Sunday, November 29, 2009

Understanding Chemical Peels

Understanding Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a body/face treatment used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin using a chemical solution that causes the skin to die and eventually peel off. Every day, our skin is undergoing the normal process of discarding older, dead skin cells and replacing them with new, healthy cells. As we grow older, the time this process takes increases, meaning that the older skin cells stay in place for longer, causing our skins to look grey, dull and aged. Chemical peels accelerate this process in three different ways:

1. Resurfacing the outer layers of our skin stimulates upper skin cell growth, which helps to thicken the skin.

2. Peels “kill” the damaged cells, which will be replaced with healthier, normal cells by way of the skin’s natural wound healing process. Results are regenerated skin that is smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin

3. Deeper peels will stimulate the production of collagen within the skin layers.

Fiction and facts that you need to know about:

  • Peels never scar: Yes they can if you do not take proper care of your skin afterwards.
  • Peels are for every skin type: Some skins will not tolerate a chemical peel and other treatments need to be considered to resurface the skin
  • Peels always causes hyper-pigmentation: Only in cases where there is a lot of post-peel inflammation can this happen, or if you do not take proper care of your skin afterwards.
  • After a peel you can never go in the sun again: Not true, you only need to stay out of the sun for the recovery time. During this time you should use lots of at least a SPF 30.Of course, you should in any case always wear a SPF during day time.
  • Peels are better than a facelift:  No peel can take the place of a proper facelift. Please remember that a peel improves the quality of the skin whereas a facelift will get rid of the quantity of skin.
  • Peels take weeks to heal:  Recovery after very superficial peels should only take 2-3 days, but yes, some peels can take a lot longer to heal.

Who can have a chemical peel?
The decision to do a peel depends on the type, condition, reaction to sun exposure and age analysis of each skin. The therapist should also consider the client’s life style and working conditions. Only after a thorough consultation can the therapist decide which peel and strength to use.

How long will the skin take to heal?
Depending on the strength and type of peel, it can take from 1 to 15 days to heal. In most cases there will be no “down time” where you need to stay in bed or indoors for lengthy periods of time. If the client follows the aftercare instructions for a peel the risk of complications are few and the clients should be able to follow their normal life style and skin care routine without too much interruption.

How will the skin look and feel after the peel?
If a very superficial or superficial peel was used, the skin will be red and irritated for a day or two. A little flaking can be expected but usually most of the dead skin cells will come off during the client’s normal cleansing routine. Very sensitive skins will take longer to heal and the client can also expect a lot more irritation and flaking. The skin should be back to normal within 3-4 days.

With medium peels the skin will be red, irritated, stiff and uncomfortable for 3 -4 days. The skin will discolour and lots of flaking or sheet peeling will occur. The flaking can take up to 5 days, and the skin should be back to normal with a week.

With deeper peels like Phenol peels, the client can expect a lot of redness, eyes and face will swell up, irritation, stiffness, cracking and /or blistering will also occur. After a couple of days the skin will start to sheet peel and this can last for up to 10 days. The client may have to arrange to have someone around during the first couple of days to assist them in their daily routine

Alpha hydroxy acid or fruit acid peels
AHA peels are used for reducing fine wrinkling, treating areas of dryness, reducing uneven pigmentation, aiding in the control of acne, smoothing rough dry skin and improving the texture of sun-damaged skin.
There are five main fruit acids: citric acids (citrus-derived), glycolic (derived from sugar cane), lactic acid (although derived from milk, this is still considered a "fruit acid"), malic (derived from apples) and tartaric (derived from grapes).

Citric Acid: Usually derived from lemons, oranges, limes and pineapples. These peels are simple and effective, although not incredibly invasive or capable of significant improvement with one treatment.

Glycolic Acid: Formulated from sugar cane, this acid creates a mild exfoliating action. Glycolic acid peels work by loosening up the horny layer and exfoliating the superficial top layer. This peel also stimulates collagen growth.

Lactic Acid: This acid is derived from either sour milk or bilberries. This peel will remove dead skin cells, and promote healthier, softer and more radiant skin.

Malic Acid: This peel is the same type of mildly invasive peel derived from the extracts of apples. It can open up the pores, allow the pores to expel their sebum and reduce acne.

Tartaric Acid: This is derived from grape extract and is capable of delivering the same benefits as the above peels.

Beta hydroxy or salicylic acid peels
Salicylic acid is extracted from willow bark and has been studied for its effect on skin that has aged prematurely due to exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It penetrates oil-laden hair follicle openings and, as a result, helps with acne. Studies have shown that salicylic acid is less irritating than peels containing alpha-hydroxy acids, while providing similar improvement in skin texture and colour.

Jessner's peel
It is mainly used for oily and acne prone skins. Jessner's peel is a combination of 14% of each salicylic and lactic acids and resorcinol in a ethanol basis. It is a preferred peeling agent for some therapist due to is safe and superficial nature. It is difficult to “overpeel” with this treatment because of the mild percentages of the acid combinations.

Trichloroacetic acid peels
It smooths out fine surface wrinkles, removes superficial blemishes and corrects skin pigment problems. It is used as an intermediate to deep peeling agent in concentrations ranging from 10-30% used in salons and up to 50% in medical clinics. Depth of penetration is increased as concentration increases, with 50% penetrating into the reticular dermis. A TCA peel is the one of the best peels to offer, as all skin types can benefit from it.

Phenol peels
Phenol is the strongest of the chemical solutions and produces a deep skin peel. This peel is usually only administered by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. It is used for correcting blotches caused by sun exposure or aging, smoothing out coarse deep wrinkles and removing pre-cancerous growths. Effects are long lasting, and in some cases are still readily apparent up to 20 years following the procedure. Improvements in the patient’s skin can be quite dramatic. A single treatment usually achieves the desired result.

Designer Peels
Designer peels are the new kids on the block and more and more therapists choose to use these as they are pre-mixed and very safe to use. Most of the designer peels are time-regulated and take a lot of the risks out of the “observing” part of the other peels. It can treat all the indications of the other peels as described above. These peels usually have two or more peeling agents and/or other ingredients combined and lengthy, expensive pre-care treatments are seldom necessary. They deliver excellent results and depending on the peel used 2-3 treatments usually will give the desired results.

The end result
Done by well trained and experienced therapists, peels are very safe and quick treatments to resurface the skin and get rid of a large number of skin complaints. Follow the after-care instructions that you will receive from the therapist or doctor and you should have a clearer, brighter skin than before.

At Absolutely Gorgeous Beautique we offer different chemical peels for every skin type and problem. Please contact us at 082 398 9817 or have a look at the peels and products we offer at

Picture courtesy of Essel South Africa

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