Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How Long After Chemical Peel Can You Exfoliate

If you’ve recently had a chemical peel, you’re probably wondering when you can start exfoliating again. It’s important to keep your skin healthy and clear, but it’s also important to make sure that you’re doing things right.

You may have heard that exfoliating is bad for your skin after a chemical peel. This is actually not true! While it’s true that some people should avoid exfoliating their face for several days after a chemical peel, there are others who can begin to gently use products like scrubs and masks as early as 24 hours later.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about how long after a chemical peel it’s safe for you to start exfoliating again, what products are best for your skin type and needs, and how often you should be using them.

How Long After Chemical Peel Can You Exfoliate

Chemical peels are specially formulated blends of natural acids and enzymes designed to exfoliate your skin and stimulate new cell growth and collagen production, resulting in fresher, clearer, and brighter skin.

They can be used to even the skin tone and texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; eliminate hyperpigmentation and blemishes, and reduce inflammation and breakouts caused by acne. After a peel, your skin should be hydrated, nourished, smoother, and softer. You can read our ultimate guide to skin peels here.

You can maximise the treatment results and the speed of your skin’s recovery by following simple aftercare tips. In this blog, we discuss what to expect after a chemical peel and chemical peel aftercare. Read on to find out more.

What To Expect After A Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are one of the most misunderstood beauty treatments. The media tends to show us sensationalist photos of celebrities with peeling, flaking, irritated, and painful-looking skin. But these images portray the results of old and outdated peel formulas, which used to have these unpleasant side effects. Today’s peels work in a different way. They contain multiple exfoliating, natural enzymes, and acids that leave skin glowing rather than peeling or flaking.

If you have your peel done by an experienced doctor, using professional grade products, you can expect these results:

  • Immediate results: Professional grade, advanced peel blends exfoliate the top layers of the skin at a microscopic level. This action tightens the skin, unblocks clogged pores, and improves fine lines. The skin is left feeling smoother and softer.
  • Usually no peeling, flaking or irritation: Most clients do not experience peeling or flaking skin after treatment. Of course, this will vary depending on the skin type and type of peel advised by your dermatologist, but most peels no longer result in flaking skin.
  • No downtime: A well prescribed and blended peel will not trigger effects that cause the need to hide until they’re gone. You should be able to continue life as usual.
  • A slight increase in sensitivity: Your skin will likely feel sensitive for a few days after the treatment. This is when you can aid recovery by following aftercare advice.

After your treatment, your dermatologist will provide you with personalised recommendations for products and instructions on how to use them.

At sk:n we use Medik8 products, which are professional-grade exfoliating acids that help resurface and re-texture the skin. They use a powerful blend of ingredients to penetrate the top layers of the skin and visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, blemishes, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation.

The peels you can use at home are very different from the ones used in- clinics and will affect your skin differently. Read about in-clinic vs. at-home peels here.

Deeper Chemical Peel Recovery Process

If your skin condition calls for a deeper peel, which exfoliates down to the lower levels of your skin, your recovery may be different.

This is the general timeline for the chemical peel process, day by day:

  • In the first few hours, you may notice redness, tingling, or a burning sensation.
  • In the first 1 or 2 days, you may see some mild swelling/irritation or begin to notice dryness.
  • In 2 or 3 days after the treatment, your skin may begin to peel, and any hyperpigmentation or blemishes may be more noticeable.
  • In 5 to 7 days, any side effects will diminish, and your skin will return to normal.
  • In 7 to 14 days, you’ll see the healthy new skin formed but may notice some redness or skin that is darker or lighter for up to a month.

Remember, this timeline is for deeper chemical peels. Always discuss with your dermatologist which type of peel is right for your skin type. You can read about different skin types and peels here.

Chemical Peel Aftercare

After a peel, there are some simple actions you can take to care for your skin and increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Here are our top tips for chemical peel aftercare:

  • Cleanse with cool water – Your skin will most likely be sensitive after treatment, and hot water will probably feel uncomfortable. Wash your face with cool water, and remember to pat dry rather than rub your skin
  • Use a soap-free cleanser – Soap can dry out your skin and strip it of its natural oils, not a good thing when you’ve just had a deep exfoliation. It may also irritate your more sensitive skin.
  • Use a high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen – Using sunscreen is essential after a peel as your skin is more sensitive to sun damage. Ask your dermatologist for advice on which sunscreen to use, as some chemical-based products may irritate. Use an SPF 30+ for at least 6 weeks after treatment.
  • Don’t exfoliate – Your skin just had, probably, the deepest exfoliation it has ever had; it doesn’t need more. Avoid exfoliating for at least 3 to 5 days after a light peel and perhaps weeks after a medium or deep peel. Always follow your practitioner’s instructions.
  • Avoid touching your face – Try not to touch your face, pick, peel or prod for a few days after the treatment.
  • Avoid high temperatures – Avoid saunas, prolonged sun exposure or hot exercise classes, as these encourage inflammation.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise – Again, this might cause inflammation. You can return to your regular exercise routine after about 14 days.
  • Moisturise – Applying a good quality moisturiser regularly will aid recovery. Make sure your moisturiser is free from harsh chemicals and irritants; it’s also better to use a water-based product. Your dermatologist can recommend the best product for you.
  • Avoid products containing retinol – We are often asked how soon after a chemical peel you can use retinol. We recommend avoiding products containing retinol for 10 days after the treatment.
  • Don’t have another skincare treatment too soon – Give your skin some time to heal and repair before rushing into another treatment, at least a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Your practitioner knows best – This is probably the most important aftercare tip. Always listen to your dermatologist and follow their advice after a peel. They can give you personalised instructions and support, suited to your skin type and the type of peel you have had.

At sk:n our chemical peels are administered by fully trained and expert practitioners, performed in a safe, clinical environment, and are always offered as part of a bespoke treatment plan.

Key Learnings

  • Chemical peels are specially formulated blends of natural acids and enzymes designed to exfoliate your skin and stimulate new cell growth and collagen production, resulting in fresher, clearer, and brighter skin.
  • Most of the peels used today have immediate results that leave skin glowing rather than peeling or flaking.
  • Deeper peels may have a longer recovery timeline, but you can speed up and aid recovery by following simple aftercare tips.
  • Remember, your practitioner always knows best; they can give you personalised instructions and support, suited to your skin type and the type of peel you have had.

Removing Dead Skin After Chemical Pee

Chemical peels can help turn sun damaged skin into fantastic, radiant skin. This type of treatment helps reduce hyperpigmentation and improve skin tone, while leaving the skin noticeably brighter and smoother.

Once you’ve invested the time for a chemical peel, it’s equally important to have a good after-treatment plan to see the best results possible.


Here are a few great tips for chemical peel aftercare, so you can maintain the best results from your treatment:

1. Hands Off
The main goal of a chemical peel is to pull up and slough off the damaged skin cells, revealing healthy, glowing skin underneath. When the dead skin starts to shed, avoid touching, picking, or scratching it with your fingers. Let the dead skin shed off naturally, and don’t peel the skin off with your own fingers – using fingers to remove the dead skin can lead to possible scarring.

2. Pull It Back
Pulling your hair back away from the face with a hair band can help prevent you from touching, and keep breakouts at bay. It’s important to allow the skin to go through its natural peeling process, without accidentally contacting your skin while brushing back your hair. Touching the skin with dirty fingers and hands will only aggregate the new skin and may lead to breakouts. If breakouts do occur, don’t treat them yourself! Have your aesthetician treat them for you or just leave them alone.

3. Moisturize – But Just Enough to Be Comfortable
After receiving a chemical peel, your skin will be sensitive. There may be certain products in your normal skin care routine that you’ll want to avoid, as they may have active and irritating ingredients. The only two products you will want to use on your skin during the peeling process are sunscreen and just enough of a bland (neutral) moisturizer to be comfortable. The skin feeling and looking dry is part of the peeling process, and your moisturizer won’t be able to correct that.

Our advice is to use little to no moisturizer for the first couple days after treatment. In some cases, there will be a specific post care moisturizer provided at the time of treatment, which is safe to use, and your SkinSpirit aesthetician will walk you through the details. For some people, the only thing that won’t sting the skin is Aquaphor, which is easily available over the counter.

When applying moisturizer to the skin, be careful as well not to rub or scrub it in. Gently apply a thin layer of moisturizer all over the skin multiple times throughout the day, as needed. You’ll be able to go back to your regular skincare routine once the peeling process is complete and skin no longer feels sensitive – generally within a week of receiving your chemical peel.

4. Protect Your Skin With SPF
You’ve just gone through the process of getting rid of damaged skin with a chemical peel – so it’s important to avoid damaging the new, vulnerable skin coming through by protecting it with a layer of sunscreen anytime exposure to the sun is possible.

Whether sitting by a window, spending time outside, or in front of a screen of any kind, you need to protect your newly brightened skin. Be sure to choose a physical sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and  broad spectrum high safety ratings – your skin will thank you later!

We recommend Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield, which is an easy, gentle and effective way to apply sunscreen protection to overly sensitized skin.

We’ve also put together this SPF guide to help you know what to look for from a sunscreen, and can offer personalized recommendations during a complimentary product consultation at any of our Bay Area, Orange County, Salt Lake City, Texas or Seattle Area clinics.

5. Let It Peel
Do not remove any of the dry, dead skin with any sort of rubbing, peeling or pulling during the peeling process. Safe exfoliation can be done as soon as skin is no longer hyper sensitive.

We recommend the perfect post peel exfoliating duo: Jan Marini Skin Zyme and Clean Zyme, products containing gentle enzymes that soften and melt away dead skin. All facial scrubs, resurfacing acids, Retinols, and even Clarisonic Cleansing Brushes are off limits until the skin stops shedding – usually up to a week after treatment.

6. Lighten Up
Now is a good time to come in for a consult and get a custom home care regimen to maintain your newly brightened skin! You want to be sure to have a great antioxidant, which is your first line of defense against free radicals each and every day. Specialized melanocyte down regulators can help with tougher pigment – see your skin care professional to learn more!

7. Don’t Worry
It’s also a good idea to just read a book and don’t worry about how your skin looks for a few days. The end result is more than worth the investment!

If you have any concerns at all, please call us at (855) 383-7546. We would never want you to be home alone wondering if things are okay, and are happy to address any questions or concerns you have throughout the peeling process!


Please keep in mind that your after care regimen may vary slightly based on the type of peel you receive, and that all skin responds differently. Peeling is not the main indicator of success – it’s the transformation in tone and texture. Some skin may peel very little and some may peel several times.

Chemical Peel Aftercare: Dos and Don’ts

Looking to get vibrant, healthy skin? A chemical peel is a wonderful way to renew skin, help with fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne breakouts, and much more.  

Chemical peel aftercare dos 

  • Do use gentle, soap-free cleansers

Since your skin will most likely be feeling sensitive after a chemical peel it’s important to   use a soap-free facial wash. Soap-free cleansers won’t dry the skin out or strip it of any of its natural oils and are highly recommended before and after a chemical peel.

  • Do use sunblock like it’s going out of style

You just removed layers of skin, so it goes without saying that your newly revealed skin will be super vulnerable to the harsh rays of the sun. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you stay out of the sun and, if you do have to go out, use SPF and a lot of it! We recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30+ and wear a wide brimmed hat. Sunblock should be worn a minimum of 6 weeks after a chemical peel but it should become part of your skincare ritual before and after a chemical peel to avoid the damaging effect of UV rays.

  • Do moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

Did we mention moisturizing? Moisturizing is essential to keep freshly peeled skin hydrated and healthy. Whatever moisturizer you choose should be free of parabens, irritants, and other harsh chemicals. They should also be water-based, not only to provide hydration, but to prevent the skin from quickly flaking and peeling. If you’re looking for great moisturizing products to use before and after a chemical peel, check out Medpeel’s complete line of moisturizers, masks, and eye creams today!  

  • Do use cool water when cleansing

Since your skin will be sensitive after a chemical peel, hot water should be avoided to avoid further inflammation. Instead, we recommend using cool water and patting your skin dry after washing to avoid irritation.  

Chemical Peel Aftercare Don’ts

  • Don’t exfoliate

You just exfoliated the top layer of your skin, the last thing you want to do is exfoliate it some more. We know that when it’s dry and flaky, which is common after a peel, the urge to exfoliate it off is tempting but all we’re going to say is DON’T! We recommend waiting at least 3 days after a light chemical peel and at least a week after a medium or deep peel before exfoliating to give your skin time to recover. For excellent exfoliators to try out before and after a chemical peel, check out Medpeel’s Daily Exfoliators!    

  • Don’t sweat it

Since sweat can irritate skin after a chemical peel, it’s important to keep it cool until it recovers. Therefore, we recommend avoiding things like working out, the sauna, and sunbathing.  

  • Don’t use retinol

Avoid skin turnover overload and stay away from products containing retinol after a chemical peel and for one week before a chemical peel. Save retinol (like Medpeel’s Vitamin C30x Retinol Serum) for after your skin has healed from a chemical peel to promote new cell growth and turnover.

  • Don’t pick!

We know the urge to peel or pick at your loose skin after a chemical peel is tempting but DON’T do it! When you interfere with your skin’s natural shedding process, it can lead to infections and scarring. So…DON’T!

  •  Don’t stress your skin out

Just like stress isn’t good for you, it isn’t good for your skin either! Give your skin some time to heal and don’t stress it out by rushing into another skin treatment too soon. We recommend waiting a minimum of 1-2 weeks before performing another chemical peel or skincare treatment.  

Looking for the best products to give your freshly peeled skin the much needed TLC it deserves? Follow our chemical peel aftercare dos and don’ts above and be sure to nourish your skin with the best skincare products for before and after a chemical peel from Medpeel!

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