Are you concerned with acne, ageing, dryness or pigmentation?
Or maybe your skin is dull and your looking for some general rejuvenation.
Peels are touted by many as the secret to glowing skin, with rejuvenating effects being evident after just one session.
But with so many chemical peels available, there are certain nuances to be aware of —namely, the options available, your skin type and conditions being treated, and potential side effects.
So join us, as we delve under the skin and learn everything we need to know about the types of peels available.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a method in which a chemical solution is applied to your skin which penetrates the uppermost layers, allowing the peel to achieve a certain depth, depending on the type of peel and condition being treated.
This causes your skin to shed, targeting sun damage, lifting pigmentation, smoothing your skin, and treating acne and scarring.
Types of chemical peels
There are three types of chemical peels commonly used in facial treatments; which range in strength from mildly superficial to deeply resurfacing; they include alpha hydroxy acid peels, beta hydroxy acid peels, Jessner’s peels, retinoic acid peels, trichloroacetic acid peels (TCA), and phenol peels.
Superficial chemical peels
These are light peels that have a gentle action, penetrating the top layers of your skin the epidermis, they encourage new, more robust cells to form.
Ingredients most commonly used include alpha hydroxyl acids and salicylic acid, they are well tolerated and will cause only superficial injury to your skin:
Both alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids can be considered superficial peels, but this comes down to the strength used and duration.
Alpha hydroxy acid: Glycolic acid is one of the most common types of AHA’s; they range in concentrations from 30%-70%. They are an effective treatment for combating fine lines and wrinkles and breaking down light hyperpigmentation in your skin. Glycolic works by removing the outermost layer of your skin, leaving it looking fresh and rejuvenated in as little as just one use.
Beta hydroxy acid: This contains salicylic acid, which is commonly found in over-the-counter acne products of up to concentrations of 2%. It is a lipid-soluble agent, making it ideal if you have oily or acne-prone skin; as it penetrates clogged pores flushing them out, targeting acne bacteria that may be causing your skin to breakout.
There is minimal downtime with these light peels although some dryness may be present, one superficial peel alone won’t necessarily treat all your concerns, you may have to invest in the course of peels to see a marked improvement; ideally, a course of six to ten is recommended.
Follow the link to find out more about superficial peels.
Medium chemical peels
Medium peels work harder than superficial peels; they penetrate your deeper layer of skin the dermis, creating a deliberate wound similar to a sunburn.
They are used to treat pigmentation issues and signs of ageing because they can help to stimulate collagen synthesis, Medium peels can be used to treat the following conditions:
- coarse skin texture
- mild to moderate wrinkles
- mild to moderate acne
- hyper-pigmentation, melasma and photo-ageing, due to sun-damaged skin
- precancerous lesions of the skin, caused by too much exposure to the sun
The most common acid used is trichloracetic acid or TCA, which comes in concentrations of twenty-five to thirty-five per cent, or in combination with glycolic acid. These concentrations range in concentration from 15%-35%, but that comes with a higher risk of scarring, anything over thirty-five per cent needs to be applied by a doctor or dermatologist.
Whereas superficial peels only penetrate the stratum corneum, TCA peels penetrate to the papillary layer, the upper layer of your dermis to improve the skin’s appearance, so there is payback for all the hard work your skin has to do, and that is downtime, which is around a week.
Ideally, medium peels should be performed every six months to a year to maintain desired results.
These are referred to as phenol peels in the industry and are the deepest-penetrating peels. With so much to discuss, we have created a whole article which you can read about here.
Treated areas can be swollen and quite painful, and healing time can be slow, taking up to six weeks or longer before a significant improvement is seen.
You would normally be prescribed a daily soak followed by an ointment, as well as an antiviral medication and pain killers. Follow-ups are generally required.
As you can see, there are a number of different peel options available.
A question we are often asked in our clinic, are there side effects? This will depend on the strength of the peel you get, as some of the different types of chemical peels can cause your face to peel. Oftentimes, this is the desired effect to achieve optimal results—hence the name. However, if the wrong type of peel is used, it can really damage your skin and even scar or hyper-pigment your skin, so chose wisely.
Downtime is dependent on the type of chemical peel that is used because they vary in the depth that they penetrate your skin. The deeper the penetration, the more peeling will take place, and the more your skin will take on a pink/red hue, which is all part of the healing process.