#ChemicalPeel101: Everything you need to know about chemical peels
Given the level of protection the skin gives us, it is an understatement to say that it serves as a wall-like barrier—because the truth is, it’s more than just that.
Every day, our skin gets exposed to environmental pollutants, ultraviolet radiation, and other toxic chemicals. Once these harmful substances, microbes, and/or miniscule, airborne pollutants penetrate the deepest layer of our skin, they can cause acne-like breakouts, hyperpigmentation, premature aging, and worse, cancer.
But mind you, the list of consequences doesn’t just end there. So when it comes to promoting healthy skin, we at Favful consider it as a friend who needs that, you know, extra TLC.
So instead of looking at your clear skin journey like a “constant battle” with your genetics, learn how to maintain the balance between give and take. Meaning to say, in order for your skin to function well, you must know how to treat it right. Just like any relationships. Heh.
For those who have been dreaming to have that healthy and smooth-looking skin, there’s now a wide range of facial treatments that you can try to prevent or eliminate acne scars, age spots, wrinkles, and more. With a number of cosmetic solutions being offered by skin clinics here and there, we sometimes find it hard to decide which of these are really suitable for us.
So, before getting completely lost in this world of skincare and beauty treatments, allow us to give you a list of the most common non-surgical skin procedures out there:
1. Microdermabrasion works to remove age spots and lighter acne scars.2. Laser skin resurfacing removes the outer layers of the skin that are damaged.3. Chemical peels heal acne scars and correct skin irregularities caused by sun overexposure.
Since we don’t want to bore you with a full-blown discussion on the “different types of skin treatments,” this article will only highlight one of the widely-used skin refining techniques today, chemical peels. Usually, when dermatologists recommend their clients to get a chemical peel, their initial reaction is to get scared—knowing that there’s a type of chemical solution involved in the procedure.
So is chemical peel good for the skin? And how does it work?
Although the name does sound like a super villain, a chemical peel (also known as derma peeling) is actually considered as one of the most effective skin treatments in terms of healing acne scars, reducing fine lines, and correcting uneven skin tone. Another interesting fact about this is that this treatment has been around ever since the mid-1800s.
During this procedure, a dermatologist often applies one or two chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol), to the area being treated (face, neck, and hands). Once the application is over, its natural healing process will start—peeling off the outer layers of dead skin to make way for new skin cells.
The result? Skin that is less damaged, smoother, and fresh-looking.
In other words, a god or goddess.
How to choose the right chemical peel?
When choosing the most appropriate peel for you, it usually depends on your goals and the skin problems you want to remedy with this procedure. Skin experts nowadays use a Fitzpatrick scale—a scientific skin type classification developed by Harvard dermatologist Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975—to identify a person’s skin type as well as the amount of melanin that is present in the skin.
There are different types of chemical peels to consider, ranging from how severe your skin problems may be.
Light chemical peel (also known as superficial peel) doesn’t take a long time to be done. The idea for this is to penetrate your skin minimally, exfoliate gently and treat only very mild skin problems. It usually contains mandelic, lactic or low strength salicylic acids.
Medium peel is meant to penetrate up until the middle layer of skin and treat moderate skin problems such as superficial scarring, wrinkles, discolorations, and age spots. Some have even been used medically to treat precancerous skin growths. Usually, it contains a high percentage of glycolic acid.
Deep peel helps with severe scarring and deep wrinkles. However, you should never do these at home, as this is for professionals only.
What are the side effects?
As with any treatment in which chemicals and acids are used, this treatment is not without some risks. So always read your prescription very carefully.
To start off, redness, when the treatment goes slightly wrong, your skin may get irritated, maybe even up to months if things really go sour. This is of course the last thing you’d want and it’s important to note that complications like this (called erythema) only happens in about 2% of all cases.
There’s also a huge chance that your skin may get a bit darker (hyperpigmentation), which is a bigger risk factor for people with darker skin tones—and unfortunately, these changes can become permanent. These side effects are more common with beauty products.
To be safe, we do not recommend it for anyone with a history of frequent outbreaks of cold sores, people with darker skin and conditions resulting in abnormal skin pigmentation.
Note: The chemical peel recovery time can last from 7 to 14 days.
Face peeling treatment at home
But, what if you don’t have time and money to see a dermatologist? Can you still do a chemical peel at home? The answer is yes and no. If you’re only treating mild skin problems, you can do a light chemical peel. Otherwise, always consult a professional on this.
When it’s time to look at which chemical peels to purchase, make sure to read the label carefully, do a patch test first, and stick to the best chemical peels:
Beta-hydroxy acids (or salicylic acid) for unclogging pores and clearing up acne lesions.
Glycolic and lactic acids (AHAs) for removing dead skin cells.
Fruit enzymes for glowing skin.
Retino for boosting collagen production.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) for stimulating new skin cells.
Since the skin becomes more sensitive after a peel, it’s best to use gentle skincare products. At Favful, we recommend brands that can surely provide additional moisture and nourishment to the affected area.
Dr Jart Cicapair Cream