Chemical peel aftercare advice

Aftercare Advice:

The initial -72 hours post procedure are the most critical.  

Clients should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Use sun protection during the day, regardless of the weather
  • Do not have any other facial treatments whilst undergoing your treatment course
  • Do not use any exfoliating products for at least one week after the final professional treatment
  • Avoid direct sun and extremes of heat or cold. ​This includes tasks such as gardening, cooking over a hot stove for a long period of time, exercising, swimming, sitting next to a bonfire or fireplace, hot tubs, baths.
  • Discontinue use of any AHA products for 72 hours, or 6 weeks if doing a treatment cycle. A client may continue their regular skin care routine after 72 hours or when their skin is no longer flaking/peeling.
  • Use hydrating and reparative products. Products rich in soothing and healing ingredients are best to encourage new healthy cell growth. Antioxidants, Vitamins A, C and E, Natural Skin Lighteners and Growth Factors work well.
  • No scratching, peeling or picking, no exercise, steam rooms or hot tubs for first 24 hours, drink plenty of water and have a realistic expectation of the healing process.


In depth aftercare advice: Do’s and Don’ts


So you just got a chemical peel. Now you’re left with dry, irritated, red, peeling skin—all perfectly common post-peel side effects. But now what? Here are my tips for chemical peel aftercare and managing the side effects without disrupting your skin’s natural healing process.

With a chemical peel, the name says exactly what the skin is supposed to do—peel. Your practitioner has applied a chemical solution (acid) 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 whatever you can to make it stop before its ready to. The goal is to keep the skin feeling moist, calm and comfortable.

Chemical Peel Aftercare Dos:

  • Avoid make up for 24 hours
  • Avoid saunas & all other types of heat treatments such as hot baths and steam rooms for 7 days

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.

Chemical peel: Aftercare

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 chemical peel.

Do wear sunscreen after a chemical peel.

Stating the obvious, but the skin is very vulnerable post-peel. UV light (even daylight on a cloudy day) is damaging your skin. If the skin is overly flaky and you’re being mindful of not touching it too often, so be gentle.  A minimum SPF 50 is recommended.

Do limit your time outdoors.

After a chemical 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 such an inflamed state, you don’t want to make it worse. Avoid sunbeds for 4 weeks

Do use products with soothing ingredients.

You want to provide as much comfort to the skin as possible to ease redness and irritation. I have every one of my clients use a water-based gel mask (no more than once a day) if they feel like their skin is too uncomfortable. I suggest keeping it in the refrigerator to provide an extra cooling experience. .

After a chemical 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 this type of regimen, in this order.

  • Wash your skin with a gentle, low-foaming, sulphate-free cleanser.
  • Use an essence but mist it on the skin. This is essentially an alcohol-free toner that removes impure tap water from the skin post-cleansing. This is also serum-infused to deliver excellent hydration. This provides additional comfort to irritated and peeled skin. Normally, you’d apply a toner or essence to a cotton pad then wipe it over the skin. Since post-peel you want to minimise rubbing, instead put the product into a spray bottle and mist it on the face. If you don’t have a spray bottle, then pour into the palm of your hand and pat it on the face. Like all toners, you should leave an essence damp on the skin so your serum that follows can seal in its hydration benefits.
  • Apply a no-sting, acid-free antioxidant serum. Since the skin has been traumatised (which is the intention), free radical production is very high. You’ll want to suppress some of that free radical activity by using a gentle 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 after a peel. Instead, look for vitamin C ingredients like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate or Ascorbyl Palmitate. All of these are considered to be best for sensitive skin since they are stable, acid-free and don’t cause a stinging sensation.


Chemical peel: Aftercare


  • Apply moisturiser. If it’s during the day, you’ll want a moisturizer with sunscreen. (One with Zinc Oxide is ideal as it will be more soothing to the skin.) In the evening, you’ll want to use a non-sunscreen moisturizer for your skin type. Be sure to use a light touch when applying.
  • Do use a natural skin brightener.

Since chemical 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 (common in skin that already struggles with discoloration/brown spots). I recommend that my clients use a vitamin C serum, as mentioned above since vitamin C works beautifully to calm melanin cells.

Chemical Peel Aftercare Don’ts:

Don’t pick or pull at the flaky skin

The whole purpose of a chemical 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.

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 or facial scrub. 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. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. This certainly defeats any benefits from getting the peel in the first place.

Don’t over-moisturise after a chemical peel.

To compensate for post-peeling dryness, don’t over-moisturize. When the skin is peeling and flaky, it’s normal to want to continually apply a skin oil or heavy moisturizer to comfort and alleviate dryness. While you DO want to keep the skin moist because moisturizers can aid healing and you certainly don’t want the skin to crack, 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 moisturizer and let the skin do what it wants to do—shed.

Don’t exfoliate with 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 moisturizer, will only irritate the skin further and possibly burn and temporarily scar the skin. While I love exfoliation, and you’ll want to get back to that two weeks after a peel to keep up the results, this is not the time.

Chemical peel: Aftercare

Don’t sweat too much after a chemical peel.

Especially at the height of the peeling, your protective barrier is damaged. When you sweat while working out, the salt can cause a stinging sensation which may further the irritation. Avoid physical exertion for at least 48 hours.

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.  Avoid for 7 days after and ask our advice before continuing any further topical or professional resurfacing treatment

Additional services with a Chemical peel treatment:

If a mask/peel is added to your service, they are most effective after a Chemical peel treatment as the hydration of the skin has increased due to the exfoliation of the dead skin cells which have been removed.