I Was Told Not to Use Moisturizer After IPL, Why?

I read that you should use moisturizer after IPL, but when I had it done, my doctor told me NOT to use any to help speed up the "clearing" of the coffee grounds. Sure enough they all flaked off within 7 days, AND I had a lot. I also keep reading that it takes people 2-3 weeks to clear the coffee grounds when using moisturizer. So I'm confused as to what's up with the differing advice. ???

Doctor Answers 6

Using Moisturizer after IPL Treatment

Avoiding a moisturizer after Intense Pulsed Light treatments may be based on the concern that superficial areas which get deeply pigmented and peel off can become healed over if moisturizer is used after IPL. At my practice in New York, I recommend using a good skin cleanser and then a lightweight moisturizer after our clients have IPL treatments.

New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Moisturizer and IPL

Here are some reasons why you might feel like you are getting conflicting advice.

 When we are treating Hyperpigmentation we often use hydroquinone (a topical product that blocks your skin from putting down more of the pigment).  We often are treating this in conjunction with a retinol that helps exfoliate the skin.  During this time some providers don't necessarily recommend moisturizer.

Some doctors have specific protocols after laser treatments.  For example, if an IPL is combined with a resurfacing laser treatment a thicker petroleum is often recommended for a couple of days before converting over to moisturizer.

Sunscreen, on the other hand, is generally always recommended.

It really depends on the context of the advice.  Discuss these recommendations further with your physician.  Good luck!



Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

IPL and Moisturizers

You should absolutely use a moisturizer and sunscreen after IPL treatments. They have no adverse effects on the resolution of the "coffee grind" like pigmentation. The sunscreen gives the added benefit of helping to prevent those nasty brown spots from reoccurring. Please continue your sunscreen forever!

Sheri G. Feldman, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Moisturize after IPL

Coffee grounding is not affected by moisturizer and takes about a week. I recommend patients moisturize and use sunscreen every day, no matter what. Like Dr. Klein, we put moisturizer, hydrocortisone, and sunscreen on patients right after IPL and have great results. If you aren't using sunscreen you're causing further damage to your skin that you're paying to repair!

F. Victor Rueckl, MD
Las Vegas Dermatologist
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Moisturizer after IPL is okay

I have never heard that moisturizer affects healing after IPL and there is no reason that it should. Our patients use moisturizer and sunscreen (in fact we apply it for them after the treatment as well) and their "coffee grind" looking dark spots fade in approximately 1 week as yours did without moisturizer.

Lorrie Klein, MD
Laguna Niguel Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 216 reviews

Moisturizers and Sunscreen use is key after IPL treatments

Moisturizers and Sunscreen use is key after IPL treatments.  In fact, it is not out of the ordinary I encourage my patients to add a Kojic Acid or Hydroquinone to their daily regimen for maintenance and optimal results.


Dr. Grant Stevens

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

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.