What is a chemical peel?
Chemical peels are any variety of acidic solutions that are applied to the skin. They loosen the bonds between cells in the outermost layer of skin, which then allows them to slough off over the following days to reveal the fresher, younger layer below. Peels are very effective in treating a large range of skin concerns such as aging, sun damage, acne, mild scarring, improving skin brightness, and evening skin tone.
Estheticians who are not working in a medical setting perform light to moderate peels only; which require no downtime from everyday activities. Deep peels can only be performed by a physician, or under a physician’s supervision, for your safety.
Preparing for treatment
Your esthetician will review any contraindications with you prior to your treatment to determine if a chemical peel is right for you. Individuals using retinol, Alpha-Hydroxy acids, topical acne medications, or any product which is drying or irritating must stop using these at least 2-3 days before the peel appointment. Consult your doctor before temporarily discontinuing any prescription medications.
Please book a consultation about a week prior to your first peel and be sure to answer all questions honestly & completely on your consultation form.
What to expect during a chemical peel
The skin is cleansed and a prep solution will be applied to remove surface oils and allow the peel to penetrate the skin evenly. Any sensitive areas, such as the eyes, will be protected. One or more chemical mixtures will be applied, such as glycolic acid (from sugar cane), salicylic acid (wintergreen—good for acne), lactic acid (from milk), or a combination peel called a Jessners peel. The peel may be applied in layers, depending on the depth of penetration intended. The acids react with the skin to produce a “controlled wound,” allowing fresh skin to regenerate and emerge. A tingling, burning or hot sensation is normal. Most peels remain on the skin only a few minutes, and are closely watched by the esthetician. A fan may help you stay more comfortable. After some peels, a neutralizing solution is applied to stop the peel. Other peels are self-timed and stop on their own.
What to expect after a chemical peel
After a peel, the skin will look bright and may be pinkish. It is vital to apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater to the skin for the next 48 hours, minimum. You must also stay out of direct sun, as your skin will be very sensitive to UV rays and could be damaged by sun exposure. Overheating the skin in any way should also be avoided in the initial period following the peel.
The skin may begin to flake or peel within 2–3 days after the treatment, or may not produce any visible peeling. Sun-damaged areas of your skin will appear darker at first, then will lighten. This is normal.
For maximum results, a series of peels is usually recommended, and may be necessary for treating challenging issues such as hyperpigmentation.
What about home care?
Your esthetician will recommend healing products to use for the week or two following your peel. These will soothe and nourish your skin, and aid in its recovery. Usually it is best to avoid makeup during this time, to allow the skin to heal and function without interference. However, if you must wear makeup, mineral makeup will not adversely affect the skin.