In-office skin peels can help reveal better, brighter, healthier skin, but it may also tend to come with some short-lived but pesky side effects. As the name suggests, there can be peeling, but that’s not all—there can also be temporary redness and sensitivity due to the deeper exfoliation of the skin. We talked to dermatologists about what kind of care instructions you should follow post-peel to ensure that your skin stays healthy and radiant long-term.
Don’t pick your face
Following a peel, your face is going to be doing just that: peeling. It may be hard to resist touching your peeling skin, but experts say it’s essential to the healing process. “Always resist picking, pulling, peeling, or touching your face,” warns Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill.
Use a gentle cleanser
What you decide to put on your face in the days following a peel is crucial. Since your skin will be sensitive for a bit, Dr. Longwill says you should “always use a gentle cleanser seven to 10 days post peel.” These options have been vetted and approved for safe cleansing post-procedure.
Avoid using retinol
“Post-peel skin may be more sensitive to some products such as retinoids and glycolic acid,” says Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD. “Care should be taken to restart these products slowly, only after the skin is completely healed.” Dr. Longwill also advises refraining from using any antibiotic creams.
Although you may think exfoliation will help speed up the peeling and improve your skin further, experts advise against doing this. New York dermatologist Jody A. Levine, MD says you should avoid exfoliating for three to four days after a peel.
Dr. Longwill says the most important step of post-peel skin care is applying sunscreen daily. “After a peel, consistent application and reapplication of sunscreen every 2-3 hours is key to protect the freshly peeled skin,” explains Dr. Behr. Dr. Levine recommends wearing SPF 45 or higher.
Avoid working out and high heat
During the 48 hours following your peel, Dr. Longwill says you should “refrain from working out or being in contact with high heat.” She notes that this includes everything from opening an oven to sitting in a sauna.
Hydrate your skin
Dr. Levine says, “After a peel, you should moisturize and hydrate to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier and support healing.” Dr. Behr advises using products with hyaluronic acid in them, which “will help keep the skin hydrated since the skin barrier may be compromised for a short period after the peel.”
Follow any doctor ordered care instructions
If you opt for an in-office peel rather than an at-home peel, you’ll want to adhere to any doctor orders. “It is essential to keep up with the post-care instructions given by your doctor,” says Dr. Longwill.
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