Even if you stay on top of your skincare regimen and use plenty of sunscreen, there may come a time when your skin starts to get damaged by its constant exposure to the sun. When your skin is sun-damaged, you may feel like the only way to return your skin to its previous luster is to start again.
This is where a chemical peel comes into play. By applying certain chemicals to your skin, the outer layer of your skin is peeled away over the course of a couple of days. The skin that is exposed after the chemical peel is a new, beautiful layer of healthy skin. But that layer needs to be cared for because it is fresh.
Are you dealing with dry skin after chemical peel? Yeah, it happens. A lot. And it can be cause for concern. After all, you don’t want this new layer of skin to end up getting damaged like the last one.
In this article, we will look at the causes of dry skin after a chemical peel and what you can do to counter the effects of that dryness.
Why Am I Experiencing Dry Skin After Chemical Peel?
Skin dryness is a completely normal event after getting a chemical peel such as the MedPeel Glycolic Acid Peel shown above. It’s a sign that the chemicals are working to remove the upper layer of your skin.
While the word peel makes it seem like the upper layer of your skin should come off easily and cleanly, this isn’t always the case. Your skin may not peel off after a chemical peel.
This is because everyone has different skin, and the bond between the upper and lower layers of skin can vary from person to person. Some people will have their sun-damaged upper layer of skin come off relatively easily, with the young layer of skin coming out within the first couple of days.
Other people will have to deal with hyperpigmentation and the stubborn vestiges of the outer layer of skin remaining on top of the new layer. This is often when people experience skin dryness and flakiness, as they feel the upper layer of dry skin adhering to the lower layer of skin.
The dryness is caused by that upper layer slowly dying away to reveal the new layer.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the underlying layer of skin won’t also end up dehydrated after the chemical peel. This is because often the peel travels down through the outer layer of skin, and impacts a lower layer as well.
In these cases, the lower layer of skin gets slightly exposed to the chemicals, which don’t do as much damage as they would normally do. But they still take a toll on the lower level.
The damage done to this lower layer of skin typically manifests as dryness and flakiness, but it can result in other symptoms like redness and itchiness, as well.
Keep in mind that the extent of the dryness and peeling that you experience after a chemical peel is determined by the depth of the treatment. The lightest chemical peels, which include most at-home chemical peels, may not result in excessive skin dehydration, as they’ll only affect the outermost layers of skin.
Even the home-peels advertises as Extreme Peels, such as the pricey Natura Bisse Glyco Extreme Peel (which we reviewed here) would still count as a pretty “light” peel compared to a professional treatment.
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On the other hand, if you get a medium or deep chemical peel from a professional, you can expect to deal with skin dryness for a longer period of time.
Some of the deepest chemical peels can leave you with symptoms like dryness for a few months, which can get rather unpleasant.
Medium and deep chemical peels are serious procedures that vary considerably compared to light chemical peels. Most chemical peels are in the “light” category, though medium peels are becoming more popular.
Deep peels are still relatively rare and they often require you to receive IV fluids.
How Do I Know if my Skin is Dry After a Chemical Peel?
Dry skin after a chemical peel can become apparent in a few different ways. One of the easiest ways to determine whether you’re dealing with dry skin is by looking in the mirror. Often it will be plain as day!
However, dry skin won’t always be visible.
Sometimes, you’ll have to rely on how your skin feels to see whether you’re suffering from dryness. One of the most common signs that your skin is unhealthily dry is when it feels much tighter than usual, to the point that it feels like it may split if you stretch it out too much (which you shouldn’t).
Other signs that you’re suffering from dry skin when you get a chemical peel include flakiness, with little bits of your skin falling off periodically throughout the day.
You can expect to deal with this symptom even if your skin isn’t too dry, as it’s a pretty standard part of the peeling process. It is pretty similar to what happens after microneedling.
Finally, you may notice that you have bits of dead skin still stuck on your face, and this is an expected outcome of a chemical peel. This should subside within a week, depending on how deep your chemical peel procedure was.
How to Reduce Skin Dryness After a Chemical Peel
If you’re sick of your skin being dry and flaky after getting a chemical peel performed, you may be wondering if there’s any way you can reduce the dryness. Unfortunately, in most cases, the dryness won’t subside until your skin has had the time to recover on its own.
This is because your skin is slowly rebuilding itself after being chemically peeled.
Using additional products to try and restore hydration to your skin may end up doing more harm than good. This is due to the sensitivity of your skin after getting a chemical peel and how you can expect it to react to skin products.
Even though you typically don’t want to agitate your skin too much after you get a chemical peel, there are a few things that you can do to help alleviate some of the dryness.
While these things won’t completely rehydrate your skin, they will put it in a position where it can recover more easily.
Here are some of the things you can do to hydrate your skin and make it healthier after you get a chemical peel:
- Drink plenty of water
- Steam your face gently
- Use a neutral moisturizer
- Consider a Serum like the Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate
- Keep your hair back
- Don’t touch your skin
- Avoid makeup and spray tanning for a few days until the dryness is gone
Staying Hydrated After a Chemical Peel
If you’re expecting your skin to get rehydrated after a chemical peel, then it won’t happen if you aren’t hydrated yourself. As always, the first step to remaining properly hydrated is to ensure that you’re drinking enough water each day.
If you don’t normally drink enough water, you’ll want to make sure that you do so during this time, as it’s crucial.
You’ll also want to avoid doing things that will leave you dehydrated while your skin is healing after getting a chemical peel. You should cut down on exercise that will make you sweat profusely and if you have to keep up with your exercise routine, drink more water than you usually do.
Use a Neutral Moisturizer
The exact kind of moisturizing routine that you have to use after getting a chemical peel depends on the recommendations of your doctor, or of the at-home peel you choose. Always follow a medical professional’s advice when determining how you’re going to care for your skin after a deep peel, but you’ll typically want to use a neutral moisturizer.
Avoid using more aggressive moisturizers on your skin after a chemical peel, as they may end up causing a stinging sensation, and this is a sign that your skin is being damaged. When using moisturizer after a chemical peel, be sure to apply it gently in layers instead of rubbing it into your skin.
Keeping Your Hair Back
When you’re going about your day-to-day life after a chemical peel, you’ll want to ensure that you manage your hair properly, if you have long hair. Pull your hair back and keep it in a ponytail for the majority of the day to make sure that it doesn’t come into contact with your sensitive skin too frequently.
This is essential while sleeping, as the last thing you want is your skin getting damaged by your hair while you’re turning over in bed.
Avoid Touching Your Skin
While it may be difficult to avoid doing so when your skin is peeling and flaking, you’ll want to avoid touching it as much as possible. You’ll certainly want to avoid peeling off dead skin on your own, but even probing your skin gently can end up causing damage to the young skin that’s just being exposed.
If you use your fingers to remove dead skin after a chemical peel, you run the risk of leaving scars behind when the treatment process is over.