What is a Chemical Peel?
Administered by skin care professionals, chemical peels work by exfoliating the skin’s surface to reduce the appearance of blemishes, smooth skin texture, improve radiance, and restore skin health. They are most effective at enhancing cell turnover and improving the appearance on the surface of the skin.
Chemical peels come in many different strengths and acidic formulations ranging from superficial to higher penetrating peels. Some common acids in chemical peels are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). AHAs are often used to treat signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven texture. BHAs are often used to treat problematic skin concerns such as blemishes, large pores, and uneven texture. TCA is often used to treat more advanced visible signs of aging and discoloration caused by sun damage, acne, or hormones.
How do Chemical Peels work?
Chemical peels improve the texture and appearance of the skin by sloughing off the outer layers of the skin. They are effective facial treatments for improving blemishes, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin tone. During the treatment, a pre-determined quantity of the peel solution is applied to the skin for a specified amount of time. This is dependent on the type of chemical peel used, the concentration of the solution, skin type, and skin’s reactivity to the treatment. This solution works by reacting with the upper layer of the skin to efficiently dissolve the bonds that bind surface cells to the skin, ultimately revealing smoother, healthier skin underneath. While some peels are self-neutralizing, most formulas need to be neutralized with a buffering solution or water upon completion of the treatment. The goal is to create a controlled, safe injury to the skin, thereby prompting skin to naturally repair itself and reveal newer, brighter skin.
Who are Chemical Peels for?
The depth and type of chemical peel used by a skincare professional depends on the condition of the skin, the skin’s Fitzpatrick type (skin color and likelihood to burn), and the skincare habits of the client. In general, the higher the Fitzpatrick skin type, the more caution should be exercised to avoid triggering a pigment response. For extremely sensitive skin and skin experiencing barrier dysfunction (eczema, psoriasis, etc), light chemical peels are recommended.
Many skin types can benefit from lactic acid peels. And, because they are fairly gentle peels, lactic acid can be used by people who aren’t good candidates for other types of peels.
Brighter, Smoother Skin
Immediately following a salicylic acid peel, you’ll notice your skin feels softer and smoother. Salicylic acid peels can brighten your complexion. They also will give your skin a better texture and make large pores look smaller.
Treat Acne and Blackheads
Salicylic acid peels are particularly helpful for treating acne and blackheads. Salicylic acid is a strong comedolytic, which means it helps unclog pores. It also helps decrease the amount of oil on the skin. Regular salicylic acid peels can help improve both inflammatory acne and comedonal acne.
Reduce Sun Damage, Fine Lines, and Wrinkles
Salicylic, Glycolic or Lactic acid peels are also used as anti-aging peels. While they can’t erase deep lines and wrinkles, they can soften fine lines and give your complexion a boost. It is especially good at treating sun damage, too.
Fade Dark Spots and Uneven Skin Tone (Hyperpigmentation)
A series of chemical peel treatments can fade dark spots and discolorations like melasma, freckles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the discoloration that is left behind after a pimple heals).