Ok lets start by dispelling some myths. Superficial chemical peels are not these big scary experiences that leave you cowering in exile, hiding your face from the world. No, you will not look like Samantha in that infamous episode of Sex and the City. Peels do not always result in excessive peeling or redness and irritation. In the hands of a qualified professional, chemical peels can produce amazing results with little to no downtime. The key is performing them in gradual series, always erring on the side of caution. Let’s explore how chemical peels work and who benefits from receiving these treatments.
Peel formulas are used to treat a wide range of skin conditions including hyperpigmentation, sun damage, melasma, acne, rosacea (yes, there are highly specialized formulas for delicate conditions like this), and more. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, chemical peels also reduce the risk of certain cancers as they remove the outer layer of skin where most precancerous lesions begin to form.
Peels are safe and effective treatments when performed by highly trained, licensed professionals. Your technician should consult with you to learn your lifestyle, skin condition, history and ethnic background. Professionals use an analysis called the Fitzpatrick scale to determine safe treatment levels. The Fitzpatrick scale was developed to determine a person’s risk of sunburn or skin cancer, but in this application it is used to determine a person’s potential for hyperpigmentation. All skin types can be safely treated, provided a gentle, gradual approach and safe formulation is used. There are a few cases in which peels would not be advised such as when treating pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with certain types of cancers, people with active sunburn or anyone who has taken accutane within the previous 6 months.
Chemical peels work by creating a change in pH on the skin, thereby loosening the glue that holds skin cells together. This often results in mild, flaky peeling which removes the outermost, dead layer of cells revealing more healthy tissue beneath. In many cases, there are ingredients within peel formulas that work to retrain your skin at the cellular level, prompting it to function in a more healthy manner. Brightening agents like kojic acid and tyrosinase inhibitors like hydroquinone work to reduce sun damage and hyperpigmentation by retraining melanocytes to function more efficiently.
During a superficial or medium depth chemical peel, you can expect mild, if any discomfort. Your technician should gauge your sensitivity and only expose you to formulations for which your skin is prepared. If you are highly reactive to a peel formula, you likely have impaired barrier function, meaning your skin is compromised and not functioning in a healthy way. In this case, perhaps alternative treatments should be considered to ensure your skin receives the maximum benefit of the peel.
Post peel your provider will advise you on your after care protocols. Generally speaking, it is advised to avoid sweating or chlorinated pools for at least 48 hours. While sun protection is always of the utmost importance, one must be exceptionally careful in the 7-10 days following a peel to prevent the occurrence of sun damage when your skin is at its most vulnerable. It is not advised to pick or peel at flaking skin as removing dead skin prematurely can cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Following your peel treatment you may be provided with a kit of product to use to keep your skin comfortable and help to produce the best possible results. It’s critical that you follow the advice of your skincare professional to ensure optimal results. Avoid active products like retinoids or vitamin C in the days following your peel, and remember to keep your skin hydrated. In some cases, following a deeper peel, use of an occlusive like Aquaphor may be required.
Mild chemical peel formulas produce dramatic results with very little down time and low risk of complications when performed by a Skn Expert. Visit us for an in person or zoom based consultation to determine the perfect formula to address your skincare concerns.