Which skin care products after a laser treatment?

Hi Dr. Irwin, Which topicals do you recommend to use post-laser treatment? I recently had multiple laser resurfacing on my face and neck. My doc says to use "any moisturizer you like" and then several weeks after healing to resume RetinA. What do you recommend for the weeks after the skin has peeled, to help healing or enhance the effects, and for general anti-aging (aside from sunscreen, of course)? I have healthy, medium-toned, slightly oily skin with slight acne (hormonal). I'm 56 with extreme wellness habits for decades. Thanks very much, Sharon

For skin care products after a laser treatment, ideally………….BEFORE you have the treatment, the board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon would give you a written post care instruction sheet that describes the skin care products products they want you to use after your treatment or…………they would provide the products to you at no extra cost the day of your treatment.    I’m kinda finding through all of you and your great questions…….that this isn’t always happening.

So here are some specific thoughts on skin care products after a laser treatment:

  • If the laser treatment doesn’t break the skin, then in general, it’s not as critical.  Most of the time, use your regular products which are soothing.
  • Ask your doctor specifically  (even if you need to call later), about any Retin A/retinol products, antioxidants (which can be acidic), and alpha or beta hydroxy acids.
  • If the laser treatment is fractionated (like CO2 or Fraxel) OR any more invasive laser, then the potential for irritation is much greater.  Ask your doctor. My vote is to use very bland, moisturizing products for sensitive/allergic skin like a very gentle Cerave or Cetaphil lotion cleanser with no scent and a very bland emollient/moisturizer like the Pevonia  or Replenish Hydrating or  things like vaseline, Aquaphor, CeraVe Cream or Vanicream.
  • Allergic or irritant reactions can happen with ANY product, so if you are getting irritated, itchy or red, stop the product and call your doctor!
  • Zinc ointment 20% (like used for diaper rash :)) also has anti bacterial and healing properties.  BUT….be very careful about the inactive ingredients.  Some of these have very irritating alcohols and chemicals in them.  Look for a base with vaseline, waxes, parafins etc.  Non prescription.

Hope this helps you find good skin care products after a laser treatment,

Dr Irwin

Replenish Hydrating Cream

Replenish Hydrating Cream


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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