So you just got a skin peel. Now you’re left with dry, inflamed, flaking skin—all perfectly common post-peel side effects. But now what?
Here are our tips for skin peel aftercare and managing the side effects without disrupting your skin’s natural healing process.
With a skin peel, the name says exactly what the skin is supposed to do—PEEL. Your beauty therapist applied a solution (some type of acid or enzyme) to your face. The purpose was to remove the top layers of the skin along with any discoloured cells within those layers. This process happens as the skin peels. While it’s not always ideal to walk around with flaky skin, you have to be very mindful not to interfere with the process. Let Mother Nature do her thing! Simply put, you have to accept the peeling and avoid doing anything to try and make it stop before its ready to. The goal is to keep the skin feeling calm and comfortable.
Not all chemical peels are equal; the suggestions we’re sharing in this blog are for light to light-medium peels.
In saying that, it’s worth mentioning that the tips below pretty much cover most intensive skin treatments including microdermabrasion, skin needling, hydrafacials, as well as electrolysis, IPL and even waxing!
Skin Peel Aftercare Dos:
Do treat your skin gently.
Be sure to use a very, very light touch when massaging any type of product onto your skin. No aggressive rubbing at all. Some of the flaking cells are still attached to live cells, and you don’t want to risk pulling anything off that isn’t ready.
Do be extra careful when the skin is wet.
Water softens dead skin, so it’s very easy to rub off both dead and live cells when the skin is moist. This means avoid using washcloths or sonic cleansing brushes after a skin peel. It’s too risky.
Do wear sunscreen after a skin peel.
Stating the obvious, but the skin is very vulnerable post-peel. UV light (even daylight on a cloudy day) is damaging your skin. New versions of titanium oxide sunscreens are very effective and don’t give you that lifeguard look of a stripe of chalk-white on your nose. Be lavish with your sunscreen use for at least a week following a skin peel. Really, though, you should use sunscreen everyday!
Do limit your time outdoors.
After a skin peel, you want to hibernate as much as possible to keep your skin protected. The last things you want to expose your skin to are heat and UV light. It’s already in an inflamed state, you don’t want to make it worse.
Do use products with soothing ingredients.
You want to provide as much comfort to the skin as possible to ease redness and inflammation. If the skin is really getting you down, we have our clients use a light weight gel recovery balm if they feel like their skin is too uncomfortable. We suggest keeping it in the refrigerator to provide an extra cooling experience.
After a skin peel, do keep your skincare routine simple and gentle.
If you’re wondering what to put on your face after a chemical peel, we recommend following in this order.
- Wash your skin with a gentle, sulphate-free cleanser. Mystiq iLuminating Cleanser is a great milk formula that won’t leave the skin stinging or feeling dry.
- Apply a natural skin brightener. Since skin peels can stimulate melanin activity, you don’t want to end up with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a condition in which you develop brown spots or patches post-peel. We recommend that our clients use an anti-inflammatory tyrosinase inhibitor since it works beautifully to calm melanin skin cells.
- Apply moisturiser (SPF included in mornings!). If it’s during the day, you’ll want a moisturiser with sunscreen. (Lira Clinical Solar Shields work wonders as they contain Zinc Oxide which is ideal as it will be more soothing to the skin.) In the evening, you’ll want to use a nourishing and harmonizing non-sunscreen moisturiser for your skin type. Our clients love the Mystiq iLuminating Beauty Oil as it rebalances, gives comfort and releases heat from the skin. Be sure to use a light touch when applying.
Use an antioxidant serum after 7 days. Since the skin has been traumatised (which is the intention), free radical production increases. You’ll want to suppress some of that free radical activity by using a gentle yet effective vitamin C serum. Many vitamin C serums use pure ascorbic acid as the main ingredient. As the name implies, this is an acid, which is the last thing you want to add to the skin straight after a peel. (Leave it for 7 days) Lira Clinicals Bio Hydra C Serum is highly recommended as not only does it contain the perfect vitamin C post peel but also certified organic aloe vera (extremely soothing and hydrating) and topical pro-biotics to restore the skins barrier function.
Skin Peel Aftercare Don’ts:
Don’t pick or pull at the flaky skin!
The whole purpose of a skin peel is to lift away surface dry, damaged cell layers and reveal younger-looking, healthy new cells. But to do this, the skin has to shed. That’s the part that people dislike the most. Picking off dry, flaky skin when it may not be ready to come off can result in scarring and unnecessary redness. You really have to leave it alone. Again, let Mother Nature her do her job.
Don’t use a washcloth, facial scrub or sonic cleansing brush.
As mentioned above, dead, flaky skin softens up when exposed to water. It can be very tempting to want to rub away that dryness with a washcloth, facial scrub or Clarisonic. Please don’t use any of these. Should any new cells come along with it (which they will!), you’ll wind up with scabs all over your face. This certainly defeats any benefits from getting the peel in the first place.
Don’t over-moisturize after a skin peel.
To compensate for post-peeling dryness, don’t over-moisturise. When the skin is peeling and flaky, it’s normal to want to continually apply a heavy moisturiser to comfort and alleviate dryness. While you DO want to keep the skin hydrated because it will aid healing, it’s important to know that the whole purpose of a chemical peel is to peel. The less rubbing, massaging and tugging on the skin you do, the better. Just use a comforting moisturiser and let the skin do what it wants to do—shed. If you are going out and want to camouflage some of the flakiness, mix a few drops of Lira Clinical iLuminating Beauty Oil in with your colour matched Lira Clinical BB Creme will help it be less noticeable.
Don’t exfoliate with scrubs, acids or enzymes.
It is so important to not remove the peeling skin before its time. You must let the skin shed naturally on its schedule, not on yours. Acids and enzymes, whether in a cleanser, toner, serum, mask or moisturiser, will only irritate the skin further and possibly sting. While I love exfoliation, you’ll want to get back to that two weeks after a peel to keep up the results, this is not the time.
Don’t eat highly acidic foods.
Just as you don’t want to apply topical acids to the skin, you also don’t want acidic foods getting on the skin. When things like tomato sauce, oranges and salsa touch the face, they can lower the pH of the skin to the point of causing serious irritation. When you have a peel, your skins barrier is in an altered state and since the mouth area is the place where you’ll see the most amount of peeling due to facial movements from talking and yawning, this area can be very reactive.
Don’t sweat too much after a skin peel.
Especially within the next 48hours of your treatment. When you sweat while working out, it can get sweat trapped underneath the cells that are going to come free leaving the skin with watery blisters. All will be good as long as you don’t pick or bust them! They will subside! The salt from sweating can cause a stinging sensation as well which may further the irritation.
Furthermore also avoid swimming in salt and chlorinated water, hot showers and steam rooms.
Don’t use any type of retinol or prescription retinoids.
These types of products work to stimulate cell turnover from deep. This is definitely great for the skin, but it’s what’s already occurring because of the peel. Like acids, you’ll want to use these once your skin heals, but not quite yet. Usually you can introduce these after 14 days.
So there you have it. Tips from our extensive experience to minimise post-peel downtime so you can get back to your regularly scheduled life—but with new, fresher-looking skin!