Chemical peels administered by aesthetic professionals are one of the most popular treatments for getting your skin into top shape. This non-invasive cosmetic procedure is effective for fixing fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne breakouts, and scarring, plus other skin problems, and can help reduce the signs of again and sun damage. Chemical peels rejuvenate the skin by removing the outermost surface layer to reveal the bright and smoother-looking layer of skin underneath. They won’t remove all imperfections, but they can certainly give you a brighter outlook once your skin has finished the healing process.
For a chemical peel treatment to be effective, you must follow a pre and post-peel routine generally prescribed by the medical practice where you have your skincare treatment performed. Taking care of your skin following a peel is essential to maintain optional skin health and avoid discomfort and visible side effects.
What is a Chemical Skin Peel?
To understand the importance of caring for your skin after a chemical peel, you should learn how a peel affects your skin. A chemical peel involves the application of specific agents like glycolic and salicylic acids .to the skin’s top layer, removing it to reveal the next layer of skin underneath. In other words, it’s a type of skin exfoliation. Patients will undergo one of three skin peel types:
- Light peels, using diluted acids that slough off the top layer of skin to treat mild problems.
- Medium peels have slightly higher acid concentrations to treat more serious problems like severe acne and hyperpigmentation.
- Deep peels remove several skin layers through a strong acid concentration.
Your medical provider will customize your chemical peel treatment plan to address your skin type and your concerns. Each varies in intensity and depth of penetration, resulting in customized aftercare recommendations to help the skin healing process and maximize the effects of the procedure. Peeling agents like glycolic and salicylic acid are used to accomplish the peels.
What happens during a chemical peel?
Most skin care patients will need to follow a specific pre-peel regimen for two to four weeks before their procedure. The purpose of this regimen is to help you improve results and reduce potential side effects. Your pre-peel and chemical peel aftercare are personalized according to your needs, along with the type of peel you receive from your medical professional.
When you arrive for your chemical peel, your aesthetician will thoroughly clean your skin. Patients undergoing deep peels should receive the procedure in a surgical setting where they receive general anesthesia.
Once your skin has been prepped, your provider will quickly and evenly apply the peel and remove it at the appropriate time. If you receive a deep peel, your provider will treat your skin in small sections to limit the effects on your heart and lungs. After the peel comes off, your aftercare will begin. Patients who receive a medium peel typically get cool compresses followed by lotion or cream to soothe their skin immediately after the procedure. A deep peel produces a wound that will require a surgical dressing.
What Visible Side Effects Can I Expect After a Chemical Peel?
Experiencing various side effects during the peeling process will depend on your skin’s sensitivity. Post peel, your skin will be red and dry, and you may experience itchiness, swelling, flaking, and discomfort as your body eliminates dead skin cells. Deep chemical peels may cause your eyelids to swell. A few days after treatment, your skin may acquire a rough, patchy, darkened quality that will resolve independently. You may notice pronounced age spots or other discoloration until the dead cells slough off. Most side effects subside independently, but your doctor may prescribe prescription or over-the-counter hydrocortisone if the skin becomes overly irritated or inflamed.
Recuperation Timelines After Chemical Peels
The deeper the peel, the longer the time before your skin peels and the longer your recuperation will be. Your response depends on skin type, age, lifestyle, hormones, and even weather. If you have a peel on your chest, back, arms, and legs, you can expect your skin to react differently as it has a different texture from the skin on your face. Healing may take longer in those areas.
Areas around the nose and mouth are usually the first places where peeling beings, but the process could begin anywhere. Most patients see peeling n the fourth day after treatment, but some never see peeling at all. Don’t worry if you don’t have peeling skin, as yours has exfoliated microscopically.
Are you wondering how long your recuperation time will be following your chemical peel? Here is what you can expect.
Mild Chemical Peel
Healing time takes one to seven days. Expect your skin to be red, but after the redness disappears, you may experience scaling, lasting another three to seven days. A follow-up visit with your aesthetician is usually not required unless the peel results in adverse side effects.
Medium Chemical Peel
Expect healing to take seven to 14 days. Swelling will worsen for 48 hours after the procedure, and your eyes may swell too. Your skin may blister and break open, followed by crusting and the peeling process. You’ll need to see your health care provider after the procedure.
Deep Chemical Peel
Healing can take from 14 to 21 days. The treatment area will be bandaged at first. Your chemical peel aftercare regimen will be much more stringent than that for light and medium chemical peels. Your provider may prescribe an antiviral medication for ten to 14 days to help aid the skin’s natural protective barrier, which is more vulnerable following a chemical peel.
The Importance of Chemical Peel Aftercare
A chemical peel removes the skin’s natural protective barrier. As such, you must protect your skin from various agents that can damage it more easily. Proper care also makes your skin bounce back and maximizes the chemical benefits. Follow these expert tips to ensure you get the most out of your chemical peel.
Top Expert Tips to Recover From a Chemical Peel
Your skin is more delicate after a chemical peel, necessitating the skin care regimen prescribed by your aesthetician. Note that these are general recommendations on how to care for your skin after a peel and that your health care provider may recommend other or additional precautions.
Make Sunscreen Your Best Friend
You’ll need to stay out of the sun for up to six months after this cosmetic procedure, depending on the depth of your chemical peel. Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during the prescribed time as the newly revealed skin is particularly vulnerable to sun exposure to ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen in all situations is essential as it aids the skin’s natural protective barrier while it is still weak. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen lotions of at least SPF 30 frequently, especially immediately after your cosmetic procedure, and stay out of direct sunlight for the amount of time prescribed by your aesthetician. Use sun protection even if you will be in the house or primarily in shade, as UV rays will enter buildings through windows and can have an indirect effect even in outdoor shade.
Don’t Pick at Your Skin
It’s tempting to pick at your skin after chemical peels as you want to get rid of the flakiness as soon as possible. But if you try to do so, you may pull on skin that isn’t quite ready to come off. Leave skin alone post peel and let it come off as it wants to avoid damage. Picking at shedding skin can lead to bleeding and scarring. Flaking will pass within a few days.
Avoid Chemical or Mechanical Exfoliators
Avoiding the use of even a light cleansing brush or a mild scrub may be even more difficult after a chemical peel when it begins to get dry and flaky. Even mild exfoliation techniques performed at home can cause damage to skin that has just undergone an intense chemical peel. Give your skin time to recover and fully heal. You may have to wait several weeks if you have undergone a medium or deep peel. Always listen to your provider’s advice about resuming home exfoliation.
Avoid Excessive Heat and Strenuous Activity
Excessive heat and difficult workout regimens can harm you in several ways immediately after your peel. Heavy workouts increase blood circulation and can intensify post-peel symptoms and increase recovery time, so it’s important to avoid strenuous workouts. Excessive sweating can also clog pores leading to skin irritation, blistering, and infection. Sweat can lift the skin prematurely and lead to scarring. Avoid saunas, hot tubs, tanning beds, and other sources of heat.
Ditch Your Usual Skincare Routine
Change the way you take care of your healing skin by using a gentle cleanser to wash it. When washing, use warm or cool water as using hot water can irritate or damage your skin. Cool water will also help calm irritation and provide relief to any symptoms. Your already sensitive skin will appreciate a gentle cleanser with soothing properties that may ease itching and another discomfort during the first few weeks of peeling. Once the skin has fully recovered, you can resume your normal skincare routine.
Moisturize but Not Too Much
With your skin’s protective barrier weakened, it’s important to reinforce it by applying moisturizer sparingly. Your skin will feel parched and dry. Use a lightweight formulation to help reduce visible redness. Also, keep your skin hydrated by attempting to drink eight glasses of water per day. If your skin feels dry during the day, spritz a hydrating mist onto your face instead of reapplying moisturizer. Overuse of moisturizer is counter-productive as it will stall the work of the chemical peeling agent.
Keep Hair Away From Your Face
As you already have sensitive skin thanks to the procedure, strands of hair that continually contact your face may be resulting itch and irritation. Pull your hair away from your face by using a ponytail holder, or if your hair is too short, use a headband or a clip. Be careful when combing your hair, so you don’t actually harm facial skin, which can lead to a scratch or wound that can result in an infection or a break
When Can I Wear Makeup?
One of the most common questions from chemical peel patients involves when they can start wearing makeup. General advice indicates that you should do so sparingly in the first weeks after your peel. Because the skin’s protective barrier has been displaced, your body may absorb undesirable chemicals, including heavy metals and other contaminants that can lodge into skin layers. This can impede the exfoliation process until your skin is fully healed.
Wait at least seven to ten days and even longer after a chemical peel treatment before applying cosmetics to give your skin a chance to recover and fully breathe. Nevertheless, you may encounter situations where you need to wear makeup before you are fully healed. If so, follow these guidelines:
- Use a moisturizing gel to hydrate and prep your skin
- Apply a lightweight sunscreen under makeup
- Skip foundation and use a tinted moisturizer instead to minimize flaking
- Set your look with a hydrating mist instead of a makeup setting spray
Remove makeup as soon as possible or before going to bed. Wash with a mild cleanser and warm water and then apply an evening cream or moisturizer approved by your provider.
Don’t Forget to Practice Self Care for Your Skin
You know your skin best, even more so than your aesthetician, in some respects. If something doesn’t feel right, drop what you are doing to avoid further irritation post-peel. Don’t worry about how your skin looks as you have just received a treatment that will help its top layers. The whole point is to forget about your skin after treatment. Go read a book, get a manicure and do something else you enjoy without worrying about recovery time or other aspects of your treatment.
Listen to Your Provider
Possibly the best advice anyone can give you regarding chemical peels is to follow the advice given by your aesthetic provider regarding your skin after chemical peels. Your provider will have the best suggestions on using skincare products and their active ingredients while recuperating from your chemical procedure.
Author’s BIO: Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions. Lori is currently engaged in news and conceptual articles on the health and beauty industry. You can find her on LinkedIn. Hope you appreciate Lori’s useful insights!