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While everybody’s skin is different, we all have commonalities when it comes to our aftercare. This is especially true when it comes to the days following a chemical peel. For some, peeling may take anywhere from 7-10 days on average or longer depending on internal and external factors such as skin type, age, weather, lifestyle,and hormones. During this period, there are best practices that you can follow to ensure you’re getting the best results, as well as optimize your comfort. Your skin is our largest organ, so it’s always in your best interest to protect yourself from anything that might damage your skin.
If you’re all about exfoliating, you’re going to have to pump the breaks on the loofah and washcloths for up to 2 weeks. Hot water will also need to take the backseat to cool water while you’re in your aftercare phase. Using cool water, you can gently massage your skin with your fingertips and a mild cleanser such as Dove Unscented Bar Soap for Sensitive Skin, Aveeno, Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Vanicream. There are a number of other brands out there, so when in doubt, consult your esthetician, and they will steer you in the right direction. It’s also important that you do not apply makeup for 24 hours after your chemical peel.
For up to 2 weeks after your chemical peel, it’s in your best interest to avoid direct sunlight for a number of reasons. For one, the direct sun exposure will cause redness and irritation to your skin. Another reason is that the heat from the sun (or tanning bed) will cause you to sweat. Sweating excessively after treatment can irritate the skin or cause blistering due to the sweat being unable to escape through the top layer of dead skin. This level of irritation could potentially lead to scarring, so your best bet is to keep it cool while you’re in the aftercare phase of your chemical peel. An important part of your aftercare will involve wearing SPF 30+ daily to keep your skin safe. Sunlight isn’t the only culprit, however, and you also need to refrain from using hot tubs, saunas, or pools for at least 48 hours.
Acidic products such as retinoids, acne medications, benzoyl peroxide, as well as antibiotics such as Doxycycline will increase your skin’s photosensitivity. These products should be avoided for the same reasons as direct sun exposure. The good news is that depending on your results, you may only have to refrain from using these products for 2 weeks. If you’re not sure, always consult your esthetician for input.
If this is your first time, you might be unfamiliar with the changes your body will present to you. For example, for some their skin might take on a rough, patchy quality for a few days after treatment, but will resolve on its own. Peeling can begin anywhere, but most often starts around the mouth or nose. The texture of your skin is different depending on the treated area as well. Your back, chest, legs, and arms will all react slightly differently from your face or scalp for example.
Locking in moisture will be paramount in your recovery process. Be sure to use a non-comedogenic moisturizer such as Aveeno or Cetaphil. If you have a particularly strong peel, petroleum jelly is also a great source of relief as your skin is recovering. Moisturizing helps reduce the chance of bacterial infection, redness, and irritation. You can use these products as needed. Not only are you relieving some of the discomfort from your peel, you’re locking moisture into your skin, which will give your chemical peel optimal results.
Whether you’re a chemical peel veteran, or just starting out, it never hurts to arm yourself with information. When in doubt, just ask! There are no dumb questions when it comes to the health of your skin and your body. Consulting your provider to determine when you should continue your regular skincare regimen post-treatment only costs you a little bit of time, and will give you the peace of time you need. It’s always better to play it safe!
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