Post Procedure Skin Care Regimens

In order to recover comfortably, prevent damage to newly exposed skin, and maximize the benefits of a chemical peel treatment, individuals undergoing these treatments should be encouraged to follow a thorough regimen of post-treatment skin care. Immediately after a chemical peel, the skin is at its most vulnerable.

While the procedure non-surgically removes damaged layers of skin and increases cell turnover, the newly exposed skin cells are vulnerable to damage from sun exposure, dehydration, and irritation. Post-procedural patients can expect a range of uncomfortable symptoms following medium-depth chemical peels, such as:

  • Tightness and swelling - due to an inflammatory response
  • Drying - due to the removal of hardened, protective layers of keratin-rich dead skin cells
  • Redness or irritation at the site of the peel

These are temporary symptoms, but the use of supporting products and skin care regimens can both soothe subjective discomfort and protect the skin from exposure as it adapts. Depending on skin type, this post-treatment regimen will emphasize different aspects of skin care to encourage the smoothest possible experience. For patients with otherwise normal skin, the core emphasis will be on keeping the skin clean and moisturized.

Oily skin dictates a slightly greater emphasis on cleaning, as the skin's natural oils will easily trap contaminants and block newly-exposed pores. This is typical even without undergoing a chemical peel procedure, of course, but the vulnerability of newly exposed skin makes it even more critical. Individuals with naturally drier skin should focus more on keeping their skin moist and nourished after a chemical peel, as the natural barriers to moisture loss are initially compromised by the procedure.

Skin Care for Special Conditions

In some cases, individuals are especially encouraged to develop their post-procedural skin care regimen under the supervision of a dermatologist. People with inflammation-sensitive skin conditions, such as rosacea, should consult with their dermatologist before and after treatment to avoid triggering a flare up; while light chemical peels may benefit rosacea sufferers, procedures which provide adequate support for unaffected skin may be insufficient to their unique needs.

On the other hand, for some dermatological conditions, the aftercare period following a chemical peel presents an opportunity to accelerate treatment. Hyperpigmentation, whether due to inflammation, injury, or hormonal imbalance, is much easier to address after a chemical peel, as skin-lightening agents will penetrate far more effectively without the hardened outer layers of keratin-rich skin. This applies equally to individuals with age spots due to the body's natural concentration of – and progressive failure to regulate – melanocytes as the skin ages.

For aging skin, a chemical peel can restore elasticity and remove wrinkles by encouraging the production of collagen in the applied area. As our natural resistance to sun damage, inflammatory injury, and dehydration lessens with age, however, it is increasingly important to follow the prescribed regimen of skin care products and procedures with care.

Recommending a Skin Care Regimen

With consideration for skin type, age, and special conditions, dermatologists or skin care specialists will help develop a post-procedural skin care regimen. The right combination of skin care products can maximize the benefits or a chemical peel treatment while protecting the exposed skin from damage. Essentially, a basic post-treatment skin care regimen will seek to keep the skin moist, clean, and protected while the individual recovers. How these priorities are addressed, and in which balance, will vary based on skin type, age, and preexisting condition.

For individuals with normal skin, a light hydrating cleanser will be sufficient in most cases. Other skin types require more support and protection, such as aging skin. While chemical peels are an effective anti-aging treatment, they can also leave aging skin more vulnerable to sun damage. Skin care products such as Pharmco Lab’s Lipid Recovery Serum, an intense moisturizer, and an antioxidant cream, which restores the lipid barrier while supporting collagen production, will help ensure the greatest benefit from their chemical peel.

Acne-prone individuals will benefit from more aggressive cleansing products. This will help prevent the development of clogged, blocked pores and exploit easier access to the sebaceous glands. Supplementing their skin care regimen with a purifying cleanser will prove particularly effective. The best products in this line will simultaneously address the population balance of Propionibacterium acnes in and around sebaceous glands while controlling concentrations of sebum and excess keratin.

Similarly, a lightening treatment like our Fading Serum will deliver more pronounced results after a chemical peel, as it will be better able to penetrate the skin and interrupt melanin synthesis. Individuals with uniquely sensitive skin, or who require additional support in the post-procedural period, may opt for a more gentle hyperpigmentation treatment. Our Lighten and Brighten cream is hydroquinone-free and formulated to gently lighten the complexion while supporting healthy, clear skin.

In all cases, clients should take care to protect newly-exposed skin from the sun for at least two weeks before and after a chemical peel. A number of post-treatment supportive products exist with additional UV-blocking properties, such as our Day Protect SPF 22 anti-aging cream.

Additional Considerations

Regardless of post-treatment skin care, timing a chemical peel to avoid poor interaction with other dermatological procedures can have a marked effect on outcomes, recovery time, and overall effectiveness. A skilled skin care professional or dermatologist will take care to investigate an individual's previous treatments and plan accordingly, so as not to overwhelm the skin and complicate a healthy recovery from the chemical peel.

Hair removal treatments, no matter how noninvasive, do present the opportunity for injury to the skin and its underlying structure. While not always apparent, these procedures do stress the skin; performing a peel too quickly afterward can lead to surprising levels of inflammation and interfere with the full benefits of the treatment.

Electrolysis, chemical hair removal, depilatories, and waxing should be performed no more than one week before a chemical peel, and no sooner than one week afterward. This same window applies to threading, Botox, or fillers.

Intense Pulsed Light, while noninvasive, presents more of a complication to the chemical peel treatment and successful aftercare than chemical hair removal. Clients are advised to schedule their chemical peel procedure for no sooner than two to four weeks after undergoing IPL.

Non-ablative laser, ablative laser, or cosmetic facial surgery rule out chemical peel treatments until patient recovery is complete. At minimum, three to six months uninterrupted healing time is recommended. Clients who have recently undergone such procedures should consult with their dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon before scheduling a chemical peel.