What is a chemical peel anyway? Click To Tweet
It is a single or combination of chemicals (usually naturally derived Alpha Hydroxy Acids) that when applied to the skin, speeds up the natural exfoliation process causing shedding and peeling of the top dead layers. The peel penetrated deep into the top layers of skin and immediately stimulates collagen and elastin production. The cells are a bit traumatized so they begin to multiply rapidly, causing the new skin to push upward, shedding the old. There are many different chemicals used in a chemical peel but the most popular are Glycolic, Lactic, Salicylic, Trichloric Acids.
Who are chemical peels good for?
Uneven skin tone, Dull, Lackluster
Fine Lines (not deep wrinkles)
Who is NOT a good candidate for peels?
Your skin type will determine which peel is best for you, a professional esthetician (very experienced) will be able to let you know which peel to receive. In my office I like to precondition the skin for a week or two before administering a medium strength peel. The skin should be used to using AHA’s at home or it can be too sensitive and the peel can cause a bit too much damage all at once. The peel itself is a quick and easy process. Moderate to aggressive burning can be felt, so I use an electric fan while the peel is being applied.
Step 1. Cleanse with a mild, gentle cleanser. Nothing too harsh or aggressive to disturb the acid mantle (this is the natural moisture barrier on the surface of the skin). The peel is going to be aggressive so we don’t need to assist with that during the cleansing process.
Step 2. Administer the chemical peel. Depending on the peel and the brand, some will be applied with a fan brush and some will be wiped over with a gauze wet with peel. We may only apply one layer of peel or we may continue to layer up to four. This will depend on how the skin is reacting after layer one. If the skin is doing well, (your esthetician will know what to look out for) then we can proceed with a second layer. We wait and go for a third if all is good. The client can hold an electric fan during all of this to cool the skin during the process.
Step 3. Some peels are left on the skin and the client goes home. I recommend not washing the face for 2 days so the peel penetrates deeper. Other peels need to be neutralized (your professional will have the ingredients to do this). Typically nothing is put on top of the skin immediately after the peel, so there is no interaction.
The day of the peel you will see redness and possibly some mild inflammation Click To Tweet. Peels are great at reducing inflammation so this should go away by the next day. The redness however may last a few days. By day 3-4 you will begin to see peeling around the mouth. This is the first area to shed because it’s moving all the time.
I tell my clients to wait a couple of days before washing their face, on day two or three it is safe to use a gentle cleanser one to two times a day. For the next seven days, clients should use a gentle cleanser to allow the skin to peel normally and naturally. Do not use any cleansers that are harsh or aggressive, nothing with alpha hydroxy acids or astringents such as alcohol. The new skin that is emerging needs to be treated gently with care. After about a week, it is safe to resume with cleansers containing more aggressive ingredients.
One thing you will notice a couple of days after the peel is that all of the pigmentation rushes to the surface. So any hyperpigmentation that you have will get darker before it is sloughed off. Once the darkened pigmentation rises to the surface, it is able to be exfoliated away.
I recommend that when the skin begins peeling a lot, probably on day 3-5, it is good to come in for an enzyme treatment. Enzymes are tiny microbes that eat away and dissolve the dead skin on the surface of the face. The treatment is super gentle, no discomfort at all. Once the dead skin is removed, the skin is instantly brighter, more even skin tone and pigmentation has drastically faded.
During the enzyme treatment, we start off with a gentle cleanse. Something creamy and gentle, then we apply the enzyme, it’s a powder that I mix with an activator into a creamy paste then apply with a fan brush. There is no stinging or sensation when applied. I turn on the steam and allow the steam to keep the enzyme warm and moist for about 10-15 mins. While under the steam I may do a bit of massage to assist the enzyme in dissolving the dead skin, but for the most part the enzyme knows what to do. When that is finished, I will do a bit of extraction if necessary, apply a gentle soothing mask, remove, tone, moisturize, eye cream, and sunscreen.
Do not forget sunscreen!
Absolutely necessary every day but especially while peeling or using any AHA’s, topical medicine, or exposure to the sun.