Cosmetics (2)

Types of Chemical Peels

If you want a solution for addressing fine lines, sun damage, collagen loss, slowed elastin production, uneven pigmentation, current breakouts, acne scars, redness, and other signs of aging, a chemical peel is an excellent option. Depending on what your needs are and how sensitive your skin is, chemical peels are a great way to rejuvenate your skin during the drier months. If you’re unfamiliar with facial peels, the concept might be quite daunting, but the effects of chemical peels can be great. Getting clinical chemical peel treatments can help reset your baseline and reveal beautiful skin underneath any damaged skin cells.

A chemical peel is a type of skin resurfacing treatment that removes damaged outer layers of dead skin, allowing a fresh, new layer of skin cells to naturally emerge. Chemical peels consist of an exfoliating acid solution (acids that are naturally derived and gentle on the skin) designed to enhance the skin’s appearance. Through a process of chemical exfoliation, chemical peels can stimulate cell turnover, which in turn unclogs pores and corrects skin discoloration, giving the skin a vibrant glow. Chemical peels rely on a variety of acid types, including glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and trichloroacetic acid (TCA).

Aside from various acid solutions, the different types of chemical peels fall into three categories: superficial, medium, and deep. Within those three major classifications are four common types of peels: Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels, Beta Hydroxy Acid Peels, Trichloroacetic Acid Peels, and Phenol Peels. Different chemical solutions provide different results, some of which are better suited for certain skin types and conditions. Chemical peels are non-invasive and you’ll often see early improvements such as tighter feeling skin and a brighter complexion. As previously mentioned, by stimulating the regeneration process, chemical peels can help boost collagen and elastin, improve elasticity, even out skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Choosing the correct chemical peel for your skin type and skin condition is the most important aspect of chemical peel treatment. The choice of chemical depends on your goal and should be discussed with an expert to determine the depth of the peel your skin will tolerate. Discussed below are three different types of peels and the effects they provide.

  • Superficial Chemical Peels –
    A superficial chemical peel (the lightest of peels) is the mildest option, targeting the outer layer of the epidermis. It can help minimize the appearance of pores and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone and reduce dark spots. This type of skin peel typically uses alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic, salicylic, lactic, malic, kojic, or a combination of these acids. However, enzymes can also be used to penetrate the outer layer of the skin.

    • A light chemical peel provides subtle improvement over time and is often done in a series of visits. This choice may be best if you have fine lines, acne, uneven skin coloring, or dry, rough sun-damaged skin to help promote a healthy glow. Though superficial peels are generally gentle on the skin, you might notice some redness shortly after and potentially some minimal flaking. A medical-grade light peel will usually heal within a few hours to one to seven days, but you can most likely wear makeup the next day.
  • Medium Chemical Peels:
    Medium-depth peels penetrate the outer and middle layers of skin, making it more effective to remove damaged skin cells, and ultimately giving your skin a smoother fresher look. This choice may be best if you have uneven or moderate skin discoloration, age spots, acne scarring, or fine-to-moderate wrinkles.

    • Medium-depth peels usually have a relatively high concentration of glycolic, lactic, salicylic, or most commonly used trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Because they require the application of a strong acid, medium-depth peels aren’t typically made available for spa facials. After getting a medium peel, you can expect some redness afterward. These types of peels leave skin raw and red, and patients must frequently apply ointment to protect the newly exposed skin beneath. Recovery from this type of peel may take one to two weeks to heal and require some downtime.
    • A trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel is a medium-depth peel that is used to treat age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles, and moderate skin discolorations and can provide modest tightening for sun-damaged skin. Whereas superficial peels only penetrate the outer layer, TCA facial peels penetrate all five layers of the epidermis to the papillary layer (upper layer of the dermis) to improve the appearance of skin. TCA peels are suitable for darker-skinned patients, unlike deep peels that can cause permanent bleaching effects on the skin.
  • Deep Chemical Peels:
    Deep chemical peels are the most intense as they fully penetrate the deeper layers of your skin to remove severely damaged skin cells. This choice may be best if you have moderate lines and wrinkles, extensive sun-damaged skin, deep acne scars, freckles, blotchy skin, and/or precancerous growths called actinic keratosis. The most common acids used in a deep chemical peel are glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, and phenol.

    • Phenol peels are the deepest-penetrating chemical peel and can provide the most dramatic results with the ability to reverse deep-set signs of aging. A full-faced procedure will take about one or two hours to perform, during which patients will experience a slight burning sensation. After the peel is neutralized, petroleum jelly is applied over the application area, which begins crusting almost immediately. This type of peel requires more recovery time, but they offer long-lasting dramatic facial rejuvenation. A deep chemical peel is a one-time only treatment and requires pretreatment for up to eight weeks. With a higher concentration of acids, most people have red skin following deep chemical peels, and usually takes two to three weeks to heal. Generally, light-haired and fair-skinned people are the best candidates for deep chemical peels. Since deep peels can cause hypopigmentation (skin lightening), they may not be the best choice for darker skin tones.

When conducted by a board-certified dermatologist, plastic surgeon, licensed healthcare provider, or trained skincare specialist, chemical peels are exceptionally safe. Depending on the type, strength, and PH content of the chemical peel, it may only be provided by an authorized physician. Superficial peels can generally be performed by a licensed aesthetician, whereas deeper peels require a licensed medical professional. A chemical peel experience provided by a certified medical professional will provide you with the tailored chemical peel experience you need in order to achieve optimal results as they are incredibly knowledgeable about how chemical solutions will affect different skin types and skin conditions. It’s essential to follow your provider’s post op instructions carefully.

A medical-grade chemical peel can do wonders for your complexion. For best results, you’ll want to prepare your skin before getting treatment. Leading up to your appointment, using high-quality products that can make your skin more receptive to the procedure and supporting the recovery process is very important. Our non-irritating Gentle Foaming Cleanser and calming Soothing Moisturizer are great picks.

To make the most of your clinical treatment, we recommend implementing an at-home daily skincare routine. Think of it like seeing the dentist twice a year and maintaining healthy teeth by brushing and flossing in between. Adding our Encapsulated Retinol Serum to your skincare routine helps maintain skin health with volumizing and lifting ingredients to help combat the visible signs of aging.

All types of chemical peels can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so consider wearing tinted sunscreen. Tinted sunscreen is not only helpful after a treatment to help cover redness, but also on an ongoing basis for even, glowing skin. As a friendly reminder, sun exposure and smoking after a chemical peel must be avoided because they can cause unwanted side effects, including infection and scarring.

Written by Kimberly P.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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