There are times in our lives when our skin can use a little sprucing up. Whether we've let it get dehydrated, we're having issues with acne or we're becoming increasingly aware of fine lines and wrinkles, sometimes taking measures beyond wash, rinse and moisturize feels necessary.
A glycolic peel is the kid sister of the heavier duty chemical peels, and as a result, the healing time is much faster. But there are still some after-peel steps that will help mellow the irritation. Here are five ways to soothe your skin after a glycolic peel.
The purpose of a chemical peel is to remove layers of skin, so it can be super tempting to start picking off the flakes as your skin starts to peel. Doctor's orders are to do everything you can to resist this urge. Your skin is in its most sensitive state after a peel, so not only do you run the risk of scarring, you may also heighten the possibility of infection. Be sure to keep your bacteria-laden fingers off your face while the peel does its job.
Typically, glycolic peels are mild enough that you shouldn't have a ton of discomfort. But if your face feels a little raw, a cool compress may help soothe your irritated skin. You don't need anything fancy to make a compress -- all you need is a soft cotton cloth dampened with cool water and applied to the sore areas. Do this intermittently until your skin starts to calm down.
A day or two after your peel you should start washing your face twice a day. It's important that you keep anything off your face that could potentially irritate your skin, so if your normal washing regime contains any retinoic acid, like Retin-A, or acne products, like benzoyl peroxide, it's advised to stop using those until you've healed. A mild soap and warm water is your best bet. However, if your glycolic peel was done by a doctor, be sure to follow his or her instructions for washing.
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do after a glycolic peel is to keep your face well-moisturized. Peels leave your skin vulnerable to cracking and drying out, which can lead to scarring. Just like with your face wash, it's important to use a moisturizer that's free of anti-aging or anti-acne chemicals to avoid further irritation. For heavy chemical peels, many doctors recommend using petroleum jelly while your skin heals, but for less invasive peels, a soothing lotion free of known irritants should do the trick.
Skip the Sun
Doctors recommend avoiding the sun completely until your skin has healed, which should take a minimum of a couple of weeks. Glycolic peels help take care of brown spots, which are usually caused by sun and aging, and exposing your freshly peeled skin to the sun could not only cause more brown spots but also blotchy red spots that could become permanent. Once you're back in the sun, be sure to apply a high-SPF lotion liberally and regularly.
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- "Chemical Peeling: What to Expect Before, During, and After." Skincarephysicians.com. August 13, 2012. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/chemical_peeling_expect.html
- Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. "The Best Ways to Care For My Face After A Chemical Peel." Livestrong.com. June 14, 2011. http://www.livestrong.com/article/254871-the-best-ways-to-care-for-my-face-after-a-chemical-peel/
- Karimi, Sabah. "Glycolic Peel Basics: How to Take Care of Skin Post-Peel." Dailyglow.com. August 13, 2012. http://www.dailyglow.com/glycolic-peel-basics-how-to-take-care-of-skin-post-peel-1.html