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Every Skincare And Makeup Product To Use After Cosmetic Procedures
After a skin treatment or facial procedure, your skin may be in a compromised state. As a result, it requires specific care and attention that is different from what you use daily. This is true of both skincare and makeup. Due to the vulnerability of the skin — plus redness, inflammation, scarring, and more — it's best to switch over to post-treatment-approved products for the initial healing process. Read on to better understand what your skin needs post-op and the best products to bolster your recovery process.
Take a Gentle Approach
After a cosmetic treatment, procedure, or facial plastic surgery, there is always a specialized skincare regimen (depending on the chosen procedure) that your provider will advise you to follow. Often, that protocol will focus on reinforcing the natural protective barrier of skin by using a nourishing moisturizer and a gentle cleanser, says Michele Green, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York City. “This is particularly important because many cosmetic procedures involve inducing collagen production in the skin through targeted and controlled trauma,” she says. Whether the modality is a chemical peel or a skin-resurfacing laser, Dr. Green explains that it’s normal for the skin to become sensitive and more delicate after treatment.
For this reason alone, it's imperative to restore the skin barrier and ‘nurse’ it back to health. Encouraging restorative healing on just-treated skin will allow it to rebound quicker and for the results to be that much better. However, after a heavy-duty treatment or undergoing plastic surgery of any type is not the time to start experimenting with new products. Plus, there are plenty of ingredients that you'll want to steer clear of until your doctor gives you the green light (usually one week or so depending on the procedure and how the skin is healing) to resume using them. Those actives include:
- Retinol & Retinoids: For as much good as retinol and retinoids do, the one time you want to stay away from the vitamin A derivatives at all costs is after anything invasive. Some providers advocate for using retinol to help speed up the exfoliation process post-treatment, but this needs to be done carefully and under strict supervision.
- Anti-Acne Ingredients: Those who regularly use anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide should not use them (or any other blemish fighters) until the skin fully heals because acids and other potent actives can further compromise and dry out the skin.
- Vitamin C: Some skin types are inherently sensitized by vitamin C, depending on the concentration and source, which is why many experts suggest laying off of it in the days following a procedure.
That same approach to mindful TLC goes for cleansing, too. Even after a treatment, you’ll still want to partake in regular cleansing to help lift away dead skin. Post-procedure cleansing should always consist of calming ingredients and be free of fragrance. Also, stay away from acids, anti-acne ingredients, and grainy exfoliators.
Build Back Up the Barrier
Perhaps the most essential element of ensuring the skin heals efficiently is to protect and restore the skin barrier (i.e. the delicate layer of defensive skin). “This will help best protect skin from bacteria and other environmental irritants that may interfere with the healing process,” Dr. Green explains.
Adhering to a relatively strict post-treatment protocol for more invasive treatments like ablative lasers, deep chemical peels, and even surgery is crucial for healthy healing, too. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons often recommend thick occlusive ointments to help restore the barrier and mitigate irritation and inflammation, which are known to cause hyperpigmentation and other reactions. Then, once your doctor sees improvement, it's usually time to switch to a more traditional moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and/or ceramides.
Depending on the treatment and the patient, there may be some slight modifications to this protocol. For example, Jason Emer, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, says that petrolatum-based ointments aren’t always great to use post-laser because they keep heat in the skin and retain redness. “So, now, instead, we’re using a lot of growth factors in my practice to repair the barrier along with hyaluronic acid and even vitamin C,” he shares.
Remember, the point of a non-ablative resurfacing treatment, like a light laser or microneedling, is to access deeper layers of skin to deliver supercharged active ingredients. “Flooding those channels with occlusives kind of defeats the purpose, which is another reason why I don’t like occlusives so much,” he explains.
As an alternative to thick occlusive agents, hyaluronic acid may be a good stand-in. Since it’s a humectant, it has the ability to draw moisture into the skin and restore hydration levels. “This is beneficial for skin health and helps aid in the healing process after having a cosmetic treatment," Dr. Green says. Another important component? It is non-comedogenic. “It won't clog or congest the pores as some moisturizers may do to oily skin types, which is why it works wonders for oily skin types — and all skin types — post-treatment," she adds.