How to Get Ready for a Chemical Peel
Chemical peels are popular cosmetic dermatology treatments that can yield several benefits for various skin types. When performed properly by a certified practitioner, a peel can reduce hyperpigmentation, even out skin tone, mitigate shallow wrinkles and lines, fade mild scars, and stimulate collagen production. As such, receiving a chemical peel every 6-8 weeks can make skin appear brighter, firmer, and more youthful.
That said, chemical peels, as their name implies, contain chemicals. If your skin isn’t properly prepared to endure this procedure, you may end up damaging it. At the very least, you might be disappointed with the results. Taking the time to get your skin ready for a chemical peel will help ensure that you get the most out of this cosmetic process. Here’s how to prepare for a chemical peel.
Start Preparing At Least Two Weeks in Advance
The earlier you begin preparing your skin for your peel, the better. By getting at least a two-week head start using professional products, your skin will have a smoother, more even surface, and therefore be more receptive to acid penetration. However, while you want to start preparing at least two weeks in advance, you’ll want to stop using certain products within 3-5 days of receiving treatment, which we will discuss further below.
How to Prepare for Milder, Hydroxy Acid Peels
Chemical peels vary in composition and strength. Your preparation regimen should be based on the type of peel you plan on undergoing, as well as your skin type. Let’s go over how to prepare for mild hydroxy acid peels, such as glycolic, mandelic, salicylic, or lactic peels:
- Use an Acid-Based Cleanser: applying professional acid-based cleansers twice per day can help thin the stratum corneum (i.e. the skin’s outer layer), which will result in a more effective, evenly distributed treatment.
- Follow Up With an Antioxidant: antioxidant serums can even skin tone and facilitate skin cell regeneration.
- Wear Sunscreen Before and After Chemical Peel: you should wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 40 regardless of whether or not you’re preparing for a peel, as these products protect your skin from sun damage.
- Use an Acid Serum: applying one of these serums before bed helps exfoliate any dead skin cells as you prepare for your chemical face peel.
Preparing for a Stronger Chemical Peel
More powerful peels, such as TCA peels or Jessners, require more rigorous prep in conjunction with the steps laid out above. The steps outlined below are also useful for those with darker skin or severe pigmentation issues:
- Use Retinoids: products containing retinol can thin dead skin, provide a pre-treatment for pigmentation problems, boost collagen production, and aid in skin healing
- Apply Melanin Inhibitors Before Retinoids: people with dark skin and/or hyperpigmentation should use melanin inhibitors twice per day at a minimum 2 weeks prior to a chemical peel and ideally 4-6 weeks beforehand — these products slow down melanin production, helping the skin maintain a more even tone and color
Additional Steps and Precautions Before Peels
Whether you’re receiving a milder or stronger chemical peel, here are some additional ways to get ready:
- Apply a patch test to check for allergies before using any acid-based products
- Start any prescriptions for herpes simplex prior to your peel to stave off breakouts
- Hold off on using any abrasive skin products a few days before your peel
- Avoid shaving or waxing within 24 hours of receiving a chemical peel
- Make sure you’re well-hydrated, especially the day of your treatment
As always, if you have additional questions or concerns regarding chemical peels, how to prepare for them, what to do afterward, etc., consult with your dermatologist. The cosmetic experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can give you the information you’re looking for as well.
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