Chemical peels are a widespread treatment used to improve the skin’s appearance. Whether you’ve had one before or you’re considering getting one for the first time, there are a few things you should know!
Chemical Peels Use Acids to Improve Appearance of Delicate Skin
Chemical peels remove the topmost layer of the skin to reveal newer, smoother, “fresher” looking skin underneath. They can improve hyperpigmentation (like age spots or melasma), uneven texture, scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. Chemical peels are most often used on the face, neck, and hands. A physician or esthetician applies an acid solution to the skin for a limited amount of time, often just 3-5 minutes, to allow the acids to do their work.
Chemical Peels Vary in Strength from Superficial to Deep
Depending on the desired results, a peel may use mild, medium, or strong acids.
Alpha-hydroxy acid is a mild acid that is used in some lighter peels and is even used in many drugstore and department store skincare products. Medium-strength peels use acids like glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid. Strong, or deep, peels use acids like trichloroacetic acid or phenol.
Chemical Peels Cause Peeling
The point of a peel is to allow the top layer of the skin to peel off – literally – to reveal the skin underneath. This process starts after the peel and can last 3-5 days. Don’t pick at your skin during this time and only use products recommended by your doctor or esthetician.
Chemical Peels Cause Stinging and Sensitivity
The acids in chemical peels often cause a stinging sensation on the face, which again, is usually for only a few minutes at a time (if you feel pain that’s more severe, let your doctor or esthetician know immediately so the solution can be removed). The stronger the acids used, the more uncomfortable the peel will be.
After a chemical peel, typical side effects include redness, swelling, and sensitivity. It’s best to stay out of the sun for several days following a peel and to take care of your skin by drinking water, moisturizing, and using SPF every day.
Chemical Peels Are Not Appropriate for Everyone
Women who are nursing or pregnant should not get a chemical peel. People who have psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, or dermatitis should also avoid peels. Finally, people who have been on the acne medication Accutane within the last six months or who have recently used products with Retin-A or other strong chemicals shouldn’t get peels. Be sure to talk to your doctor or esthetician about any medication or skincare products you’re using so they can be aware of potential interactions.
Chemical Peels Work!
There’s a reason chemical peels are so popular. They cause minimal pain and require little recovery time, yet can achieve fantastic results, from brightening the complexion to smoothing acne scars to evening out skin tone. If you’re considering a chemical peel, look for an experienced esthetician, or better, a dermatologist, to perform it. Learn more about our chemical peel options on our website!