Which Chemical Peel is most suitable for my skin?
While the term chemical peel sounds slightly intimidating, they are actually a very effective solution to a whole host of common skin concerns. It’s true that old fashioned peels were pretty hardcore; rather than just freshening up the surface of the skin, the acids used made the majority of the top layer of the face peel off and meant you needed to spend a week or so in hiding while the new, fresh skin frantically grew itself fast enough to repair the damage. That being said, the last decade has seen a huge resurgence in peels on offer in skin clinics. Today chemical peels are offered in a new format – as swift procedures packed with rejuvenating ingredients but without the pain and downtime of their predecessors.
Nowadays, rather than having one hardcore treatment, chemical peels are more likely to be offered as a course of more gentle peels, which still offer great results to improve skin texture, brighten the skin and soften pigmentation and wrinkles, but without the need to hide from the world afterwards.
What does a chemical peel do?
Chemical peels work to dissolve the build-up of dead skin cells, stubborn grime and excess oil on the surface of the skin to reveal a fresher surface beneath which makes for a complexion that’s smoother, reflects light better and absorbs skin products more effectively to maximise their performance.
There are a number of professional chemical peels now available in a variety of strengths, each catering to different skin concerns, from acne to pigmentation to fine lines, wrinkles and dullness.
The ingredients used in chemical peels – whether glycolic or salicylic acid or retinol – also stimulate skin repair in the lower levels of the skin, they thicken the dermis and improve its health, leaving your skin in better shape overall.
How long will I peel for?
The downtime for peels depends on the strength of the ingredients. Peels containing glycolic or lactic acid are usually mild and have no associated downtime apart from a small bit of shedding in the days afterwards.
Moderate peels, such as TCA or retinol peels, are stronger and may require a day or two of downtime, due to the flaking and peeling of the skin. Deep peels, like phenol peels, are used to treat deeper wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. These peels require more downtime as they penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin.
The peeling usually starts 3-4 days after treatment as the skin begins to slough off and shed its layers, continuing for 5-7 days depending on the intensity, depth and level of penetration.
What about an at-home peel?
Chemical peels performed in a clinic setting are always administered by a licensed and trained provider. At-home peels are usually less intensive than an in-clinic peel and so often they will target fines lines and more superficial wrinkles while only mildly improving discoloration issues. Peels performed under the guidance of a medical professional, can be performed at stronger concentrations, for better results.
If you’re battling acne, pigmentation or more significant lines most at-home peels won’t have a significant effect however they can be used to exfoliate the skin, resulting in a brighter complexion.
Which peel is best for me and how many treatments will I need?
The right chemical peel will depend on what your goals are for your skin and this decision is one for you to make under the guidance of your practitioner. As a general rule, if you’re looking to exfoliate the skin and boost radiance, improve superficial wrinkles or treat mild acne, a course of 3-6 mild chemical peels may be a good option. If you’d like to improve pigment irregularities such as dark spots or melasma, a short course of medium depth peels is likely to be more beneficial.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.