Is a Chemical Peel Right for You?
The three types of chemical peels and how they affect your skin.
Chemical peels are known in the beauty world for their fast ability to smooth fine lines, reduce uneven skin tone (pigmentation), and increase cellular growth. In their most basic form, chemical peels use acid to help break down the top layer, or layers, of skin to reveal newer, younger skin cells for a brighter, more radiant complexion. When used as part of a healthy skincare and facial routine, chemical peels can help fight the aging process as well as minimize pimples and breakouts.
What types of chemical peels are there?
There are three types of chemical peels: superficial/mild, medium-depth, and deep chemical peels.
Superficial or Mild chemical peels
This type of chemical peel is commonly referred to as a ‘lunchtime’ chemical peel. Typical acids used in superficial peels include glycolic, salicylic, kojic acid and malic acid. It is relatively painless, requires little to no down time, and is recommended every 4-8 weeks to keep your skin looking bright and smooth. Mild chemical peels are great for younger skin types looking to maintain their healthy complexion and for treating fine lines and wrinkles, large pores and dark spots.
Medium-depth chemical peels
These types of chemical peels typically use trichloroacetic acid, or TCA, as a main ingredient and go deeper into the skin layers. Some dermatologists first perform a mild peel using AHAs, in order to make TCA more effective as a medium-depth peel agent. The Jessner solution, a popular medium-depth chemical peel, contains a combination of resorcinol, salicylic acid and glycolic acid. Medium-depth peels are great for treating acne, significant amounts of photodamage, sun spots, mild to moderate acne scars, and decreasing the appearance of deeper wrinkles and dark circles underneath the eye area.
Since medium-depth peels penetrate deeper, there is moderate pain associated for the first few hours following the procedure. Medium-depth peels also cause excessive pink or redness of the skin, which may not completely fade away until the skin has healed in 5-10 days. During this recovery period, you should apply an ointment to protect the new skin at all times.
Deep chemical peels
Deep skin peels penetrate all the way to the subcutaneous, or third and deepest, layer of skin and are the most invasive of all chemical peel treatments. TCA is the ingredient of choice for most deep peels, but the Jessner solution can be applied in layers to effectively create a deep chemical peel. Phenol is more ‘caustic’ than other acid ingredients, and may not be suitable for all types of skin.
These types of peels are used to treat melasma, deep wrinkles, scarring, sun damage, and precancerous growths of the skin. Typical downtime with deep peels is about 1-2 weeks, but could even last up to one month depending on your skin’s reaction. Darker skin tones should be extremely cautious with deep chemical peels, as scarring or hypopigmentation could occur more easily.
Does a chemical peel hurt?
Depending on the type of chemical peel received during treatment, you may feel a slight tingling sensation that dissolves after a few minutes or hours, or a warm sensation like a sunburn that lasts for a few days. Every skin reacts differently but the more frequently you receive a chemical peel, the less sensitive you will be to it. Of course, be very upfront with your esthetician before receiving a chemical peel, as Retinol or topical Vitamin A products can affect sensitivity.
At what age should you start getting a chemical peel?
There is no age limit on chemical peels, with some patients being as young as 16 years or with deep peels, as old as 70 years. Compared to other cosmetic treatments, chemical peels can be an incredibly cost-effective way to refresh the skin and treat aging issues before they even occur, too. No one skincare treatment is appropriate for everyone, and the best way to assess an option appropriate for your skin is to consult a medical professional.
Do chemical peels treat acne?
Yes, chemical peels can help treat cystic pimples, breakouts, and the scarring effects of acne. Your skin is unique, so talk to your provider about the best treatment course for long lasting effects.
How long does a chemical peel treatment take?
A typical chemical peel treatment can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. If you are coming in for a ‘lunchtime’ mild peel, then a quick cleanse, acid application, and post-treatment is all that it takes. If you are receiving a more rejuvenating facial or deeper peel, expect a longer treatment time.
Will my skin be red after a chemical peel?
As with all cosmetic treatments, every skin type is unique and can react differently with a chemical peel. If this is your first time receiving a peel, expect some pink or redness to occur. Depending on the depth of the peel, irritation should diminish within minutes or hours. The beauty with mild to medium-depth chemical peels is that they are quick and non-invasive, so do not expect a prolonged recovery period.
Can I perform a chemical peel at home?
If you are over 40 years of age or treating acne, daily exfoliant treatments containing mild acids are recommended at home to maintain professional results, but are not the same. Administering topical acids requires in-depth knowledge and experience, so the strength of an over the counter peel is going to be much lower than what’s given by a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or esthetician.
In the Kirkland area and ready to schedule your chemical peel?
Whether you are new to chemical peels and looking to maintain your complexion or a seasoned skincare advocate looking for a new way to treat fine lines, our friendly staff of medical professionals can help. Book your appointment or a free consultation today!