Day by Day Chemical Peel Recovery

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on April 1, 2024

All about the day by day chemical peel recovery. Let’s go through every stage of the process and explain what you can expect + see some actual, real-life examples on real people.

day by day chemical peel recovery

Image source: Instagram @needles_with_nina_rn

Chemical peels remove the outlet layer(s) of the skin. The peeling agents destroy the substances that hold dead skin cells and cause shedding.

The intensity of the side effects and the flaking depends on the intensity of the peel. Chemical peels can be:

  • Light – only the upper layers of the epidermis are affected
  • Medium-depth – the epidermis and sometimes the upper layer of the dermis are affected
  • Deep – deeper layers of the dermis are affected. This is an intense treatment and the only version which entails actual downtime.

The stronger the peel is, the more flaking there will be.

Deep peels entail a strict care routine and may require you to stay home for a few days. With light and medium-depth peels, you can go business as usual, with some adjustments to your routine.

The flaking is what scares clients most about chemical peels, but we’re here to assure you it’s nothing to be afraid of.

So we’ve prepared a detailed guide on the day-by-day chemical peel process, along with pictures and tips on how to care for your skin at every stage.

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What’s Chemical Peel Recovery Like?

It’s really not as bad as it’s portrayed to be.

Your skin will go through some initial side effects like redness, mild irritation potentially some swelling.

The peeling will start within 48-72 hours after the treatment. An extensive case study by a group of dermatologists has concluded that the peeling, or desquamation as it’s called in medicine, will last for 1 to 3 days for superficial peels and 5 to 10 days for medium to deep peels.

According to Dr Martha Rendon and her associates, The exfoliative effect of chemical peels stimulates new epidermal growth and collagen with more evenly distributed melanin. So new, better skin will be revealed underneath.

Chemical Peel Recovery Time

In general, the chemical peel healing time lasts up to 14 days. Depending on the intensity of the peel, it can end sooner, but it’s important to follow the aftercare instructions for the full 2 weeks.

The initial side effects will likely go away sooner, but the recovery processes which we don’t see also need time.

Light chemical peel recovery time may be as short as 7 days. Deep chemical peel recovery time can last much longer than the 2-week mark, for example, redness can last for weeks or even months.

Day by Day Chemical Peel Recovery

The first stage of the chemical peel healing process implies minor side effects which some clients don’t even experience. Then, the peeling stage can be expected around day 3, and it lasts for up to 5 days. Finally, all the affected skin flakes off and you’re left with glowing, improved skin.

But let’s go through each stage of healing chemical peel day by day.

Day 1 – Some Redness and Possible Frosting

Redness is a common side effect of a chemical peel. For the rest of the day after your chemical peel, you can expect the skin to look flushed – this is completely normal. If you have plans for the day, you can go through with them as long as you keep the treated area away from sunlight.

Certain types of chemical peels cause the so-called frosting effect – you will get white patches on your skin and it’ll look a bit weird.

Sensations of light tingling, aching or throbbing are common.

On the other hand, there are also peels with a prolonged effect, where the peeling agent isn’t removed at the end of the appointment, but rather left on for a few extra hours and you’re supposed to wash it off at some point.

In the case of deep peels, a protective dressing may be applied and you might be instructed to spend the rest of the day at home.

How to Care for Your Skin

In general, you’ll be instructed not to do anything to your skin for a while, let’s say 6 hours. After that, you’ll probably need to wash the skin with cool to lukewarm water only – no cleanser – and moisturize it generously with a product prescribed by your practitioner. Apply SPF on top.

If you feel any discomfort, you can probably apply a cool compress, but check with your practitioner just to be safe.

chemical peel redness and frostingImage source: Instagram @dr.mercyod

Day 2 – Some Discomfort

Your skin may still look reddish. It may start feeling dry and tight, kind of like a sunburn. Some peels may start flaking as soon as day 2, however most don’t start peeling until day 3.

How to Care for Your Skin

You can apply your moisturizer whenever your skin starts feeling tight. Wash it with cool to lukewarm water as instructed. You will probably be allowed to wear makeup, but check with your practitioner. Wear your SPF.

Day 3 – Peeling Starts

In most cases, this is the point when the skin starts flaking.

If the treated area is the face, the flaking usually starts around the mouth, as this is the part of the face that moves the most and skin starts cracking as a result. It will gradually spread outwards, and may go as far as under your jawline, into your hairline, and some flaking may even occur on your earlobes.

How to Care for Your Skin

The most important thing at this point is not picking at the flakes of skin or pulling at them. The peeling can get quite intense and your skin may slough off in large chunks, but you must refrain from ripping them off. The flakes have to fall off on their own, or you risk discoloration and scarring.

What you can do, though, is cut off the larger flakes with sterile scissors, as long as you don’t pull.

Keep washing and moisturizing the skin as instructed, but only use dabbing motions – no rubbing. Wear your SPF. Try to refrain from wearing makeup – it will make the flaking look more prominent.

chemical peel day 3 peeling of the skin startsImage source: Instagram @lookbetternakedspa

Day 4 – More Peeling

Day 4 will bring about even more flaking. For some, this is the most intense day and it can get scary. Don’t worry – large flakes are expected.

How to Care for Your Skin

The same as day 3 – no picking at the flakes, keep the skin moisturized and clean it with water. Wear your SPF.

chemical peel day 4 peeling of the skinImage source: Instagram @lookbetternakedspa

Days 5-14

The pace at which the skin peels is individual and it depends on how intense the peel was. You can expect major peeling to last for 2-5 days from when it started, and some minor peeling may be visible for a bit longer than that.

In general, you can consider your chemical peel recovery completely over around day 14.

How to Care for Your Skin

Keep up with the prescribed aftercare routine until all peeling stops. Once it does, you can go back to your normal routine more or less, but keep wearing SPF for an additional few weeks. The protective barrier for your skin has been compromised and it’s very susceptible to sun damage.

Your Skin After the Chemical Peel Recovery

Once all of the dead skin is shed, the skin revealed underneath will be smoother, more even in tone, look younger, clearer and glowing. Its texture has been improved.

How significant an improvement you get depends on the intensity of the peel.

If you haven’t achieved the desired results yet, you can get another session after a few weeks, depending on how intense the last peel was.

chemical peel recovery skin appearanceImage source: Instagram @mbhwellnessclinic


The day by day chemical peel recovery process can vary significantly from person to person. The timeline and the descriptions of the stages may differ in your case.

Body Chemical Peel Healing Process

Skin treated with a chemical peel goes through the same day by day chemical peel recovery cycle regardless of where on the body it is. Back peels, hand or foot peels, even buttock peels all have the same process as a facial peel.

The skin can be reddish right after the treatment, then it calms down for a day or 2, and then the flaking starts. It will last for a few days, and new skin is revealed underneath. The flaking can last 2-5 days, depending on how intense the peel was.

body chemical peel healing processImage source: Instagram @rawrituale

Chemical Peel Aftercare

During the healing process, you need to keep up with the aftercare routine to make sure your skin heals the way it’s supposed to and to relieve the side effects.

The chemical peel aftercare routine is relatively simple – you have to wash the treated area in a specific way, keep it generously moisturized, and covered with a layer of SPF at all times.

It’s essential you let the peeling cycle end naturally, meaning it’s forbidden to pick at the skin at any stage of the healing process.

You can learn everything you need to know about the chemical peeling aftercare routine here.

How Much Peeling Is Normal During Chemical Peel Recovery?

This is a difficult question to answer, because there are so many types of chemical peels with different acid concentrations. Plus, everyone’s skin is different and reacts differently.

You should know that it’s normal to get intense peeling, but it’s also possible to get very little to no peeling (this doesn’t mean the treatment failed – you’ll still get all the benefits).

If you feel like something weird is going on at any point of the chemical peel healing process, contact your practitioner and send them pictures. They’ll assess the situation.

peeling during chemical peel recoveryImage source: Instagram @4yourskinglow

Day by Day Chemical Peel Recovery – Main Takeaways

The chemical peel healing time is up to 2 weeks, during which your skin will start and end the flaking cycle. In the first few days, you will probably get some redness and feel some discomfort, which can be relieved with a moisturizer. It’s crucial you stick to the prescribed aftercare routine at all stages. Different types of peels give different side effects, so your experience may deviate from the process described above.



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