What Kind of Facial Wash & Lotion Should I Use After a Chemical Peel?

I had a chemical peel yesterday and I know my face should exfoliate. What kind of facial wash would be appropriate? What about lotions afterwards? Do they need to have more gentle ingredients or keep this drying process going? I have products of both types but have no idea what to use.

Doctor Answers 8

Aftercare for Chemical Peels

First, I'm saddened the office you went to didn't give you postcare directions! I would recommend a gentle cleanser and no rubbing, exfoliating, Clarisonic, puffs, or washcloths. Lightly apply a gentle cleanser like Dove or Cetaphil and rinse it off. You shouldn't need to manually exfoliate your skin and could cause more damage if you do. After that I would recommend a good, thick cream (like DML Forte or Aquaphor), as you want to keep the skin moisturized. if you have any areas that are excessively red or peeling you can apply an OTC hydrocortisone 1% after the cleansing and before the creams. Lastly, you need to apply a good sunscreen, no matter what the weather looks like, because this will be newer skin cells you are exposing to the environment, so start protecting them right away!

Post chemical peel skin care

For the first week after a chemical peel use a bland, gentle cleanser-- no scrubs, acids or medicated washes,  Stay out of the sun and use a moisturizer with sunscreen during the day and a plain rich moisturizer at night.  Depending on the peel you may want to moisturize several times throughout the day. 

Dina D. Strachan, MD
New York Dermatologist
3.3 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Chemical Peels and Aftercare

Chemical peels are wonderful for exfoliating and rejuvenating the skin.  I always review the post-procedure instructions which consist of lipid-free gentle cleansers and emollients to help with the peeling. It is also vital to stay out of the sun and apply sunscreen. The dermatology office should have reviewed the instructions with you after the chemical peel.

Post-Chemical Peel Skincare Regimen

Your questions are excellent ones and, quite frankly, should have been answered for you in the office after receiving the peel.  In addition to reviewing post-peel skincare instructions with my patients in the office at the time of the peel, I send them home with the same information written on an instruction sheet.  The most important thing is for you to avoid the sun, cleanse gently and repeatedly hydrate with bland emollients such as vaseline (aquaphor).  Avoid exfoliation products or treatments as well as harsh or abrasive products. Do not pick  or scratch peeled skin and after you cleanse, just pat the areas dry gently.  Gentle cleansers include Dove and Cetaphil which do not have harsh, drying ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. 

Post-Chemical Peel

You need to hydrate your face with thick moisturizers and stay away from the sun.  Avoid any exfoliators or anything abrasive that would aggravate your skin. 

Kimberly Lee, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

After peel care

We have our patients wash with a gentle cleanser like cetaphil and use a thick moisturizer, preferably the types that come in jars or are creams, not lotions(cetaphil, eucerin, cereve). Vaseline can be good in first few days but after that you run risk of getting acne/folliculitis with that.  Number one care point-keep out of sun.

Jo Herzog, MD
Birmingham Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Right after a chemical peel be kind to your skin.

Chemical peels, even mild chemical peels take time to work and heal.  The peeling agent injures your skin and this stimulates skin turn over which is ultimately responsible for skin improvement.  It is important to avoid further injuring the skin after a chemical peel.  Keeping the skin moist helps it heal faster than if the skin is dry.  Moisturizer is not always adequate to this task.  If it is working for you, great.  If the skin still feels dry or tight with the moisturizer, consider using a light amount of Vasoline.  This product is petrolatum whipped with water.  It is effective for moisturizing.  It is not ideal because is can clog pores and cause acne.  Once the moisturizer is working this is more cosmetic product than Vasoline.  Immediately after a peel, avoid home skin care products that contain acidity which can be irritating.  Retin A should be avoided for about a week or so after the skin has healed.  A number skin care products contain alcohols that strip oil out of the skin and these should be avoided after a chemical peel of any strength.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Post Peel Care

Each peel comes with its own specific post care instructions so I would advise you to call and ask the medical office that you had the procedure performed in. However, I can tell you that with most peels you do need to use only a gentle wash that is chemical free for the first week followed by a broad spectrum sunscreen. Depending on what peel you had done will determine when you would start using a moisturizer. Is some cases, a moisturizer can slow down or stunt the actual peeling process. You should allow approximately three to four days for the peeling process to start. It is very important that you do not pick or pull at any of the skin it should naturally slough off.  

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.