Chemical peels are making something of a comeback, once again earning their rightful place in the top five nonsurgical procedures category in American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s (ASAPS) 2014 statistics. Peels edged out photo rejuvenation from the top five completely and surpassed microdermabrasion in popularity. There’s a reason for this — they work and they work well.

Peels remove the top surface of your skin to reveal a smoother, newer layer.Peels can be done on the face, neck, chest, hands, arms and legs. Depending on the strength, they can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of mild acne scars, control active acne, reduce brown spots and pigmentation, and rejuvenate skin tone and texture.

They come in many varieties, from glycolic acid pads that you can pick up at a drugstore to use at home to higher strength peels that are offered at spas, medspas and in dermatologists’ offices. The latter involves a solution that is applied to the skin for seconds to minutes, and then neutralized at a specific point.  All of these options can have tremendous benefits for your skin. In general, the deeper the peel, the more dramatic the skin-rejuvenating effects. Of course, there is a tradeoff: deeper peels require more downtime.

Over-the-counter peels are pretty mild and can be done a few times per week or once weekly, depending on the strength and your skin type. These are most commonly alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels that are highly buffered to prevent stinging and irritation.

Mild chemical peels include glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid peels that exfoliate, improve the skin’s texture and even out pigmentation. Glycolic acids come in different strengths from as low as 5% at the drugstore, and up to 70% in physicians’ offices. Several factors, including whether the solution is buffered, how neutral it is and the pH, will affect how strong the actual peel treatment is. Salicylic acid may be used in different concentrations from about 20% to 30%. Superficial peels are usually repeated on a regular basis to keep skin fresh and healthy, often every 3 to 6 weeks. Your skin may be slightly pink for a few hours after a peel and there may be some flaking for a day or two, but there is no real downtime to plan for with mild peels.

Medium depth chemical peels including trichloracetic acids (TCA) treat more advanced wrinkles, sun damage, and uneven pigment. Depending on the peel, there may be some redness, flaking and peeling for several days up until a week. Makeup and concealer can usually be worn as soon as flaking subsides to cover up any residual redness.

Often a series of mild peels, appropriately spaced about one month apart, is needed to achieve the desired results.

Good post-peel care can also maximize the results of your peel:

  • Avoiding direct sun exposure in the first 1-2 weeks after a peel.

  • Use a moisturizer to keep skin hydrated. The DERMAFLASH Soothe hydrating lotion works well after mild peels when flaking has subsided.

  • Apply broad spectrum SPF50 daily even after your skin has fully healed to maintain results and protect your skin.

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