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? That’s because chemical peels are incredibly effective at improving the look of wrinkles, scars, discoloration, and other skin blemishes.
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. Both deep and medium-level peels will involve a LOT of visible skin shedding in sheets, redness, swelling, and, if administered improperly, burning and scarring. Light peels can be done at home with carefully selected products, or while you’re at the spa.
Chemicals in the Peels
The most common chemicals used in peels are mandelic, lactic, and glycolic acids. We covered them in-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 bright and clear.
Steer clear of anything called a Jessner Peel or that contains 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!
Once you reach the time limit, make sure to neutralize the peel, so it won’t continue working long after you’d like it to stop. Our peels only need water to neutralize fully, but that may not always be the case with other peels that may require special neutralizing solutions, or a mixture of baking soda and water.
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 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. That is because your skin will be more sensitive to UV light, and could result in easily getting a sunburn and/or deeper-level damage to skin.