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When Can I Exfoliate After IPL?

If you’ve recently had an IPL (intense pulsed light) session, then you may be wondering when is the best time to start exfoliating your skin.

Exfoliating after IPL can help speed up the healing process and make sure that your skin looks its best! Keep reading to find out the answers to when can I exfoliate after IPL treatments?

Woman having IPL treatment done to her face to reduce facial hair

What Exactly Is IPL?

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a technology used for various skin treatments, including improving your skin tone and texture.

IPL is unique because it uses multiple wavelengths of light to target various conditions on your skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which can treat unwanted hair and various skin concerns.

  • Skin Rejuvenation: IPL can help with sun damagefrecklesage spots, and hyperpigmentation by targeting the melanin in the dark spots of your skin. The light causes the pigment to break up and disperse or become absorbed by the body, diminishing the appearance of the spots.
  • Collagen Production: Your skin may also benefit from increased collagen production, leading to improved laxity and fewer large pores.
  • Hair Removal: IPL isn’t just for pigmentation; it’s also used for hair removal procedures by targeting the pigment in hair follicles, which can prevent regrowth over time.
  • Treating Skin Conditions: For redness and fine vessels visible through your skin, as seen with rosacea or facial vessels, IPL can reduce the appearance of these blemishes by constricting blood vessels.

Remember that IPL is not the same as laser therapy. It is broader and less focused, making it a versatile, non-invasive option for numerous skin conditions. 

Top Benefits Of IPL Treatments

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are a popular choice for addressing various skin concerns. Here is how IPL can be beneficial for your skin.

  • Targets Sun Damage: IPL is particularly effective in diminishing the effects of sun exposure. It helps in reducing the visibility of sun spots and other related damages.
  • Boosts Collagen Production: The light energy used in IPL encourages your skin to produce more collagen. This is pivotal for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness.
  • Improves Age Spots: If you’re seeing signs of aging through age spots, IPL treatments can help in fading these areas, leading to a more even skin tone.
  • Alleviates RosaceaRosacea symptoms, which often include redness and visible blood vessels, can be alleviated through careful use of IPL therapy.
  • Diminishes Freckles: For those of you with freckles that you’d prefer to fade, IPL can gently help in lightening them.
  • Addresses Various Skin Conditions: It’s versatile and can be customized to treat a wide range of skin conditions.
  • Corrects Uneven Pigmentation: Uneven pigmentation and spots often find themselves on the losing end of an IPL treatment, yielding a more uniform skin color.

IPL is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and results can vary based on individual skin types.

Important Aftercare Tips After Having IPL Done

Important Aftercare Tips After Having IPL Done

After you’ve undergone Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment, it is essential to follow proper aftercare to ensure a smooth recovery and to achieve the best possible outcome.

Here are some tips to help you through the healing process:

Sun Protection:

Gentle Skin Care:

  • Wash your face and any treated areas with a gentle cleanser, using lukewarm water; avoid hot showers, hot baths, or hot tubs.
  • Resist the temptation to pick or scratch at your skin if flaking occurs.

Minimize Irritation:

  • Do not exfoliate the area or use products containing irritants like retinols, tretinoin, or certain acids for at least 7-10 days post-treatment.
  • Keep your skin moisturized with a fragrance-free, hydrating cream to soothe any redness or swelling.

Managing Discomfort:

  • If you experience discomfort resembling a mild sunburn, consider using cool compresses for relief.
  • Steer clear of activities that can cause excessive heat or sweat, such as exercise, for the first 48 hours.

Ongoing Care:

  • Continue to hydrate well by drinking plenty of water to maintain skin hydration.
  • Avoid waxing, tweezing, or using depilatory products on the treated area until it is fully healed.

When Can I Exfoliate After IPL?

After receiving an IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatment, your skin undergoes a sensitive phase of healing.

It is essential to give your skin the proper time to recuperate before beginning any exfoliation routine.

Generally, you should wait 7 to 10 days after your IPL treatment before using exfoliants to avoid unnecessary irritation.

During the initial healing process:

  • Avoid harsh products such as chemical peels and aggressive scrubs. These can lead to irritation and impede your skin’s natural shedding process.
  • Use a gentle cleanser to maintain cleanliness without causing additional stress to the skin.

When you do begin to exfoliate:

  1. Choose a mild exfoliant. Look for products formulated for sensitive skin.
  2. Patch test the product on a small area of your skin to ensure there’s no adverse reaction.
  3. Apply with care, using soft, circular motions to promote gentle exfoliation without causing damage.

Keep in mind:

  • Your skin’s tolerance for exfoliation will depend on its unique sensitivity level post-IPL.
  • If you experience any signs of irritation, such as redness or discomfort, halt the use of exfoliants and consult your skincare specialist.

Post-IPL, your skin is more susceptible to sunburns:

  • Always apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage.
  • Continue to keep your skin well-moisturized to support its natural barrier and healing process.

When Can I Use An AHA After IPL?

When Can I Use An AHA After IPL?

After receiving IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatment, your skin will be more sensitive than usual. 

Patience is key when integrating Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) back into your skincare routine. 

AHA’s, which include glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids, are known for their exfoliating properties that help reveal brighter skin. However, introducing them too soon after IPL could cause irritation.

Generally, you should wait 7 to 10 days after your IPL treatment before using AHA’s. 

This period allows your skin to heal and reduces the risk of exacerbated redness or swelling.

Meanwhile, to support your skin’s recovery, focus on keeping it hydrated with a gentle moisturizer and protected with sunscreen.

Post-IPL, check your products for other potent ingredients, such as retinol (vitamin A), which can further sensitize your skin.

Products containing Retin-A, retinols, or tretinoin should be discontinued a few days before your IPL treatment and shouldn’t be reintroduced until your skin has fully recovered.

Here’s a brief guideline to follow:

  • Immediately After IPL: Use gentle, soothing ointments or creams to help with the healing.
  • First Week Post IPL: Avoid all types of exfoliation, including chemical exfoliants like AHA’s.
  • 7 to 10 Days Later: Gradually reintroduce AHA’s in a lower concentration to avoid irritation.

How Soon After An IPL PhotoFacial Can I Wash My Face?

The good news is you don’t have to wait too long before you can wash your face. However, it’s essential to use a gentle approach to not disrupt the skin’s natural healing process.

Immediately After Treatment:

  • Use cool compresses if you experience any redness or swelling. This can help soothe your skin.

First 24 Hours:

  • Keep your skin moisturized. Apply a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
  • It’s advisable to keep your hands off your face to avoid any irritation or introducing bacteria.

Cleansing Process:

  1. Wait until the evening of your treatment day, or ideally 24 hours after your IPL session, to gently cleanse your skin.
  2. Use a mild cleanser, free from harsh chemicals or exfoliation agents.
  3. Rinse your face with lukewarm water; avoid using extremely hot or cold water, as it can irritate your skin.
  4. Do not use a washcloth or any exfoliating tools; your hands are the best tool for the job here.
  5. Gently pat your face dry with a soft towel; avoid rubbing, which can agitate the skin.


  • Continue to keep your skin well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and applying a suitable moisturizer.

Remember, your skin is sensitive right now, and treating it with care is your top priority. If you have any concerns or notice unexpected reactions, contact your skin care provider for advice.

IPL is amazing for helping to reduce unwanted body hair, but IPL is a form of laser treatment, so always follow the advice from your technician or specialist, to ensure you get best results, and don’t irritate the skin.