. When planning for your chemical peel aftercare, expect the peeling to really start about one to three days after your appointment. This reaction — which is a sign that your chemical peel is working — will likely last about five days.
DON’T ignore your provider’s advice
Although chemical peels are a fairly standard skin care treatment, everyone’s skin is different. That means your skin care provider will likely give you personalized advice about how best to care for your skin after your appointment. Make sure you follow your provider’s instructions as closely as possible.
DO use lukewarm water when you wash your face
We always recommend that people avoid using hot water when cleansing their skin — it can dry out the skin and cause the moisture barrier to break down. After you’ve had a chemical peel, it’s even more important that you use lukewarm water, as your skin will be even more sensitive than usual.
DON’T wear makeup
As your skin starts to peel, your first thought might be to cover it up with a high-coverage foundation. As tempting as that may be, you’ll want to fight that urge — putting makeup on can actually slow down or even totally impede the healing process. Your skin needs space to breathe, so anything (other than moisturizer or mineral SPF) that you put on your face has the potential to clog your pores.
The bottom line…
Every treatment has its own potential side effects, but there are always ways for you to proactively address them. Chemical peel aftercare is crucial to help you make the most of your treatment, heal quicker and get the best possible results.
Following your skin care provider’s guidelines and knowing what to expect can help you prepare and properly care for your skin post-treatment. Confidence in your skin starts here – book a treatment with one of our advanced practice providers to get started.
Clinical role and application of superficial chemical peels in today's practice | PubMed