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An Esthticians Guide to Using Light Chemical Peels on Sensitive Skin

Do you often hesitate regarding chemical peels due to your sensitive skin?

The term might sound daunting, conjuring images of harsh chemicals applied to your delicate facial skin.

However, even sensitive skin, which may sometimes be dry and need rejuvenation, can benefit from a gentle chemical peel.

Yes, you read that right!

But before you recoil in horror, let’s reframe how we think about these treatments.

At NC, we prefer to use terms like “brighten,” “refresh,” and “renew” rather than focusing on the word “chemical.”

Embrace the idea of gentle exfoliation with ingredients like lactic acid, AHAs, or enzymes.

So you can discover the transformative benefits of these peels for your sensitive skin.

Peels for Sensitive Skin

When it comes to sensitive skin, opting for low concentrations of AHAs is the safest bet.

These gentle exfoliants improve hydration, refine skin texture, and address fine lines and uneven skin tone without irritating.

While it may be tempting to resort to harsh exfoliating scrubs, they can harm your skin by causing micro-tears and disrupting its natural barrier function.

Instead, consider the beautifying benefits of a light chemical peel.

Despite the intimidating name, these peels can effectively increase cell turnover, fade dark spots, combat breakouts, smooth wrinkles, and banish flakiness, even for sensitive skin types.

So, if you’ve been hesitant to try chemical peels due to sensitivity, fear not! The Naked Chemist team is here to guide you toward radiant, revitalised skin.

Types of Peels for Sensitive Skin

Superficial peels are optimal for sensitive skin types, offering gentle exfoliation and hydration while effectively addressing discolouration.

These skin-friendly peels harness the power of gentle enzymes such as papaya, pineapple, and lactic acid, delicately resurfacing the skin without irritating it.

Although the results from your initial peel may not be immediately apparent due to their gentle nature, after two or three sessions—provided your skin tolerates them well—you’ll notice significant improvements visible to the naked eye.

However, the efficacy of any light chemical peel hinges on various factors, including the type and concentration of the peel, as well as additional ingredients present in your chosen product.

Let’s delve further into light chemical peel solutions to understand their impact on achieving optimal results.

Types of Peels to Use on Your Sensitive Skin

When choosing the right peel for sensitive skin, several options are available, each offering gentle yet effective exfoliation without causing irritation. Here are the top two picks:

  1. Enzyme Peels: These peels are considered the lightest chemical peel solutions derived from natural sources such as fruits. Enzyme peels are ideal for individuals with reactive skin who may not tolerate traditional acids well but still require mild exfoliation. They gently remove dead skin cells and refine pores without increasing skin sensitivity, making them perfect for sensitive skin types.
  2. Lactic Acid: Lactic acid is an excellent choice for brightening and hydrating sensitive skin. Unlike some other acids, lactic acid also has a natural moisturising effect, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive and dry skin. Its gentle exfoliating properties help improve skin texture and tone without irritating.

Additionally, tartaric, malic, and citric acids are light chemical peel solutions that offer a milder alternative to prevalent acids like glycolic acid.

These acids have larger molecular structures, allowing them to penetrate the skin less profoundly and making them suitable for sensitive skin.

Formulas containing a combination of multiple acids at lower concentrations are often less irritating, providing effective exfoliation without causing discomfort for sensitive skin types.

About Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

These light chemical peel solutions are all based on alpha hydroxy acids.

They are excellent options for sensitive skin, offering gentle exfoliation without causing irritation.

Derived from fruits and flowers, these naturally occurring acids work by dissolving the “glue” that binds dead skin cells to the surface, allowing them to shed more easily.

Unlike beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), which are better suited for oily or combination skin types, AHAs are a safer choice for those with sensitive skin.

If you’re keen to delve deeper into the world of exfoliating sensitive skin, be sure to check out our comprehensive article for more valuable insights and tips.

Stronger Peels to Avoid

While there are many effective chemical peels available, there are some stronger options that we typically advise against for sensitive skin. Here are a few worth mentioning:

Ascorbic Acid: Although not technically a peel, ascorbic acid, a derivative of Vitamin C, is acid-based and encourages cellular renewal. While beneficial for some, it can be too harsh for sensitive skin. However, it’s an excellent choice for mature skin due to its ability to strengthen capillary walls and boost collagen production.

Glycolic Acid: This chemical peel solution comes in various strengths, ranging from 30% to 70%. With a low pH and small molecular structure, glycolic acid penetrates deeply into the skin. While effective for many, it can be too intense for sensitive skin types, potentially causing irritation and discomfort.

Beta Hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid): Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble hydroxy acid known for its ability to penetrate deep into pores, making it a popular choice for treating oily skin and acne. However, it can be too harsh for sensitive skin, especially when dealing with inflamed acne breakouts. Our Resq anti-blemish complex contains salicylic acid and is designed to flush out pore linings, effectively minimising breakouts and targeting acne.

While these stronger peels have their benefits, they may not be suitable for sensitive skin. It’s essential to assess your skin’s tolerance and consult with a skincare professional before incorporating them into your routine.

Caring for Your Skin After a Peel

Caring for your skin after a peel is essential to ensure optimal results and minimise potential side effects. While superficial peels typically result in mild facial redness, which usually resolves within 24 hours, it’s crucial to follow these post-peel care instructions:

  1. Keep your skin treated with cool water: Gently cleanse your skin with cool water to soothe any irritation and remove any residual peel solution.
  2. Do not pick: Avoid picking at your skin, as this can delay healing and may lead to scarring or post-inflammatory pigmentation.
  3. Moisturize: After a superficial peel, use light moisturisers that are not too occlusive, allowing your skin to breathe while providing hydration. Opt for products with humectants to keep your skin well-hydrated, such as a pure hyaluronic product like our H20 hydrating skin shot.
  4. Protect from the sun: It’s crucial to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, especially after a peel. We recommend scheduling peels during the winter months when UV exposure is lower and always wearing sunscreen with a high SPF to shield your skin from potential damage.

By following these post-peel care instructions, you can help ensure a smooth recovery and maintain the health and vitality of your skin.

To conclude. The naked truth

We appreciate that the concept of chemical peels—and the fact that you would willingly apply it to your sensitive skin, can make you want to run for the hills.

But the benefits of a light chemical peel should not be discounted.

Instead, the key to embracing peels if you have sensitive skin is to forget the word peel ever existed in your vocabulary.

Why? Using gentle options like low concentrations of AHAs, enzyme peels, and lactic acid ensures effective exfoliation while maintaining the skin’s integrity.

Harsher peels such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid should be approached cautiously due to their potential for irritation, especially for sensitive skin types.

You can promote healing and maximise results by following proper post-peel care, including gentle cleansing, avoiding picking, moisturising, and sun protection.

With a thoughtful approach to skincare and guidance from professionals like our Naked Chemist team of estheticians, you can confidently and safely navigate the world of chemical peels.

Helping you to achieve your skincare goals while keeping your sensitive skin happy and healthy.

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