Chemical peels are the process of applying an acid solution to the skin of your face, causing the outermost layers of skin to dry out and eventually peel away. Now, why would anyone do this? Well, because chemical peels incredibly affective at reducing wrinkles, scars, discoloration, and other skin blemishes that eat away at our confidence.
The Level of Peel
There are three main kinds and depths of chemical peels: deep, medium, and light. A deep peel is more serious; it’s done by a physician and often involves some local anesthetic and taking an oral antiviral for several days after. A medium is less intensive, but is still typically done by your health care provider or dermatologist. Most of us are more familiar with the concept of the light peel. Those can be done over the counter at home with carefully picked out products, or while you’re at the spa.
Chemicals in the Peels
The most common chemicals used in peels are salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids. We covered them in more depth in a previous blog, so be sure to give that a read if you’re curious. But these aren’t the only ingredients in our peels either. A mixture of fruit acids and Kojic acid, which is used because it helps to inhibit melanin production and helps to keep skin light and clear.
Steer clear of anything called a Jessner Peel or containing the ingredient TCA – this is an ingredient thought to be potentially cancer-causing, and other acids or peels can get the job done just as well without it.
Cautions associated with peels
Step 1 is always always always read the instructions, whether you’re new to peels or an experienced user. Each peel can be a different pH or concentration, and buffered or unbuffered (i.e. watered down) and those facts don’t necessarily end up on the label. If the instructions say 1-2 minutes, 5 is not better – it could be way worse!
Because you’re removing so much of your outer layers of skin you’re going to get some good results quickly. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some cautions you should take. When getting a deep or even medium skin peel be sure to address any concerns with your doctor, but expect an antiviral and to need to stay indoors for several days. A light peel won’t be quite so drastic, but be sure to read the directions carefully, and be extra careful about sun exposure for the next few days until your skin has healed.