Skin peels are a powerful tool in my esthetics toolbox that is often misunderstood. So I am here today to set the record straight on just a few of the questions I get in my treatment room.
Let's start out with what peels are. Peels are a substance applied to the skin that creates a chemical reaction. Each various peel will create a slightly different reaction. The whole purpose of applying a peel to the skin is to create a very controlled wound so that the skin responds with its amazing wound healing process. Does that mean a skin peel is a chemical burn? Well ish. Think about if you quickly brush a hot pan, your skin may turn red for a little bit vs if you pour hot bacon grease all over your hand you may end up with a third degree burn. A facial peel has different grades. The keyword is CONTROLLED. We want to create a very superficial wound that only affects the outermost layers of the skin, but strong enough that it starts that wound healing process.
How do peels work? Essentially peels are an exfoliation procedure. They take away some of the dead skin, change the pH of your skin, change the microbiome of your skin, and cause your body to respond to a wound. That's a lot of change for your skin, and to determine whether that is a good thing or not, your esthetician will need to know a lot about you, your lifestyle, your home care, and what changes you want to see in your skin.
Now let's take a look at some misconceptions about peels:
The more your skin peels after a treatment the better your results will be. Nope, not at all. The amount your skin peels varies from none to way too much. It's based on the kind of peel, the pH of the peel, the health of your skin, and the climate you live in, plus a few others. Skin peeling is actually just a side effect of the peel. The actual reaction in your skin and your skin's wound healing response will determine the results. For example, a lactic peel will cause actual pigment changes in your skin because lactic acid brightens. However a glycolic peel that is much stronger and has a much smaller molecule will cause peeling more but won't have much effect on the pigment in your skin. In addition, a glycolic peel with a pH of 3.0 won't cause your skin to peel as much as a glycolic peel with a pH of 1.2, even if they are the same strength. If you live in the mountains and have dry skin, you will peel more than someone who lives at sea level and enjoys the moist air on a daily basis. Someone who is diabetic will not get the same results with the same exact peel as someone who is not because their wound healing response is compromised. Peeling does not equal results. In fact, too much damage to the skin can cause adverse results. Unless scars are what you're going for, and I have always heard scars are sexy....
Peels require long down time. Most peels that are given in an esthetician's office are known as "lunchtime peels". This is because clients can whip into an esthetics room during their lunch hour, get the peel, and head right back to work. Now, all peels require some things to avoid, like heat, heavy make up, sweat, and the sun for a while. But you already wear SPF of 15 or higher on a daily basis....right? And some peels you may be red after for a little while. But for the most part, you won't have to hide in your house for the next month while you shed like a snake.
Sensitive skin can't be peeled. This may be a mind blower but peels are much better for sensitive skin than scrubs and microdermabrasion. Peels can help control cystic acne and rosacea very effectively. Now, a caveat to this: If your skin is broken and your barrier is impaired, no, peels are not a proper procedure for you. Remember, the goal of a peel is to wound the skin. If your skin is already in a wound healing stage, the goal should be to help it heal better and faster by strengthening it, not wounding it more.
One deep peel will make all my skin problems go away. Mmmm, that's a cute thought. Peels are always best done in a series. Causing a small wound to the skin that heals and then repeating that process will create better long term results because you're creating change over and over and over in your skin.
Peels alone will change my skin. Think of peels like the doctors visit for an illness. You'll usually get a shot to start you going, but you need to take the full 10 days of the medication, or the illness will come back. Skin treatments are the same. You need to use your at home care properly or you won't get the full results. You need to keep building the strength of your skin for wrinkles, you need to keep taking the melanin suppressants for hyperpigmentation, and you need to keep using the enzymes/zinc/vitamin B to keep the flare ups from acne and rosacea down.
My results weren't as good as my neighbors, my esthetician must have done something wrong. There are SO MANY variables in peels and people that results do vary immensely. Our bodies are not made up of one thing, we are a bunch of chemicals all strung together, and each person's make up is slightly different. Even small things such as taking an OTC antihistamine for seasonal allergies can effect the outcome of a peel. That's another reason why peel series are the best route. Peels can be adjusted as you go, using more layers, leaving it on longer or shorter, ect.
The biggest nugget I hope you take away from this little blog entry is that peels are not a one size fits all pair of fuzzy socks and it is extremely important you find an esthetician you're comfortable with that asks you lots of questions and understands the results you want to see. Can you get high level peels on Amazon? Yup. Should you use them? For the love of your beautiful face no! To get the most effective results you need a knowledge of why your skin is doing what it's doing, the most effective chemicals to treat that condition, how to use each different peel, and the best home care to continue treating the condition. Find you a licensed esthetician in your area that has advanced training in peels. Want to know what peel would suit your skin and treat your conditions the best? Sign up to get a peel guide emailed to you here! Love your beautiful face!