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Everything to Know About Chemical Peels

Spring is upon us! The parkas go into storage, the crocus are busting through, and its time to get a on a chemical peel schedule before the summer!

After the holidays we are all guilty for stuffing our faces with all those delicious Christmas cookies, and a little too much booze at those holiday parties! Summer is around the corner and it’s time to hit the gym and shed the extra layers. Just like your body, your face needs to shed the extra layers too!

In the harsh winters, your skin creates extra layers to protect itself from the elements, and depending where you live, the cold winter can cause severe drying and flakiness. Let’s face it, your face is always exposed, and we expect it to be the smoothest, freshest and blemish free. That is a lot to ask! To keep your skin at its top form exfoliation is key for fresh glowing blemish free skin.

Chemical peels are a way to deeply exfoliate your skin. A chemical solution is applied to the skin and causes it to “peel”. Depending on the strength of the solution, the shedding or “peeling” of the old skin can appear to be flaky and dry skin or actual thin layers rubbing off. Don’t worry guys, there is no pain involved.

The old skin falls off within a week and the new, regenerated skin is smoother and less wrinkled. Your skin can also be temporarily more sensitive to the sun after a peel. So it is always important to wear sunscreen everyday, and especially after a chemical peel.

Below are some of the benefits from having chemical peels:

  • Reduce fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth

  • Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging

  • Improve the appearance of mild scars

  • Treat certain types of acne

  • Reduce age spots, freckles, and dark patches including melasma on women

  • Improve the look and feel and texture of skin

The process:

Your skin care professional will apply a thin layer of a chemical solution after prep. Chemical peels have a variety of acidic solutions, from salyclic acid, lactic acid, etc., that causes the skin to slough off and the surface layer(s) to sheds within a few days. Unless you have a strong peel it is actually not something you notice with the naked eye, unless of course you have an allergic reaction. It is recommended to do a test area, like behind your ear, or inside your elbow to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions.

It is recommended to do a series of 6, medium strength peels, and no more. In the series the peels can be done as often as every 2 weeks, but after the 6th you must stop to take a break to allow your skin to heal.

There are several types of chemical peels ranging from strength and content. Peels are usually categorized by percentage. Anything above 60% must be administered by a physician.

Light Peel: 10-30%

Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it.

Best purposes:

  • Mild skin discoloration

  • Rough Skin

  • Mild acne

  • Great to refresh the face, neck, chest or handsMild acne

Medium Peel: 30-60%

Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outer to middle layers of skin

Best purposes:

  • Remove damaged skin cells

  • Treat and improve age spots, freckles and moderate skin discoloration

  • Fine lines, wrinkles,

  • Mild to severe acne

  • Smooth rough skin and treat some precancerous skin growths, i.e. actinic keratosis.

Deep Peel: 60% and Up

Tricholoracetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells.

Best Purpose:

  • Removes moderate lines and shallow scars

  • Very effective treat acne

  • Removes age spots, freckles and shallow scars.

  • Patients will see a dramatic improvement in skin appearance.

  • The procedure is used on the face and only can be performed once.

Before your Chemical Peel:

  • You want to have she skin to be free of hair. You don’t have to shave completely, but you want to expose the skin that is going to be treated. If you shave make sure you shave the day or night before. Shaved skin is essentially exfoliated by your razor and will be more sensitive.

  • Consult your doctor if you are on medication to make sure there are no adverse effects with the peel. If you are on acne medication, you will have to stop taking it a few days, up to a week before, depending on how strong it is.

  • You should use any retinol base products the day of your peel. Retinol is a chemical exfoliant and it will make your skin more sensitive.

  • It’s a good idea to know if you are allergic or sensitive to any foods or chemicals. Chemical peels are derived from foods, plants, etc and if you are allergic to these foods or plants you will most likely be allergic to the peels that are derived from the same sources.

  • If you are going to workout the same day as your peel, do it before your peel and give your skin some time to calm down after your workout. I have had clients go for a run on their way to the spa, dripping with sweat off their face, and expect to have a chemical peel. This is a NO NO! After a work the surface of your skin is flushed with blood and sweat. The peel will not only be ineffective, but can have some serious adverse effects.

  • Your down time will be anywhere from 1-2 weeks, depending on the strength of your peel. Puffiness, redness and sensitivity is expected.. And that doesn’t mean you have to stay home. After most peels under 60% you are good to go back to normal activity the next day. Just stay out of the sun!

  • Stay away from hot showers and heat after your peel. Having your face over the stove while you’re cooking is not a good idea either. In other words, do not take a bikrahm yoga class afterwards, you’re skin will start to blister.

  • You cannot have a chemical peel if you are going to be in the sun for an extended amount of time. NO SUNBATHING! Your skin will fry and you will feel it happening. It is safe to say to let your skin heal for 1-2 weeks after a peel before you go on the Caribbean vacation!

Get on a chemical peel schedule. Your skin will thank you!

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