Do you wish you could peel back the top-most layer of your acne or sun-damaged skin, to reveal a flawless, brighter complexion?
Then dousing your skin with gentle exfoliating acids may just be the key.
They are the perfect addition to your preventative and corrective skincare program.
And whilst they won’t permanently resolve your skin problems, they can help to encourage a radiant, smoother and more youthful-looking skin.
What is superficial peeling?
A chemical peel is the controlled wounding of the epidermis and dermis for aesthetic improvement.
Although the use of chemical peels dates to ancient Egyptian times, our understanding of the science behind chemical peeling as a treatment is still evolving.
Having a skin peel involves the process of applying gentle chemicals to your skin, in order to accelerate the normal process of exfoliation. The ultimate goal is to even out skin tone, minimise fine lines and balance a combination, oily skin type and prevent bothersome breakouts in their tracks.
The depth of the penetration of the peel will depend on the acid concentration and the timing of application, superficial peel ingredients are mild enough to be used as part of a monthly skincare routine, to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and age spots and can help even out the texture and tone of your skin.
Types of skin peeling ingredients used include: Glycolic acid an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) is water-soluble and found naturally in sugar cane. Other AHAs include citric from citrus fruit, malic from apples, tartaric from grapes and lactic acid from milk.
Beta-hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid, are lipid-soluble and target oil within the pore, to clear breakouts.
Common medium-depth chemical peels include 70% glycolic acid plus 35% TCA, JS plus 35% TCA, solid CO2 plus 35% TCA, and 88% phenol.
Benefits of superficial skin peeling
Improves the efficacy of skincare products: Peels remove the top layer of your skin, so it can help other products penetrate more easily.
Reveals clear, glowing skin: Skin peeling encourages the natural exfoliation process, weakening the intercellular glue that binds dead skin cells together, leading to a smooth stratum corneum that reflects a beautiful glow.
Targets acne: Superficial skin peeling helps with acne breakouts, essentially the lower the pH of your skin, the fewer bacteria are unable to survive. They also help remove the surface skin debris, leading to a healthier complexion with less clogged pores.
Refines fine lines: A peel will help to remove dead skin cells and lighten and brighten, gently resurfacing your skin. A medium-depth peel will help the most with wrinkle refinement. Our article on exfoliation and ageing and collagen synthesis is an interesting read, especially if this is an area of concern.
Superficial skin peeling ingredients
There are a couple of popular ingredients; you may want to consider:
Alpha hydroxy acids
AHA’S, in general, are considered very superficial, and percentages range vastly from 10% up to 70%
They offer many ancillary benefits, they are humectants offering moisturising qualities, it inhibits bacteria proliferation, reduces hyper-keratinisation and slows the melanogenesis process, this is why they make ideal topicals for lightening and brightening your skin.
Some studies suggest that alpha hydroxy acids also have the ability to promote collagen synthesis.
Glycolic acid is a good example of an alpha hydroxy acid. it is a highly water-soluble agent, and its popularity is due to its small molecular size, which allows for rapid penetration.
In formulations, it can be neutralised, which helps to slow down its penetration into your skin’s tissues; the un-buffered peeling solution is the safest form of glycolic, that causes fewer traumas to the skin.
Beta hydroxy acids
Salicylic acid is a phenolic compound with antimicrobial and depigmenting properties. It is safe to use on all Fitzpatrick skin types without inducing inflammation.
This ingredient is oil soluble, providing a nice contrast to water-soluble glycolic acid. Salicylic has the ability to dissolve follicular impactions, reducing acne lesions because it has keratolytic properties, which means it is able to penetrate deep into the pores, unplugging pores that are blocked with sebum, dead skin cells and debris.
Salicylic acid is also a self-neutralising ingredient, meaning it has great anti-inflammatory properties, making it perfect for those suffering from acne inflammation.
The correct application technique
- for home use, make sure your peel, contains no more than ten per cent acid, five per cent is ideal
- carry out a small patch test twenty-four hours before your treatment
- perform your patch test on your inner arm, if your skin burns or gets really irritated do not use
- thoroughly cleanse your skin before application
- apply with a small brush and leave it on for ten minutes, if your skin begins to tingle or burn, instantly apply water to the area as this will neutralise the acid and end the chemical reaction
- to remove rinse your skin with cold water
- apply a gentle moisturiser such as fortify barrier repair cream
- finally don’t forget to apply your sunscreen
Superficial chemical peels are a safe and reliable addition to your skincare routine.
Each of the aforementioned superficial skin peeling ingredients can create favourable changes within your skin; the variety of different peels and the opportunity for treatment customisation is encouraging, allowing you to treat specific skin conditions without inducing large amounts of inflammation, limiting complications.
If you are considering tyring a light peel at home, please use with care, because you can easily overdo on these chemicals; if you’re just pouring a formula onto a cotton ball, it is easy to overwhelm your skin; instead, look for a peel that delivers the same amount of acid every time. We suggest using one that comes on pre-soaked pads, or in a controlled delivery system.
This is an interesting article on the pros and cons of peels.