Chemical Peel Pre & Post-Care Instructions

Pre-Care: Things you should know BEFORE you peel


In order to provide you with the best possible service, we ask that you carefully review these general pre-care treatment instructions for a chemical peel treatment so that you fully understand them.  If you have any questions about these instructions, please discuss them with your skincare expert prior to treatment.  To obtain maximum benefits from your treatment, it is crucial that you understand and adhere to these instructions.  Failure to comply with these instructions may affect your treatment outcome and increase the likelihood or severity of complications.  Depending on your individual needs, additional pre-care treatment instructions may be given to you.

  • Please be candid in revealing any conditions that could prohibit your treatment such as the use of Accutane in the past 6 months, pregnancy or breastfeeding, history of photosensitivity, autoimmune disease, or connective tissue disorder.  Patients with certain medical conditions may be asked to provide a letter from their primary care physician or specialist stating that it is safe to undergo chemical peel treatments.
  • Discuss with your skincare expert your medical history, medications, allergies, skin type, and any tendency for scarring, keloid, or poor healing.  Also, let your provider know if you have a history of cold sores, so that a prescription for an antiviral medication can be given to avoid a cold sore outbreak.
  • Do NOT use any acidic products or irritants to your skin, such as retinoids or tretinoins, acne medication products such as Retin-AⓇ, TazoracⓇ, RenovaⓇ, AtralinⓇ, ZianaⓇ, DifferinⓇ, VeltinⓇ, the antibiotic Doxycycline, AHAs (glycolic, lactic, tartaric, etc.), BHAs (salicylic), benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C products, lightening agents such as hydroquinone or any exfoliative products including loofahs or coarse sponges to your skin for 1 week prior to your chemical peel.  These medications and products increase your photosensitivity, which can significantly increase the likelihood of complications.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure of any kind as well as tanning beds and self-tanning to the planned treatment areas for 4 weeks prior to treatment.  A tan can produce a burn to the skin and can result in hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) as well as hypopigmentation (skin lightening).  We recommend that you discontinue the practice of tanning due to the increased risk of skin cancer and aging.
  • Do NOT tweeze, wax, use a depilatory, or undergo electrolysis in the areas you wish to have treated for 1 week before treatment.
  • Avoid Botulinum Toxin Type A (BotoxⓇ) and dermal filler injections on or around the treatment area(s) for 1 week prior to treatment, unless otherwise approved by your healthcare provider.
  • If you have an active cold sore or skin infection the day of your treatment, please call our office to reschedule your appointment.  If you have open lesions, active cold sores, or facial dermatitis, you are not a good candidate for the peel until complete resolution.
  • Bring a large brimmed hat or umbrella and a pair of sunglasses to block the sun for your trip home.
  • Please arrive to your appointment with the treatment area(s) fully cleaned and free of makeup.
  • Do NOT apply any creams, lotions, aftershave, cologne, or perfumes the day of the appointment to the planned treatment area(s). 
  • Avoid shaving the treatment area the day of the appointment.
  • With the deeper of the superficial peels or with mid-level peels, there is downtime for which one should plan. The day the peel is administered is Peel Day 1. Peeling typically begins around Peel Day 3 with the worst of the peeling usually occurring around Peel Day 4 & 5.  Expect that skin will be dry and irritated with some extent of peeling from Day 3-7.  
  • Some patients may not feel that skin is getting totally back to normal until Day 10.  Because of this, we ask that you don’t schedule your peel within 14 days of an event.  Plan wisely.
  • We find that Wednesday evening or Thursday appointments are great for patients that plan on “staying in for the weekend” to allow the peel to work its magic out of the public’s eye.  

Post-Chemical Peel Care


In order to provide you with the best possible service, we ask that you carefully review these general post-care treatment instructions for a chemical peel treatment so that you fully understand them.  If you have any questions about these instructions, please discuss them with us.  To obtain maximum benefits from your treatment, it is crucial that you understand and adhere to these instructions.  Failure to comply with these instructions may affect your treatment outcome and increase the likelihood or severity of complications.  Depending on your individual needs, additional post-care treatment instructions may be given.

  • The peeling may take anywhere from 7-10 days on average or longer depending on internal and external factors such as skin type, age, weather, lifestyle, and hormones.  Slight redness and skin sensitivity and flaking can occur as your treatment eliminates dead surface skin cells.  Each treatment may vary.  Other areas of the body will react differently because your skin has a different texture on your face and scalp than on your chest, back, arms, and legs.  The healing process may take longer in those areas.
  • Your skin may take on a rough, patchy, darkened quality a few days after this treatment.  This is normal and expected and it will resolve on its own.  The first areas to peel are usually around the nose and mouth, but can begin anywhere.  Most people begin peeling on the 3rd or 4th day after treatment.  It is also possible to not peel at all.  If this occurs, you will still benefit from the treatment because the skin has exfoliated microscopically.
  • Possible side effects include but are not limited to: mild to extreme redness, temporary tightness, itching, swelling, and dryness of the skin similar to a sunburn or windburn.  This will usually subside in 2-3 days.  A prescription of hydrocortisone, or over-the-counter hydrocortisone (Vanicream HCⓇ) may be recommended if the skin is inflamed or irritated.  Those who received The Perfect Derma Peel will be given a post-care kit with such cream included.
  • You may GENTLY apply a cold compress to the treated area(s) as needed for any burning or irritation associated with your treatment.
  • Make sure to avoid excessive heat on the treated area and direct sun exposure of any kind, as well as tanning beds and self-tanners to the treated areas for 4 weeks after treatment.
  • Do NOT engage in strenuous exercise for 2-3 days after treatment because it may exacerbate the inflammatory response and can cause your skin to become extremely inflamed.
  • Sweating excessively after treatment can irritate the skin or cause blistering due to the sweat being unable to escape through the top layer of dead skin.  Try to avoid sweating until after you have stopped peeling to avoid lifting the skin prematurely, as this can cause scarring.
  • Do NOT use any acidic products such as retinoids or tretinoins, acne medication products such as Retin-AⓇ, TazoracⓇ, RenovaⓇ, AtralinⓇ, ZianaⓇ, VeltinⓇ, DifferinⓇ, the antibiotic Doxycycline, AHAs (lactic, glycolic, tartaric, etc.), BHAs (salicylic), benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C products, lightening agents such as hydroquinone or any exfoliative products including loofahs or coarse sponges to your skin for 2 weeks after your chemical peel, or more if you notice your skin becomes sensitive to application.  These medications and products increase your photosensitivity, which can significantly increase the likelihood of complications.
  • Do NOT tweeze, pick, rub, exfoliate, wax, use a depilatory, undergo electrolysis, or schedule a facial or cosmetic service such as laser resurfacing, or IPL on a treated area(s) for 4 weeks after your treatment.  To reduce the risk of scarring, you do not want to remove the dry, rough, dead skin faster than your body wants to.  HANDS OFF!
  • Do NOT get your hair dyed until a week after you have finished peeling, if your treatment was performed on the face or neck.  For most people, week 3 post-peel is the best time to have your hair color treated.
  • This procedure can stimulate cold sores.  If you have an outbreak after your treatment, please call the office to inquire about obtaining a prescription.  

How to Care for your Skin Post-Peel

  • Cleanse Gently:  Your skin may be fragile for 5-7 days.  Cleanse your skin with COOL water (hot water will cause inflammation to the skin) using only your fingertips – no washcloths, loofahs, buff puffs, sponges, ClarisonicⓇ, etc.  We recommend using SkinMedica regular Facial Cleanser or their Sensitive Cleanser specifically.  Other mild cleansers may be used—MILD only.
  • Moisturize Often:  Letting the skin dry out may cause discomfort.  We recommend using SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream to help your skin recover.  For strong peels, you may use Aquaphor for the first few days or as needed on sensitive areas that are peeling. When you start to peel, use a moisturizer until the skin feels back to normal.  This will promote the healing process by locking in moisture and reducing the chance of a bacterial infection, redness, and irritation.  Use these products several times per day or as needed.  Topical hydrocortisone may be recommended, depending on your specific needs.  Perfect Derma Peel patients will be dismissed with a specific moisturizer for post-care use.
  • If you were administered The Perfect DermaPeel, then your post-peel kit (supplied to you at the end of your session at no additional charge) has a set of included and very detailed directions that will help you all along the way. Please be sure to read each step in the patient take home booklet & follow the recommendations. **It is essential to use both Post Peel towelettes at home. It is equally important to use plenty of SPF beginning Day 2 (the first day following the peel as the day of the peel is Peel Day 1) & to use the post peel moisturizer once the peeling begins.
  • Protect Your Skin:  Heat and sun exposure can cause inflammation to the skin.  Remember to avoid excessive heat on the treated area and direct sun exposure of any kind, as well as tanning bed sand self-tanners to the planned treatment areas for 4 weeks after treatment.  If you need to be outdoors, make sure to use an umbrella or wear a large-brimmed hat, a pair of sunglasses, and use a physical sunblock (containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).  We recommend using SkinMedica’s Essential Defense Mineral Shield to provide broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.  Apply 30 minutes before exposure and reapply often (about every 2 hours) when exposed to the sun.  Other sunscreen products may be recommended depending on your specific needs.
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