The Best Moisturizers To Use After A Chemical Peel, According To A Dermatologist

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Chemical peels — whether done at home or in the dermatologist's office — will make your skin more sensitive than usual. Since your body starts creating new skin after your procedure, you're going to need to take extra-good care of it in the weeks following your treatment. According to dermatologist Dr. Noelani González, who spoke to Elite Daily for this article, the best moisturizers after a chemical peel contain nourishing and hydrating ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin.

The Expert

Dr. Noelani González, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a board-certified dermatologist. She holds degrees from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, she completed her dermatology residency at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

How To Care For Your Skin After A Chemical Peel

After a chemical peel, you’ll want to "stay away from any exfoliating ingredients, retinols, or other acids, such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid," says Dr. González. Stick to gentle skin care products in general by only using basic cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreen to hydrate and protect the incoming skin. To help you figure out which products are safe to use on your extra-delicate skin, look for words like “calming,” “soothing,” and “nourishing on the label.

What To Expect After A Chemical Peel

Though it all depends on the type of chemical peel you have done, Dr. González says most people should expect some redness, stinging, and peeling afterwards. For superficial to medium-depth chemical peels, peeling will last for about three to seven days; for deeper chemical peels, the peeling and redness will most likely last longer.

Shop The Best Moisturizers To Use After A Chemical Peel

  1. The Overall Best: Eau Thermale Avène XeraCalm A.D
  2. Best Budget Moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  3. Best Lightweight Moisturizer: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra
  4. Best Gel-Cream: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream
  5. Best Moisturizer With Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Daily
The Overall Best Moisturizer For After A Chemical Peel

If you're wondering how to care for your skin after a chemical peel, start by applying Avène's XeraCalm A.D moisturizer daily. It's designed for people with eczema, atopic dermatitis, or generally dry, itchy, irritated skin, so it's an ideal moisturizer for using post-procedure. The 100% sterile formula, which is enriched with soothing thermal spring water and the emollient glycerin, contains no fragrance, parabens, or preservatives, and comes in an airless, pump-top bottle that prevents contaminants from getting inside. Also, it boasts the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association — another good sign that it's a super-gentle choice for irritated skin.

Relevant review: “Instantly cured my redness, dehydration, peeling, excess oiliness, and acne, with the first use. Two weeks and it’s only getting better. I’m glowing and healed, even toned and smooth skinned, and need less makeup. It’s great for night because it is not too greasy or heavy, but still very thick and hydrating. And it also creates a perfect base for my foundation. It is a miracle.”

Best Budget Moisturizer

This is another great moisturizer for post-procedure skin, but it comes in a massive, 19-ounce tub and costs about half the price as XeraCalm. Formulated with barrier-strengthening ceramides, hydrating glycerin, and moisture-attracting hyaluronic acid, it's a fragrance-free, oil-free, hypoallergenic cream that, like XeraCalm, boasts the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance. You can use this from your head to your toes, too (and you may as well, given the amount of product you'll be getting).

Relevant review: “I recently got prescribed Retin-A for adult acne (insert eye roll), and although it drastically improved my skin, it left me with [painful] dry patches [...] After about a week of using this lotion, my dry patches were completely gone! It moisturized my skin without irritating it, an amazing feat given how sensitive my skin is with the retin-A treatment. I've now been using this product for two months, still consistently moisturizes and has not caused any breakouts, even though it goes on pretty thick. Cannot recommend enough!”

Best Lightweight Moisturizer

If you prefer lighter-weight creams and lotions, or if you're looking for a daily moisturizer to use during summer, go with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra. It doesn't contain any potential irritants (like added fragrances, parabens, or bad alcohols), but it does contain lots of good-for-skin nourishers like glycerin, squalane, shea butter, and thermal spring water. Like XeraCalm, this is packaged in an airtight container that won't let in any contaminants.

Relevant review: “This is a HG for me now. I’ve never been able to tolerate vitamin A or C, peels and any acids. I’m able to use them now if I use this cream after. My barrier is still great. [...] I wish I found this years ago.”

Best Gel-Cream

Love the refreshing, slightly cooling feel you get from gel creams? Then Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Gel Cream will be a real treat for your post-procedure skin. Made with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, it's noncomedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free, so it's a great choice for dry, sensitive, and oily skin alike. Pro tip: If you're dealing with burning or stinging, amp up the cooling effect even further by storing this in the fridge.

Relevant review: “My daughter is currently on Accutane. It’s incredibly drying. This has been literally a lifesaver. It really has been the only thing that has kept her skin from flaking off. It also doesn’t break her out. She has incredibly sensitive skin in this is one of the few products that haven’t given us any issues. [...] Great price on Amazon. Will definitely buy again and again.”

Best Moisturizer With Sunscreen

Dr. González stressed the importance of "rigorous" sunscreen application after getting a chemical peel. And this one, from derm-favorite brand EltaMD, was formulated specifically for post-procedure skin, so it'll be perfect. (That said, check with your doctor before going out into the sun after your peel, as some can make your skin more photosensitive than others.) EltaMD UV Daily is a mineral-based sunscreen with SPF 40 that's enriched with hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated throughout the day. It's free of parabens, fragrance, and other common irritants, and it's noncomedogenic and non-greasy as well.

Relevant review: “I have been using this product for a long time. It was originally recommended by my dermatologist for use after glycolic peels. A great daily SPF for the face. I have sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts, but this sunblock/moisturizer is perfect for me.”


Dr. Noelani González, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist and Exuviance Brand Partner

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