Habits such as exercise, diet and drinking plenty of water maintain healthy skin. Then there’s acne, dark spots, scars or fine lines. There are numerous options, from counter tops to surgeries, for getting ‘the look’. Instead of invasive face lifts and plastic surgery, chemical peels are a non-surgical procedure that exfoliates, rejuvenates, and improve your skin.
As the name insinuates, a chemical solution is applied to your face. Similar to body scrubs, chemical peels remove ‘dead’ layers of skin; eliminate acne, wrinkles, scars and spots; and balance skin tone. Also, chemical peels stimulates collagen. The depth of the chemical peel depends on your skin condition, the chemical used, and length of time. Typically chemical peels are applied to your face, but there’s been instances where they’ve been used on the neck and hands.
Chemical peels takes about 10-15 minutes and most are performed at a dermatologist’s office. At a spa or salon, it may cost $200 to $2,000 for a single peel. You gently wash and dry your face. Then the solution is applied with a cotton swab, pad or brush. It’s spread everywhere except your eyes, lips and eyebrows. It may itch or sting (a fan or cold compress can ease discomfort). Afterwards, a neutralizing solution is sprayed on your face then washed. There are two types of chemical peel: mild and deep:
Mild chemical peels removes ‘superficial’ skin. AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) such as mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid are the mildest and can be used at home. Salicylic helps with acne, blemishes, and fine lines. For sensitive skin, bitter almonds produce mandelic acid, an alternative for glycolic acid. Within three days, the ‘dead skin’ should peel off. With glycolic acid, you’ll experience peeling hours after application. This chemical peel procedure causes light peeling, and can be done weekly or at longer intervals. Result: smoother, brighter
Deep chemical peels. This chemical peel treatment requires up to 2-weeks of recovery because it strips the epidermis (it’ll look like someone splashed your face with acid a-la Cyndi Lauper). Use Obagi Blue, trichloroacetic acid (35%) and phenol peel with extreme caution. The strongest (AHA) is trichloroacetic (TCA). This chemical peel stays on longer and goes deep into several skin layers. There are medical considerations and complications, so when you consult with a dermatologist or aesthetician, make sure they have sufficient training and experience with chemical peels.
Side Effects, Recovery and Ointments
There will be some redness, followed by crusting and peeling following a chemical peel . The length of time it takes for the skin to completely peel depends on the strength of the chemical peel treatment. Other effects are irritation, scabbing, dark patches or temporary dryness. Deeper chemical peel treatments may cause significant swelling, scarring, infection, or abnormal pigmentation.
Make sure you drink plenty of water because it hydrates the skin and speeds the healing process after a chemical peel. Shea butter and Neosporin are can be soothing as well. Creams containing retinoid and antioxidants are also good. Dr. Susan Taylor reminds clients that the skin is susceptible to sunburns (even in the winter), and using sunscreen is very important when using chemical peels. You can wear makeup, but how soon after a chemical peel or which products to use should be discussed with your dermatologist.
This information is not a substitute for advice from a medical professional. It is strongly advised that anyone interested in treatment should conduct further research on doctors, methods, and effects.