Chemical peels are a popular form of at-home and supervised cosmetic treatment. They provide a comparatively quick and intense method of chemical exfoliation that can renew the skin’s appearance. Peels are most often used for helping to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as evening out any unwelcome blemishes. For all their utility, peels do come with an immediately obvious downside: the peeling. Peeling skin never looks or feels attractive to any of us. Naturally, we want the peeling to be over and done with as quickly as possible. That leads some of us to try to do things we might not otherwise consider to accelerate the peeling process. Not all ideas are equal though. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at if you can even speed up peeling after a chemical peel and get to looking our best sooner rather than later.
The Short Answer
No. There is no actual safe way to speed up peeling after a chemical peel. Many people continually try to market options for this or to encourage ill-advised ways to accelerate the peeling process, but trying to do so goes against every bit of professional advice ever given on the subject. Your skin is peeling at that point because it is trying to heal itself from the potent chemical exfoliation. The procedure, in essence, temporarily damages upper layers of dead skin to help strip them away and expose healthier skin below. All those layers of skin have to peel off as they’re naturally shed if you expect your skin to stay healthy. They fall off as the skin cells naturally detach. Typically this will mean that they’ve been replaced enough that the skin below will be relatively safe again by the time the peeling stops. We strongly encourage against any steps taken to encourage the peeling to accelerate and cannot stress enough that trying to do so is a bad idea.
As we highlighted above, the peeling process itself is part of your skin’s natural repair cycle. You’re constantly shedding dead skin cells every day and don’t notice it because of the size of the cells being shed. A chemical peel simply makes more of them come off at a time while they remain connected. The unfortunate part of that is that they remain connected to healthy skin too. While you’d typically only need to worry about this potentially leading to clogged pores, the larger strips of dead skin cells are visible and unwelcome. Tugging on them has the potential to damage healthy skin below the dead skin though. This can cause permanent physical and cosmetic damage in some cases. Additionally, the skin is sensitized until it has finished healing. That means any and all products you use to accelerate peeling may just make the damage feel or seem overall worse. Your skin must be allowed time to heal properly or you will pay for it eventually.
The thing to understand about any kind of peel is accepting that, in most cases, it is going to take roughly a week for your skin to return to normal. We all need to accept and remember this when working a peel into our schedules. Proper care after a peel can do a lot to help ensure that it heals as fast as it can and that the skin heals well. A big part of this is ensuring that the skin is appropriately moisturized. Moisturize regularly to keep the area of the peel soothed and to help maintain a moisture barrier despite the drier skin. This will help keep the area relatively resilient by comparison to how it would be without the aid. We also recommend remember to stay out of the sun for the week or so that your skin is healing. Remember that the area of the peel has temporarily lost a lot of its defenses against the sun and it will be easier for exposure to damage the area and potentially lead to another peel in the future. These tips combined with any your dermatologist recommends will help ensure you make the most of any peel.
There’s no real way to speed up the healing of your skin after a chemical peel. Your skin needs proper, gentle care to allow itself to heal properly so that your skin can look its best again. Trying to forcibly encourage the skin to peel faster by picking at the peeling skin or using further products to encourage the outcome is more likely to damage the skin. Plan your peel based on your schedule and you shouldn’t have any trouble letting it heal properly in its own time.