What Is A Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a skin treatment which is used to improve and smooth out the surface of the facial skin. A chemical solution is used to remove top layers of skin which allows the dead surface skin to peel off. The peeling process leads to new skin growth which is usually smoother, healthier and less wrinkled compared to the old skin. Chemical peels should be performed by aesthetic professionals such as aesthetic doctors, nurses and beauty therapists.
Which Peel is Right For Me?
There are three different types of peel, superficial, medium and deep peels, categorised by the strength of the acid solution used in the peel and how deeply they penetrate the skin. Deeper peels penetrate the skin further and would require greater recovery time.
Superficial Chemical Peel?
Superficial peels are a good option for many people as they have a gentler effect, require no pain relief, and can be used in more skin types, including darker skin tones, with little or no "down time" or recovery time. Whereas medium and deep chemical peels cannot be used in darker skin types and it may also take a few weeks for the skin to recover from the effects of the peeling, inflammation and redness.
What Skin Conditions are Peels used to treat:
- Acne- Superficial chemical peels exfoliate the skin, allowing dead skin cells to be removed more effectively, excess oils on the skin are also removed. This action unblocks hair follicles and pores and reducing the appearance of pimples and improving skin texture that is damaged by acne.
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles- especially under the eyes and around the mouth in sun damaged or ageing skin.
- Rough skin Texture- chemical peels can improve rough skin texture by increasing the amount of collagen in the upper layer of the skin.
- Lentigines (large freckles) which appear as dark spots on the skin, they are also called liver spots, or age spots- Large freckles can develop as a result of sun exposure and are present on sites which are exposed to excess sun such as face and arms and neck. A course of chemical peels can lighten large freckles and improve the appearance of sun damaged skin.
- Melasma- is a dark skin discoloration which appears as patches commonly found on the cheeks, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. It is common in women who are taking hormonal treatment in the form of contraceptives or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and pregnant women. A course of chemical peels can lighten the appearance of dark discoloured skin caused by melasma.
- Hyperpigmentation- caused by excess skin pigment in the skin which can result in uneven skin tone. Chemical peels can lighten and even out the tone and appearance of the skin.
- Superifical peels are suitable for ethnic skins.
- Superficial peels are also good preparation for medium and deep peels and are appropriate for serial applications and as a companion treatment for microdermabrasion or IPL. They can be performed prior to microdermabrasion if the skin can tolerate it to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.
Superficial Chemical Peels Cannot be Used for
- Superficial peels cannot eradicate deep lines and wrinkles, cure sagging skin due to sun damage or ageing or decrease the size of skin pores.
- Chemical peels should not be used in pregnant or breast feeding women
- If you have active cold sores or warts on the face
- If you have any inflamed rashes, skin reactions or open wounds on the skin
- Sunburn, need to wait 4 weeks after excessive sun exposure before having a peel
- If you have excessively sensitive skin, including atopic eczema or dermatitis, inflammatory rosacea in the area to be treated
- If you have a history of severe allergy or known allergy to the components of the peel including allergy to aspirin
- If you have taken Roaccutane (a medical treatment for severe acne), within the past 12 months
- If you have been treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy in the past 12 months
- If you have a history of keloid scarring
How Many Peels Do You Need?
Whilst you may see some very minor benefits after a single superficial peel, the best results are seen after a course of six peels, performed two weeks apart. Superficial peels are gentler and so the full benefits of the peels build up over a course of six treatments.
Do I Need to Prepare Before A Peel:
Six weeks before a peel you should stop any products containing retinol. Avoid electrolysis, waxing, hair removal creams and laser hair removal for an entire week prior to a chemical peel.
You may be advised to prepare the skin with products and creams for two weeks before the peel and to continue during and after the peel course. These products will improve the results of the peel and are especially important for those going on a course of peels.
What Is The Peel Procedure
During the peel your skin will be cleansed and toned and the chemical peel will be applied to your skin using a gentle brush, the peel will be left on the skin for between three and five minutes, during which time some patients may experience a mild tingling or a mild burning sensation. The procedure is not painful. After the peel a cool compresses is applied to the skin. Your skin will be moisturised and an antioxidant and a sun screen will be applied to the skin.
What Is The Chemical Peel Aftercare
After your peel you may notice that the skin is more red than usual for two hours afterwards, you may also notice that the skin feels tight or dry and or you may experience some very mild flaky skin for a few days. Rarely you may experience crusting of the skin, swelling or a reactivation of cold sores. Do not pick any spots or peel off flaky skin, avoid physical activity for 24 hours after your peel and facials for one week after your peel. It is very important to use a sunscreen during the course of your treatment and for four weeks after to prevent uneven skin tone and excess pigmentation.