The skin is the primary source of protection our body has. It is the largest external organ of the body. It serves as our covering, keeping unwanted germs that can cause illnesses from penetrating through our body.
Fun fact: the body replaces 30,000 to 40,000 old and dead skin cells every single day!
The dead skin cells that the body discards rests on the top layer of the epidermis. When these cells are not removed completely and get stuck on the surface or within the layers beneath the skin, they can cause a build-up of bacteria, which can result to skin irritation and swelling. Aside from the regular washing and cleansing of the face, exfoliating is also recommended to ensure that the dead skin is eliminated from the face to enable the new skin to resurface.
Exfoliation can be done physically or chemically. This article will focus on the different exfoliation methods using chemical peels.
What is Chemical Exfoliation?
Chemical exfoliation is the removal of dead skin cells with the use of gentle acids or enzymes from fruit. Exfoliation has been used since ancient times, dating back to the era of the Grecian, Egyptian, and Roman empires.
What are Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels are a combination of different substances like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids that may be done by individuals at home (home peels) or administered by a dermatologist (professional peels). The peels are applied to the surface of the skin. As the active ingredients in the chemical peels work, the dead cells are rid off, allowing the collagen and new cells to form.
Home peels have acids that are less concentrated as compared to professional peels. Due to its gentler components, home peels may not be able to give the skin the same results that professional peels offer. Home peels, despite regular use, are not able to address skin impurities that go deeper into the dermis.
What are the skin impurities that Chemical Peels treat?
Chemical peels can treat different kinds of skin impurities, such as:
- Excess facial oil production
- Fine lines
- Mild wrinkles
What are the different kinds of Chemical Peels?
There are several kinds of chemical peels available that are used specifically to treat certain skin conditions. The table below enumerates each.
| TYPE OF |
|Alpha-Hydroxy (AHA) Peel||Gentle acid peels in the form of lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid.|
This type of superficial peel works by separating the dead skin cells on the topmost layer of the skin, allowing for its easier removal.
|Can address acne that is mild to moderate in severity.||Results are short-term and are more prone to side effects.|
Skin discolouration may also happen, especially to those with darker skin tones.
|Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Peel||Recommended for people who suffer from acne. BHAs are oil-soluble and are stronger than AHAs. The active ingredient used in BHA is salicin.|
BHAs work by seeping deep into the pores of the skin, breaking impurities, and eliminating them as the old skin is replaced.
|BHAs have antibacterial properties that help cleanse and suppress skin inflammation. It is recommended for an individual with oily and acne-prone skin.|
As compared to AHA peels, patients can expect to see minor peeling and skin discolouration after use.
|Salicin, which is the active ingredient and is also found in aspirin, may cause side effects for people who are allergic to aspirin.|
|Jessner’s Peel||Jessner’s peel is a mild solution that is a combination of lactic and salicylic acid.||This chemical peel is perfect for treating uneven skin tone brought about by hyperpigmentation. It is also effective in purging clogged pores and addressing mild acne.||Not recommended for individuals who are allergic to aspirin due to the salicylic acid content.|
|Phenol Peel||Uses carbolic acid and penetrates through the deepest layers of the skin.||Produces remarkable improvements for moderate to severe wrinkles.||People with extremely sensitive skin are advised not to try this chemical peel as it can cause burning and skin scarring.|
|Trichloracetic Acid Peel (TCA)||TCA peels saturate the layers beneath the surface of the skin and effectively rid the skin of imperfections.||Improves hyperpigmentation and acne scars.|
TCA peels are also effective in improving symptoms of ageing.
|This chemical peel may cause swelling, bruising and scarring.|
Requires a few days of downtime to allow the skin to recover.
Should I do a home or a professional chemical peel?
Choosing whether to do a home or chemical peel will depend on certain factors, such as the kind of skin condition you want to address, costs, and downtime. Home peels are cheaper compared to peels done in clinics. At the same time, it saves you time as you can do it at your own convenience. However, home peels are milder compared to professional peels and may produce minimal outcomes when the treated areas concern the deeper portions of the skin. Likewise, improper use of these solutions may worsen your skin’s current state.
Chemical peels produce more efficient improvements, but they may require several days for rest and healing of the skin. They are also costly and may involve more risk and side effects since the solutions used contain stronger and more concentrated acids.
What are precautions when considering chemical peels?
People with skin that is hypersensitive are advised to steer clear of chemical peels, as this can trigger skin allergies. Likewise, those who are diagnosed with psoriasis and dermatitis can only aggravate their skin condition with peels. Skin that is raw from sunburn or tanning should not undergo chemical peels as well.
What is expected after a chemical peel?
Redness and minor inflammation may be present after an application of a chemical peel solution. As the peel works to slough the dead skin off, expect dryness and flaking in the coming days. This should not last more than a week.
When all the dead skin is eliminated, new skin will resurface. For professional chemical peels, improvements like the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles can be expected. Acne sufferers can expect to see their skin clear up gradually. Devoid of any bad reaction to the chemicals, patients can enjoy glowing and radiant skin.
What are some tips in caring for the skin after a chemical peel?
The skin needs to be treated gently after its exposure to a chemical peel. Facial scrubs or cleansers that also contain acids such as AHA, BHA, and retinoids should not be used as they may irritate the skin as it is healing.
Always remember to use sunscreen, even when indoors, to avoid developing hyperpigmentation. Be extra vigilant in protecting the skin from sun rays and use hats or umbrellas whenever there is a need for you to step outdoors under the heat of the sun.
Since the skin will be very dry, apply moisturizers to keep it hydrated. The skin should also not be exposed to saunas and steam, as this will only add to its dryness.
Keep hands off the face when the skin begins to chap off. Picking on scabs can lead to infections, pigmentation, wounding, and scarring of the skin. Allow the dead skin to fall off naturally.
Can chemical peels be done consecutively?
An interval of three weeks to a month is advised when getting chemical peels. The time in between treatments is crucial to give the skin ample time to heal and regenerate new cells.
How many sessions are needed to be able to achieve optimum results?
Achieving optimum results with the use of chemical peels will depend on the severity of the skin’s condition and the type of treatment used. It is best to consult with an aesthetic practitioner to be sure that your skin is getting the proper care it needs.