- 1 What is a Chemical Peel
- 2 Benefits of Using Chemical Peels
- 3 First Time Use
What is a Chemical PeelIt might not have the most pleasant sounding name in the world, but a facial chemical peel is a safe, commonly used method for treating acne, age spots, brown spots, large pores, fine wrinkles, bags under the eyes, and uneven skin pigmentation. The traditional chemical face peel procedure involves the application of a chemical solution designed to smooth and exfoliate skin while removing its damaged outer layer. The formula for a chemical peel varies, depending on your skin, but usually involves a combination of different types of trichloroacetic acid (TCA), alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), and sometimes phenol.
IngredientsMany of the compounds used in chemical peels are found in nature, such as Glycolic acid (of the alpha-hydroxy family), which is derived from certain fruits and plants. It assists in the skin treatment by stimulating new collagen and skin growth while allowing dead skin cells to fall off naturally.
- Glycolic acid, a type of fruit hydroxy, is found in most at-home chemical peels. It is the strongest type available for a moderate to strong superficial peel.
- Lactic acid is a milk-derived acid that helps retexturize the skin and stimulate cell renewal.
- Salicylic acid is a simple organic fruit compound that is commonly found in acne medications and topical products. It helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and is usually quite mild. Salicylic acid is an effective acne scar chemical peel and also works for oily and acne prone skin, by increasing cell turnover.
The Peel ProcessMost chemical peels take only 10-15 minutes to perform, and the majority of patients report only a mild stinging from the chemical solution. With the less invasive chemical peels mentioned above, the recovery time is quick, with most redness and dryness subsiding within a week’s time. There are chemical peels that require much more downtime because of the blistering that occurs after treatment.
Chemical peel side effects may include severe redness and flaking of skin, facial swelling, or dry skin.
Length of Chemical Peels ResultsYou will need to have a number of treatments (usually a minimum of 3) to see lasting and noticeable results. Of course chemical peels can’t stop the natural aging process, but if you adhere to the prescribed number of treatments, you can notice long lasting or permanent results in the area that was treated.
Chemical Peels Recovery Time
“That’s why most people have a chemical peel on a Friday so that they have the weekend to recover.”
It is very important to note that chemical peels, while perfectly safe, are NOT for everyone. Because they involve the application of strong chemicals to delicate facial skin certain people should avoid using these products, namely those with active acne, sensitive and/or fragile skin. Also note that chemical peels are best suited for those with light to medium skin, and less suited for dark skin. If you have any doubts about whether a chemical peel is right for you, consult your dermatologist.
Chemical Peel TypesThere are three levels of chemical peel: superficial, medium and deep. Usually deep and medium chemical peels are done under the care of a professional dermatologist since the formulas are very concentrated and result in a long recovery period (from one week to over a month), while superficial peel kits for at-home use are mild and result in little to no recovery time.
Most people with mild to moderate wrinkles or scarring can consider one of the many reasonably priced home kits, excellent anti-aging products that produce visible results in a relatively short period; something most anti-aging treatments cannot offer. For anyone with severe scarring, discoloration or deep wrinkles, a professional treatment would be best.
How Chemical Peels Work
Chemical peels are applied directly to the skin, usually in liquid, gel or cream form. Once applied, they begin to break up the top layers of the skin. In the following hours or days (depending on the product’s strength) you will notice some redness and/or peeling as the dead skin comes off. The more powerful the treatment and the higher the concentration of chemicals, the deeper down into the skin the product can reach. AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) or BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) are the basis of a chemical exfoliant. In relatively low chemical concentrations they can be used on a daily basis (around 4%) whereas 8% to 10% is common for a mild home peel to be used once a week. Anything less than 4% is not effective as an exfoliant. Chemical peels remove damaged outer layers of skin on the face to smooth texture, reduce scarring, and remove blemishes and pre-cancerous growths to produce healthy, glowing skin. The body creates new cells to replace the ones that the peel removes. Many medical specialists believe that new collagen is also generated following the peel procedure. In a chemical peel, we apply an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) to cleansed skin. The acid is left on for a short time (this depends on the condition of the skin, your tolerance level, etc.). Chemical peels are used to treat facial discoloration such as brown, mottled or muddy pigment usually from the sun or the combination of sun and hormone treatment. They also help tighten the facial pores and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Chemical peels can also improve whiteheads and blackheads that are seen with acne. A whole host of chemical peels exist to refresh skin, treat disease, and turn back the aging process. A chemical peel can be superficial, which only removes the very top surface of the skin. These superficial peels can be performed monthly and often contain the “fruit” acids, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, nutrients and vitamins. There is usually no recovery time needed.
Benefits of Using Chemical PeelsOur skin has something called a skin renewal factor. When we are young, our skin renewal factor is fast. The old dead skin cells are being replaced with healthy new cells, which is why kids have such soft, beautiful skin. The older we get, this process starts to slow down. Chemical peels help speed up the skin’s renewal factor. It helps to remove the dead cells so the body can generate new cells to replace them.
- If you have oily skin, there is a chemical peel that is designed to eat away the oil.
- It also helps acne prone skin because it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredients in it.
- It can be beneficial for those who have had bad acne, and now are left with acne scars. Chemical peels will help soften the skin. As older cells are being replaced, the new cells will help plump up the skin causing the scarring to get less and less visible.
- If you have extremely dry skin there is a chemical peel that can actually hydrate and moisturize the skin. Do you have calluses on your feet? Chemical peel treatments on your feet can help shed off the callus, making your feet feel soft. So no matter what your skin type, there is a chemical peel for you!
First Time UseWe recommend our Level 1 products for beginners. These include the Salicylic/20, Lactic/35 and the Glycolic/35 chemical peels.
Who is the Best Candidate for a Chemical Peel?If you want to improve the texture and pigmentation of your skin without surgery, a Chemical Peel may be very appropriate. Keep in mind, however, your skin type and color, ethnic background and age will be factors in determining which type of peel is right for you. You must be free of active skin infections, including most kinds of acne and any type of cold sore, including herpes simplex. Just about anyone can enjoy the benefits of a chemical peel. In general, the best candidates are people who:
- Understand the procedure.
- Who do not smoke.
- Are in good health.
- Have not taken Accutane in the last 18 months.
- Free from unusual scar formation, such as keloids.
- Realistic in their expectations.
- Want to look younger and more refreshed.