What You Need to Know About Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are a facial rejuvenation treatment that has been used for hundreds of years. They involve having an acid solution applied to the skin, most commonly on the face, though some peeling solutions are suitable for other areas of the body. They work by removing the most superficial layers of the skin, with the amount of layers depending on the strength of the peeling solution and the depth of treatment desired. The chemical peel solution causes the top layers of the skin to crust and peel off to reveal the healthier, fresher skin underneath, giving the patient a more radiant appearance.
Why should I get a chemical peel?
Chemical peels can help treat a number of skin imperfections by exfoliating and removing dead and damaged skin cells and excess dirt and oil. With chemical peels, patients are able to smooth the skin, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also improving color and evening out skin tone. Skin peels are also able to brighten the skin and can help fade irregular marks. If you are looking to treat any of the following skin issues, then a chemical peel could be the right rejuvenating treatment for you:
- Diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles;
- Reduce or eliminate the appearance of blemishes and scars, including acne scars;
- Improve the appearance of melasma and hyperpigmentation;
- Reverse signs of aging caused by sun damage, such as sun spots;
- Enhance the overall look and feel of skin.
Types of chemical peels
While there are a number of ingredients that may be used in a chemical peel solution, there are a few that are more popular and effective than others. Here are some of the most common chemical peel ingredients:
- Glycolic acid – An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is commonly used in many over-the-counter cosmeceuticals, glycolic acid is a powerful exfoliant. It is a popular skincare ingredient due to its ability to brighten the skin and help treat issues such as scarring, discoloration, and fine lines and wrinkles.
- Salicylic acid – A beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and a type of phenolic acid, salicylic acid is one of the most popular ingredients for acne treatment. Its popularity in chemical peels is due to its ability to help treat acne, diminish large pores, and eliminate blackheads and whiteheads.
- Lactic Acid – Another alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid is one of the gentler ingredients used in chemical peel solutions. Because of its gentleness, it is great for patients with sensitive skin who wish to prevent premature signs of aging. It is great for treating sun damaged skin, and also helps fight acne and treat hyperpigmentation.
- Trichloroacetic acid – An acetic acid that is a favorite of many dermatologists, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is great for improving sun damaged skin. It is a great ingredient for chemical peels as it also helps to fade the appearance of darks spots and age spots, while also improving melasma and helping to diminish the fine lines.
- Resorcinol – Similar in composition to phenolic acid, resorcinol also helps to fight the signs of premature aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, and improve the overall look of the skin.
What are organic chemical peels?
There are different strengths available when receiving chemical peel treatment, all formulated to help certain issues and each suitable for different patients. Organic chemical peels are the gentlest of solutions and are typically able to be performed at home. They still use alpha and beta hydroxy acids, but generally make use of the gentlest versions of these acids and are fruit based. Fruit acids and enzymes are the main ingredients of organic chemical peels, and are most popularly sources from fruits like lemon, pineapple, apple, grape, and grapefruit. For a more advanced and effective peel, you would be looking for 1 of the following chemical peel depths:
- Light/superficial peels – These are best for patients with sensitive skin and are formulated for superficial skin issues and a general revitalizing effect.
- Medium peels – These are designed to treat issues that are a bit more severe, such as sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles. These are also the best option for patients with darker skin tones.
- Deep peels – These are the strongest chemical peels and are designed for deep scarring and lines. They require the longest amount of recovery time.
Benefits and risks of chemical peels:
Chemical peels are safe and effective, though there are pros and cons to receiving treatment. It is important to review all of the benefits and potential risks before deciding whether a chemical peel treatment is right for you.
- Can help give an overall rejuvenated appearance to the skin
- Can improve the appearance of wrinkles, irregular skin pigmentations, scars, and blemishes
- Can make skin feel softer and firmer
- Non-invasive treatment
- Side effects are typically mild and are only temporary
- Treatment is pain-free
- Light and medium peels require little recovery time
- May not help with deep-set wrinkles
- Can occasionally cause uneven pigmentation
- Patient will have dry and scaly skin for 3 to 7 days
- May cause scarring or burns if application is not done by a professional
- Deep peels can require up to 4 months recovery time and are not suitable for individuals with darker skin
Overall, chemical peels are a great way to revitalize the skin. Speak to a doctor about your options!