Chemical skin peels are, in my opinion, one of the most effective all round skin treatments available. Skin peels have really advanced over the last several years and deliver fantastic results with minimal downtime, and committing to regular peels will maintain a beautifully radiant and vibrant complexion, coupled with all the anti ageing benefits you would expect from clinical facials.
So what is a chemical peel, exactly?
A chemical peel is a treatment that uses a chemical solution to exfoliate the skin (rather than manual exfoliation such as microdermabrasion for example). Depending on the depth of the peel and formulation of the solution used, chemical peels can also stimulate the production of new skin cells.
Types of peels
The most gentle form of peel which is usually derived from fruit acids. They work to exfoliate and ‘dissolve’ dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, this allows for surface exfoliation and increased cell turnover, leading to a fresher, more glowing skin. These are gentle peels that can usually be tolerated by even sensitive skin.
AHA and BHA peels
Otherwise known as alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids, these peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. They fall into the category of light to medium depth peels dependent on the strength and formulation a practitioner uses, even a very superficial peel can yield great results. These peels are not painful - you will most likely feel a tingling sensation and your skin may be a bit pink at first, but it will then look instantly brighter and over time will get noticeably smoother.
TCA face peels
Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) peels are considered to be more medium/deep depth peels and help to treat pigmentation, sun damage and wrinkles. These peels can be more uncomfortable than the superficial peels and you will have more side effects, such as swelling and redness. You will most likely also need some recovery time where your skin will noticeably peel, so it’s best to do these treatments over a period of time when you can rest at home for up to a week.
What conditions do peels work on?
The beauty of skin peels is that there are peels to suit a whole host of different skin concerns; the appearance of fine lines, improving the appearance of acne scarring and skin discolouration such as age spots, improving skin texture and tone. The most important thing is to find a practitioner who is skilled in peels and can choose a formulation and carry out the procedure that is exactly right for your skin, this knowledge and experience should ensure a safe and effective treatment..
Are peels painful?
The sensation of the peel will largely depend on the depth of peel you are having and the type of peel formulation used. The lightest most superficial peels are not painful at all and may cause little or no tingling. Peels that penetrate more deeply can cause a stinging or burning sensation whilst they are on the skin - though this is generally only a matter of minutes before the peel is neutralised and removed.
How long should I wait before applying make-up after a peel?
For the best results, I would always recommend leaving your skin bare for around 24 hours after your treatment, or alternatively using mineral based make-up.
Is it safe to do a peel during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, skin can become more sensitive due to hormonal changes, so I would recommend a very gentle enzyme based peel over an acid based peel for skin resurfacing and maintenance. Always follow the instructions and guidelines on your product or from your practitioner.
How often should I do a chemical peel?
This very much depends on your individual skin concerns, skin type, peel formulation and time of year and is best discussed with your practitioner. Superficial peels can be used between once a week and once a month for skin maintenance while deeper peels should be done less often, and ideally not during the summer or periods of prolonged sun exposure.