The things you should avoid after a facial laser treatment

Consider yourself warned

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / August 03 2021

Whether you have stubborn acne scars you just can’t seem to shift, pigmentation that’s getting in the way of your clear skin goals, or pores the size of moon craters, facial laser treatments can address a lot of major skin concerns. But while lasers are becoming more and more popular - and mainstream - as the years go by, many of the benefits and side effects, as well as the best post-treatment plans, aren’t common knowledge. To change that, we spoke to Co-Director of The Clinic, Lisa Sullivan-Smith and Dermal Clinician at Blyss, Jodie King.   

The benefits of facial laser treatments

Because the ‘less is more’ beauty trend has us opting for sheerer, lighter and more breathable makeup products, having a clear and smooth complexion is a priority. And while topical skin care can help you achieve your #skingoals, laser treatments can overhaul your complexion in a way your favourite serum can’t. In fact, laser treatments “can improve skin cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin, minimise pore size, treat scarring, remove redness and pigmentation, even skin tone and result in smoother, glowing and younger-looking skin,” explains King. With a CV like that, it’s no wonder they’re so popular!

The immediate side effects of facial laser treatments

While you may have steered clear of laser treatments in the past due to fears of drastic side effects and lengthy downtimes, the new era of lasers are much less troublesome. King explains, if superficial lasers have been used, your skin may feel a little warm afterwards and you may have some slight redness. Alternatively, if lasers targeting pigmentation have been used, “the pigment may appear darker, similar to having been out in the sun, with skin experiencing a slight sting for an hour or so. Deeper lasers, however, may result in the skin swelling, redness and the feeling of sunburn,” adds King. 

As with the side effects, expected downtime depends on the type and depth of the laser, says King. “Superficial lasers will have no downtime. The treatment of pigmented lesions may take five to seven days for the skin to be clear and the darkening of pigment to shed (this can be covered easily with makeup and causes no discomfort). For lasers treating the deeper layers of the skin, it can take anywhere between seven and 14 days for your skin to heal.” 

Sullivan-Smith adds that it takes up to four weeks for complete cell renewal, healing and optimal results to show.

What to avoid after a laser treatment

Put simply, the top thing you need to avoid after a facial laser treatment is active ingredients. “Avoid alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and retinol. Also avoid high impact exercise and sweating,” says Sullivan-Smith. King also recommends steering clear of  exfoliating ingredients.

The best ingredients to use after a laser treatment

Think of your skin as a wound after a laser treatment and treat it as such. For best results, keep your skin hydrated, moist, clean and protected from the sun. “Gentle products that contain peptides should be your go-to. If you have had a more aggressive treatment, use emollient creams to protect the barrier of your skin and ensure that it remains hydrated. Gentle cleansing with a milk cleanser morning and night, using a quality SPF during the day and a basic moisturiser at night are also essential,” advises King.

Want to know what a facial laser is like? Here’s what happened when we tried the celeb-approved treatment.


Main image credit: @melaniegrantskin

Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.