Which skincare products can be used right before or after laser treatments?

Hi Dr Irwin, Just need to get your valuable advice on something, I know we are supposed to stop using retinoids a week before getting any lasers done but what about Lytera, or antioxidants like Phloretin CF or C Infusion Serum? I’m sure I’ve read somewhere on your blog about working out some kind of skin lightening regime with our dermatologist before the lasers... does that mean we should use Lytera right up to and immediately after the lasers? What about the antioxidants? Do we need to stop using this before and do we need to wait some time after before using them again? If so, how long a break before and after? Thank you so much for your advice. As always, much appreciated.

This is a great question!

OK….just saying here…… ideally your provider would tell you ahead of time if she/he wants you to stop things prior!  So here are some good general guidelines, but ask your doctor!!  They may have a specific regimen for you.

Another general guideline is: if the laser interrupts the barrier function (like Fraxel or CO2) then wait about a month to resume regular products.  If the laser or radiofrequency doesn’t, then one week is usually good.  Again….check with your provider!


  • Many of these are acidic (think vitamin C), and can sting or irritate the skin after lasers.
  • Generally fine to use right up to the day before your laser
  • These generally improve skin cell health, pigment or turnover so add one of these if you don’t use one.


  • The most irritating of any skincare product category, but also the most effective at anti-aging.
  • Most clinics will have you stop these 2-7 days before a laser.
  • The general guideline above applies to this category.

Lightening agents:(Lytera)

  • If you have trouble with brown spots or streaks after skin injuries, be sure to clarify with your doctor.
  • Plant based creams/lotions like Lytera are generally NOT irritating and can be used right up to the laser.  We have our patients resume after one week for Fraxels or CO2 lasers.  The rest are fine right away.
  • All hydroquinones can be very irritating and need to always be discussed with your doctor.

Cell Growth Stimulators:

  • Generally not irritating, and safe to use before and after, but general guideline above applies

Must Haves for Post Laser:

  • A bland, neutral pH cleanser and moisturzier…..like CeraVe or Cetaphil Cream and cleanser.  Your clinic may have one they especially like also.
Hope this helps!
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!






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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