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Chemical Peel Aftercare: How to Care For Your Skin

Chemical peels are a great way to rejuvenate a dull complexion and treat a range of skin concerns. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that can refresh and renew your skin.

But it’s important to take care of your skin post-treatment. You can speed up the recovery process and maximise the results by following the right chemical peel aftercare instructions.

This guide will reveal what to expect after a chemical peel and the dos and don’ts of taking care of your skin.

What Do Chemical Peels Do?

Chemical peels are an exfoliation treatment that stimulates new collagen and elastin production through controlled removal of the top layers of skin. Dull and damaged skin is removed so new healthy skin can take its place.

It’s a popular treatment for hyperpigmentation, sun-damaged skin, acne scars, and signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles.

While chemical peels have been around for a long time and have an excellent safety record, your skin will be extra sensitive for at least a few days post-treatment. Side effects like redness and flaking are also common.

That’s why chemical peel treatment aftercare is so important.

Chemical Peel Aftercare Instructions

Protect Your Skin From the Sun

Your skin is more vulnerable to sun damage after a chemical peel procedure. This is because the top layers of skin have been removed, and the new skin underneath can easily be damaged by the sun’s UV rays.

In a 2019 study, researchers at Birmingham University discovered that sun exposure affects the connective proteins that bond together skin cells. This is why skin peeling is one of the common effects of sunburn.

After a chemical peel, you need to pay more attention to sun protection. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30+ SPF for at least six weeks after your chemical peel. 

Sun damage is the leading cause of ageing skin, so you should already use sunscreen as part of your regular skincare regime.

Avoid Harsh Soaps and Cleansers

Harsh soaps and cleansers dry the skin by stripping away its natural oils. This can cause irritation post-peel and trigger redness and dryness. 

Choose a light cleanser that is safe for sensitive skin. For example, Benefit Clean 150ml is a gentle cleanser suitable for all skin types. It soothes and hydrates the skin to speed up the recovery following a chemical peel.

Use Cool Water To Cleanse Your Face

You should use cool or room temperature water to cleanse the skin post-peel. It’s also important to pat the skin dry with a clean towel and never rub.

Hot water can irritate new skin following a chemical peel. It can also cause dryness and increase the likelihood of peeling and skin flaking. 


The skin can feel dry for the first few days following treatment. As part of your chemical peel aftercare, your practitioner will recommend that you use a gentle moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated. You should use a water-based moisturiser free of any exfoliation ingredients, such as lactic acid or BHAs.

Let Your Skin Peel Naturally

The most important rule for chemical peel aftercare is to let the skin peel naturally. If you pick or pull at peeling skin, you can cause a bunch of unwanted side effects, including infection.

After a peel, the skin’s cutaneous barrier is temporarily weakened. As a result, your skin will be more vulnerable to bacteria for the first few days as the pores on your face will be open. 

Every time you touch your face, you risk bacteria getting into the pores and causing a breakout. Touching, rubbing, or picking at the skin can also increase irritation. 

Follow Your Practitioner’s Chemical Peel Aftercare Instructions

There are lots of different types of chemical peels. Some stronger peels cause a more intense reaction by penetrating the deeper layers of the skin, while more superficial peels result in much fewer side effects.

Your skincare professional will tailor the aftercare instructions based on your skin type and type of peel to help you achieve optimal results. It’s essential to follow the instructions and listen to the aftercare tips provided to you.

What Not to Do After a Chemical Peel

Don’t Use Physical Exfoliants

Flaking skin softens when it’s exposed to water. So, it can be tempting to use a facial scrub or washcloth to remove the dead, peeling skin. 

However, this will also cause new cells to be removed and damage skin integrity. This can result in a longer recovery time and cause scabbing and discolouration.

Avoid Chemical Exfoliation Ingredients

You should also avoid any chemical exfoliants. A chemical peel provides a strong exfoliation of the skin. Using additional exfoliation products during the recovery stage can strip the skin of moisture and cause damage to new skin cells.

Don’t use any skin care products containing acids and enzymes designed to exfoliate.

Don’t Do Intense Exercise

Your practitioner may recommend that you avoid heavy exercise for 72 hours after a chemical peel. In some cases, they may advise you to wait for up to one week before exercising, depending on the type and strength of the peel.

When you sweat during exercise, the salt in the sweat can irritate sensitive skin and increase the risk of unwanted side effects. You can do low-impact exercise during the recovery period, but you should avoid intense workouts.

Avoid Acidic and Salty Foods

The skin around the mouth is where people often experience the most skin peeling due to the constant muscle movement from talking and facial expressions. This means the area around the mouth can be extra sensitive following a chemical peel.  

When you eat highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes, oranges, and other fruits, it can irritate the skin. It’s also a good idea to avoid salty foods for the first few days post-procedure until your skin has recovered.

Don’t Use Retinol

Retinol can be a key part of a good skincare regime. It speeds up cell turnover to keep the skin looking fresh and more youthful. However, a chemical peel also increases cell turnover by removing the top layers of skin and stimulating new collagen production.

Using retinol following a chemical peel can cause irritation and increase the risk of side effects. It’s best to avoid retinol and similar ingredients until the peeling process has stopped and your skin has fully recovered.

What Does Your Face Look Like After a Chemical Peel?

It’s common to experience some redness and tenderness for the first few hours after a chemical peel. Over the next few days, you may experience some dryness and mild swelling. This is also when the skin starts to peel and appear flaky. In some cases, the skin can appear darker than usual.

By day seven, all side effects should subside, and your skin will start to look and feel more normal. However, the recovery process can take up to two weeks for deep peels.

What Is the Recovery Time for a Chemical Peel?

The recovery time for chemical peels depends on the strength and type of peel. For example, a deep peel will cause more side effects and require more time for your skin to return to normal. On the other hand, superficial peels often involve little to no recovery time.

It’s important to follow your practitioner’s chemical peel aftercare instructions to speed up the recovery and achieve optimal results.

How Long After a Chemical Peel Can I Wear Makeup?

If you have a light, superficial peel, you may be able to apply makeup immediately after your treatment. However, for deep chemical peels, you may need to wait up to 5-7 days before you can wear makeup.

Your clinician may also advise using mineral-based products to avoid clogging pores and causing irritation.

Chemical Peels at b clinic

A medical-grade peel can be a highly effective way to target fine lines, wrinkles, and other visible signs of ageing. It’s a versatile treatment that can be tailored to your skin type and aesthetic goals.
If you want to know more about this treatment and what to expect, schedule a free consultation with one of our cosmetic doctors here at b clinic.