How to Prepare for a Chemical Peel
Getting a chemical peel for the first time? You’ve come to the right place. Below, we’re sharing details on what to expect and how to prepare for your peel.
WHAT IS A CHEMICAL PEEL, ANYWAY?
If you’ve already committed to a chemical peel, chances are you’ve done your research, but in case you haven’t, here’s a quick primer: A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes the top layers to exfoliate and eventually peel off. (Sounds scary, we know, but there are benefits!) The new skin is typically smoother and more younger-looking, which is why it’s commonly performed to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, skin discoloration, and scars on the face, neck or hands. Other perks include brightened skin—no complaints there—that can breathe and say “ahh” thanks to the removal of pore-clogging buildup. But not all peels are created equal. There are many different types of peels catered to various sensitivity levels—some stronger, some less so—in order to provide positive results and keep complications at bay. Some acids that may be used include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, retinoic acid and lactic acid. Chat with your esthetician about which peel is right for you.
HOW TO PREPARE
To prepare for a peel, you’re going to have to go on a break from a few products and treatments, at least for a little while. One week before the peel, avoid electrolysis, waxing and/or other depilatory hair removal products or methods. In the days leading up to the peel (48 hours), avoid using abrasive scrubs, exfoliates, facial masks, self-tanners, bleaching or skin-lightening agents, or prescription skin care products, like Retin-A, Differein, Tazorac, or benzoyl peroxide. Also, it’s crucial to consistently use broad-spectrum sunscreen—shop our favorite picks for all skin types, here—and avoid unprotected sun exposure at least four weeks prior to the procedure to help prevent irregular pigmentation in treatment areas, according to the Mayo Clinic.
After a chemical peel, wait at least one day to apply makeup to the treatment area. Skin may feel slightly irritated; use ice packs or the breeze from a fan for comfort. Over-the-counter pain-relieving medication may also help reduce any discomfort. After a glycolic peel, avoid direct sun exposure without an SPF of at least 30. And lastly, if you’ve been prescribed a topical treatment from your esthetician, wait 48-72 hours before using it.
For the most detailed instructions on before-and-after care, always consult with your esthetician.