Updated: Mar 3
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Should any products be used after a chemical peel?
The only two products you should use on your skin immediately following a chemical peel are sunscreen and moisturizer. Chemical Peels make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you want to have these done in the Fall and Winter months when there is less exposure to the sun.
EltaMD SPF 46 Sunscreen is the sunscreen I often recommend after receiving a chemical peel treatment. This sunscreen is effective and gentle so it shouldn’t irritate your delicate post-peel skin. I recommend staying out of the sun and elements for about a week just to be on the safe side. Wearing sunscreen is a must all the time year-round, but especially when you’ve just had a chemical peel (pro-tip: another good sunscreen for after a chemical peel is La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Cooling Water – this is a nice one because it won’t burn when it goes on your sensitive post-peel treatment skin).
How can I prep my skin for a Chemical Peel?
Since the weather is getting colder you’ve probably already switched to a heavier moisturizer. When the chilly seasons start up our skin starts to feel dehydrated; your skin adjusting to the heating in buildings doesn’t help either. For moisturizers I recommend finding one with hyaluronic acid, as this restores moisture to the skin, and if you’re not already using products with this amazing humectant then you need to start now – head on over to my products page to see about hooking yourself up with some of my favorites. One hyaluronic acid molecule can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, and this stuff has an incredible moisturizing effect that is long-lasting. Naturally, moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid are going to be great for after your chemical peel treatments too. NEOCUTIS Hyalis Hydrating Serum contains hyaluronic acid and is a great one to soothe your skin after a chemical peel.
When prepping for a chemical peel, I take a close look at skin type and what the desired outcomes are for the short- and long-term care of my clients. This preparation process helps me to make specific recommendations for before and aftercare, and also dictates what type of chemicals will be used in the peel treatment, and how intense it needs to be.
Typically, I see people that are looking for ways to improve the look of fine lines, or brown spots on their skin, skin texture concerns are often also addressed with chemical peel treatments. The pre-peel products I generally recommend in these situations are prescription-only and include a 6-week course of hydroquinone (4%) and retinoic acid (.05- 0.1%). The retinoic acid is discontinued one week prior to the chemical peel for optimal results.
Here are some of my favorite products specific to the before and after care processes for your skin when preparing for a chemical peel. This list includes retinol-based products for the before-care process that do not require a prescription. These are recommended if you are doing a light chemical peel or using chemical peel based over-the-counter products at home.
Before Care Products
This product works wonders for evening skin tone and dealing with discolouration in the skin. It contains specialized high potency retinol and ascorbic acid-2 glucoside: this removes the appearance of existing pigmentation and supports natural cell turnover; as a result, the skin is rapidly brightened and skin tone is improved.
This is usually sold at dermatology clinics and also in some specialized skincare stores and centres. As the name suggests, you use this product at night and let it work its magic while you sleep. It has an active 1% microencapsulated pure Retinol formula; this along with a powerful bioactive peptide and antioxidant Vitamin C helps to accelerate skin renewal, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, uneven skin tone and discoloration. The Squalene ingredient sourced from Brazilian Sugar Cane restores the skin’s moisture and suppleness while active polysaccharides hydrate and prevent water loss to help soften fine lines. It even contains a soothing licorice extract and customizable Buffer Cream that reduces the risk of flaking or irritation as your skin acclimates to Retinol, making this a perfect pre-peel product.
This one was a previous winner of the Dermascope Magazine’s Aestheticians’ Choice Awards
This is a milder pre-peel product that can be used more frequently in your prep for a chemical peel (2-7 times/week depending on other products you are also using in your skincare routine). This mild exfoliant contains Retinol as well as Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid, so it is also recommended for those with acne-prone skin.
After Care Products
This product does wonders for flaking skin and helps speed the healing process after chemical peels and laser treatments. EltaMD AM Therapy smoothens the skin’s texture and evens out skin color and tone. This intense moisturizer also has my favorite ingredient - hyaluronic acid.
This product is amazing because it stimulates the skin’s natural water system to moisturize without oil or heavy emollients. EltaMD AM Therapy is oil-free, fragrance-free, and noncomedogenic. This can also be used overnight for extra moisture replenishment, especially after a chemical peel. EltaMD Intense Maftercareoisturizer has an emollient feel to it and is also nice for after care. A little goes a long way with these products so don’t use too much at once.
If you’d rather use an ointment-based product rather than one more similar to a lotion following your chemical treatment, Aquaphor Healing Ointment is one of the best for restoring your skin back to feeling smooth and healthy. This product is different from a lotion or cream; it’s a multi-purpose ointment that protects and soothes skin when it is in an extremely dry state. Another great remedy for your skin following a chemical peel and this stuff is also fantastic for chapped lips, cracked skin on your hands and feet and many other types of skin irritations. It can even be used to treat minor cuts and wounds due to its healing effect on the skin. Another benefit of this product is its sting-free nature, as after a chemical peel your skin will feel very sensitive especially in the first few days following treatment.
My other favorite post chemical peel ointment is the Emuaid First Aid Ointment, which repairs and relieves inflammation that occurs for a brief period following a chemical peel. Medical grade homeopathic EMUAID® is a uniquely engineered antibacterial, anti-fungal ointment that quickly reduces any pain, inflam,mation and symptoms for 100+ difficult-to-treat skin conditions. The Emuaid oil works effectively on sunburns, razor burn and first-degree burns too since its unique properties help relieve pain and reduce blistering. One of its key ingredients is Allantoin, derived from comfrey plants, which promotes healing and moisturizes the skin to improve smoothness and tone.
When it comes to before and after care for your skin, it is important to speak with your dermatologist about the right regiment for your skincare routine in the days before and after going for a chemical peel. Chemical peels vary in strength, so working with a dermatologist is key to considering the strength you need to achieve your desired outcomes. To learn more about the different types check out my article Chemical Peels, Do’s and Don’ts.
Light, medium and deep peels have very different treatment purposes and different recovery times; naturally the before and after-care products will also vary depending on your skin type and results you’re seeking. At Idaho Skin Institute, we do all three types of chemical peels (light, medium and deep). Chemical peels are a great way to deeply renew and rejuvenate your skin, and it’s important to make sure they are performed with the highest standards of care, patience and caution to achieve the very best results.
Products featured in this article include:
Altreno - Retinoic Acid 0.5%: Retinoic Acid Is a RX product and can only be obtained through a licensed practitioner