After laser resurfacing and peels, layering on acids and purging pores, your skin may be in need of some serious TLC. But because the outer layer has been disturbed to allow room for healthy, new cells to rise to the top, even something you may have used for years may cause a reaction. So if you are not careful, you can end up with little red bumps (dermatitis) or little white cysts (milia) from using the wrong aftercare product on your delicate post resurfaced skin. Using the wrong products or even too much of the right products can also cause serious complications and delay the healing process.
As a general rule, after most forms of laser resurfacing, you need to keep your skin moist until it heals sufficiently. Keeping skin moist encourages healing far better than letting it dry out, crack and peel. Look for products that are free of fragrances and preservatives, hypoallergenic as well as non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog your pores. Gentle formulas that are safe to use around the eyes and suitable for extremely sensitive skin are a must. You will be warned not to use abrasive exfoliating scrubs, toners, or any products containing acids such as alpha hydroxy, glycolic, or Retin-A for at least a few weeks.
According to Palm Beach Dermatologist Dr. Gary L. Marder: “If you have had an IPL treatment, there is nothing special other than sunscreen necessary. But if you have had a chemical peel or Ablative CO2 laser and are fully reepithelialized but are not 100% healed, as in still red or itchy, a very mild topical hydrocortisone cream can do wonders to stop itching, redness, swelling, and residual scarring. The cream is to be used for a short time, no more than a week, but helps heal and lets you return back to normal activities much faster than ordinary moisturizers can. In fact most moisturizers can plug up the pores of newly reepithiliazed skin, creating annoying little whiteheads (milia) that later need to be removed or treated.”
BITB polled a group of laser gurus for their top picks on what to use after the burn.
Waxelene ($80) – All natural Waxelene boasts organic ingredients for the relief of dry skin and diaper rash. This petroleum jelly alternative can be used to address common summer skin issues. Its ingredients include vitamin E oil, beeswax, organic rosemary oil, and organic soy oil to be gentle on your skin.
Avene Thermal Spring Water Soothing Serum ($34) – Featuring Avene thermal water, this light serum soothes and softens compromised skin and delivers hydration. Calming and anti-inflammatory, it helps reduce redness and irritation.
Aquaphor ($17) – Many physicians apply Aquaphor on patients immediately after a laser treatment, and before they leave the office. This multipurpose ointment helps soothe raw and tender skin, provides protection during the healing process, and creates a safe barrier that lets your skin breath. Key ingredients include glycerin, bisbolol (chamomile essence), and provitamin B5.
PCA Skin Post-Procedure Kit ($20) – Formulated by Arizona Dermatologist Jennifer Linder, MD, for skin that needs extra care in order to heal quickly, this five-product kit has everything you need to restore skin health, protect, speed healing and provide comfort. Kit includes trial sizes of Facial Wash (1 fl. oz.), ReBalance (0.25 oz.), Apres Peel Hydrating Balm (0.25 oz.), Perfecting Protection SPF 30 (0.25 oz.), and Silkcoat Balm (0.25 oz.).
Elta MD Laser Post Procedure Balm ($22) – This healing moisturizer was developed especially for use after laser procedures to keep skin moist and comfortable. “Elta MD products are ideal for post Fraxel. They calm irritation and feel great on the skin,” says New York Plastic Surgeon Bryan G. Forley.
Renee Rouleau Bio Calm Repair Masque ($49.50) – A soothing gel mask that reduces redness and relieves irritated skin from master facialist Renee Rouleau, it combines oat kernel extract, bisabolol, chamomilla recutita flower oil for anti-inflammatory, anti-redness relief, and calming effects.
JPAK Systems ($50 for a 14 day supply) – Created by Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and AAFPRS member, Dr. Andrew Jacono, JPAK SystemsTM offers two homeopathic remedies to help minimize swelling and bruising after surgery and injectable treatments, containing arnica, bromelain, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, vitamin C and zinc.
When Your Skin Screams for Sunscreen
Frequent application of sunscreen is mandatory as post lasered skin is extra fragile and ultra sensitive. Broad protection (UVA and UVB) with SPF 30 or more is the general rule. You should apply sunscreen 20-minutes before going outside, and if you will be in direct sunlight, wear a hat and protective clothing for extra benefits.
SkinCeuticals UV Defense SPF 30 ($40) – SkinCeuticals recommends this sunscreen specifically for post-procedure protection. It’s broad spectrum and contains 7% transparent zinc oxide to protect against the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays. Chances of irritation are greatly reduced thanks to encapsulation of key ingredients.
Aveeno Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50 ($10) – Offering broad spectrum protection, this sunscreen is formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which form a protective barrier against UVA/UVB rays, and soothes sensitive skin.