4 Things To Know About Chemical Peels
1. Peels are chemical exfoliants
Chemical peels are a method of exfoliating the skin – the process of removing dead skin cells, dirt, and other debris to reveal clean and youthful looking skin. Regularly exfoliating is an important aspect of any skincare regimen.
As opposed to manual exfoliation techniques like facial scrubs or Clarisonic brushes, peels use blends of acids or enzymes to exfoliate the skin. As such, peels may be a great alternative for people who experience irritation or redness from manual exfoliation methods.
However, it is important to not over-exfoliate, which can be detrimental to the skin. Make sure that you won’t “overdo it” by adding a peel into the mix.
2. Choose the best peel for your skin type
As with choosing any other skin care product, selecting a peel for your specific skin type is very important. Unsure what type of skin you have? Read this previous post.
Most peels are based on one of two hydroxyl acids: alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA):
- AHA: This is a more mild form of hydroxyl acid and as such is the better choice for both mature and dry skin types. AHA’s also provide the added bonus of helping the skin retain moisture (boosting hydration). AHA’s include glycolic, citric, and lactic acid, as well as natural fruit acids- which help exfoliate, brighten and promote cellular turn over.
- BHA: These forms of hydroxyl acid are stronger than AHA’s, making them better able to penetrate pores and clear debris. BHA’s are ideal for oily and acne-prone skin types.
Individuals with sensitive skin may want to opt for more mild peels, specifically those that are created from natural fruit enzymes. These types of peels are less likely to cause irritation and dryness.
3. Peel strength can also differs
Peels can be categorized by their strength. In general, the stronger the peel the more dramatic results it will provide. However, strong peels do require longer “downtime” compared to weaker peels.
Here are the three basic strength levels of peels:
- Superficial – The gentlest level of peel, this form only removes the very top layer of the epidermis. Superficial peels can provide improvements to skin brightness and smoothness of superficial fine lines. These superficial peels are recommended to be done 3-4 weeks apart to achieve optimal results. Most at-home peels would fall into this category but can be done in office.
- Medium – Medium peels are often derived from trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and are administered by a trained aesthetician or skin care provider. This level of peel requires more downtime than superficial peels, but it can address larger problems like sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
- Deep – Deep peels are traditional chemical peels that should be administered by a board certified dermatologist. This is the strongest type of peel, and as such they can cause great irritation to the skin. Deep peels can address scarring, deep lines, and major wrinkles.
4. Benefits beyond exfoliation
Beyond ridding the skin of old/dead skin cells, regular exfoliation also encourages healthy cellular turnover; spurring the creation of new skin cells. Cellular turnover can also stimulate the skin to produce more collagen. The result: your skin will look bright, youthful, and radiant!