Are you a peeling junkie? If so, this one’s for you. If not, this one’s for you to become one. We will explore what types of chemical peels there are, what are their benefits, and when and how often they should be used. We will also challenge chemical peel treatments and see if and what we can do in terms of at-home peel.
The desire for facial rejuvenation has been known forever, since ancient civilizations. We all know that women in ancient Egypt, including Cleopatra, bathed in sour milk and rubbed their faces with fermented grape skin to soften their skin. You can do that or you might consider chemical peels.
- What is a chemical peel?
- Skin after chemical peel treatment
- Types of chemical peels
- What skin conditions do chemical peels heal?
- Are chemical peels good for acne?
- Which acid tackles which concern?
- How often should you go to this treatment?
- What are the drawbacks of chemical peels?
- In-office and at-home peels
- Are there any replacements for chemical peels you can do at home?
- Prep and aftercare for at-home peeling
What is a chemical peel?
Chemical peels are procedures during which selected chemicals are applied to the skin with the aim of peeling the skin to achieve a better appearance and skin quality. A chemical peel process includes using a chemical solution to improve the appearance of the skin. In chemical peel treatment, a chemical solution is applied to one’s skin with the goal of resolving a specific skin condition by removing damaged skin cells, revealing healthier skin underneath.
Skin after chemical peel treatment
The natural process of skin renewal changes and slows down with age. That leads to skin that looks gray and tired, with decreased elasticity. That’s where chemical peels come into the picture. The new skin is usually smoother with fewer lines and wrinkles, has a more even color, and is brighter in complexion.
Types of chemical peels
Superficial peels (AHA and BHA peels) target the epidermis or the outermost layer of your skin. The light chemical peels are a safe bet for those with minimal skin problems like shallow sun spots, rough patches, and clogged pores, and it is typically taking 1-7 days to heal.
Medium-depth peels (like TCA peels) take a longer period and more maintenance to heal as it penetrates the second skin layer, the dermis. This targets more deep-rooted problems related to skin tone and texture. The average downtime is 7-14 days, wherein one needs to avoid sun exposure and take additional medication.
Deep peels (Phenol peels) are the most intense in nature and are only recommended for severe acne scars and skin issues. Surface-level healing can take up to several weeks, but sun exposure must be avoided for as long as 6 months.
What skin conditions do chemical peels heal?
There are a number of reasons people may get chemical peels. They may be trying to treat a variety of things, including wrinkles and fine lines, sun damage, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, scars, melasma, uneven skin tone, or redness.
Chemical peels for wrinkles and fine lines
Chemical peels can reduce or improve fine lines and wrinkles that appear due to aging. If anti-aging is one’s main goal, medium chemical peels are the name of the game. They penetrate deep enough to stimulate collagen production and cell regeneration without harming naturally aging skin. As the healing period comes to an end one will perceive significant smoothening of wrinkles, a more even skin tone, and an overall radiant glow.
Chemical peels for sun damage
The improvement of the skin surface and lightening of dark spots and areas of discoloration that occurred as a result of increased sun exposure, chlorine, and salty air can be treated with light peels. They typically use alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid, or salicylic acid to remove the outer layer of the skin. Btw, AHA peels are better for dry skin.
Chemical peels for (acne) scars
For acne scarring, the most commonly recommended chemical peeling agent is glycolic acid. This has been proven to provide optimal results when used to treat atrophic acne scarring, reducing the differences in profile between the scarred area and the surrounding tissue. Then there is a trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel that is a medium depth. How well the peels work may depend on the depth of the scarring and which peel exactly might depend on the skin type.
Chemical peels for hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation refers to any skin discoloration of the skin – it can be acne scar, sun damage, freckles, age spots, or a skin condition like melasma. Depending on the level of hyperpigmentation, one might want to use light, medium, or even deep chemical peels; there is hardly a universal answer, although TCA peels are usually mentioned when it comes to this specific skin condition. This one will definitely require a consultation with a dermatologist or esthetician.
Chemical peels for melasma
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation, but it typically stems from different causes. Mandelic acid peels are a non-irritating yet powerful treatment for melasma. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment but, ideally, it’s used within a treatment plan for melasma as this condition often requires a multi-pronged approach.
Chemical peels for uneven skin tone or redness
Are chemical peels good for acne?
Working with the right skin specialist is your way to go. A chemical peel for acne may be an option if you are prone to breakouts. Chemical peels offer a range of benefits for skin that is acne-prone and acne scar-prone. These include: improving the texture and skin tone by smoothing it out, lightening and reducing the color of dark spots, and preventing future breakouts by unclogging pores.
Which acid tackles which concern?
Glycolic acid can treat surface-level pigmentation, mild signs of aging, fine lines, and sun damage. Lactic acid is also useful for minor sun damage, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. It is similarly effective to glycolic acid. Mandelic acid is effective for treating superficial redness and an uneven skin tone, while salicylic acid can help with oily or acne-prone skin.
How often should you go to this treatment?
Depends on the peel type: those who just want or need light peels can usually get them every month. For a more intense treatment, such as medium peels, there’s a general recommendation to wait between 4 and 6 months between treatments. Deep peels are super intense and the period in between 2 can last up to a couple of years. Your dermatologist will be the best possible advisor and you should be conservative in approaching this matter.
What are the drawbacks of chemical peels?
Are there any chemical peels that are the ultimate solution to our numerous problems related to various skin conditions? There are always risks to anything, right? If performed by a trained professional, chemical peels should not bring you issues other than temporary discomfort; someone can also experience pain during and after the treatment. The skin after the treatment is usually red and can be scabbing and swelling. You can also experience occasional stinging or tingling when the solution is applied. No pain nor gain, ha?
In-office and at-home peels
Chemical peels are typically done in-office; deep peels may be done in an outpatient surgical facility. If you are careful enough and you carefully follow the product instructions and use precautions, it is safe to use chemical peel at home. However, the doctors recommend everyone to stay away from peels containing trichloroacetic acid, phenolic acid, and retinol as these are deep peel agents and can cause more harm than good when not used by medical professionals.
Are there any replacements for chemical peels you can do at home?
If you are substituting your usual visit to a dermatologist with an at-home peel, here is what you have to know. Don’t be frightened because at-home peels are designed to be gentle on your skin as concentrations of at-home alternatives are low and they work on the skin texture and tone improvement gradually. When you shop for at-home peel, you should take your skin type into consideration. Oily to combination skin responds better to alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA), while dry to sensitive skin works better with polyhydroxy acids and mandelic acid as they are larger molecules. For those with super sensitive skin, enzyme peels are a good call.
Prep and aftercare for at-home peeling
What should the chemical peel process look like when performed at home? Make sure you prep your skin thoughtfully and avoid using physical exfoliators, such as scrubs or toners to aggressively cleanse your face before the peel as they might irritate your skin and we don’t want that. After using a chemical peel, certain aftercare is called for. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 and vigilant protection from the sun and heat is a must! Finally, you should avoid treating multiple skin issues at the same time with different peels for the duration of one week as it is a recipe for disaster.
Do wonders, and stay away from disasters.