Posted May 20, 2022 in Blog
Tried-and-true chemical peels are a mainstay of healthy skin, and there’s a reason why so many skincare experts rely on them: simply put, they work.
Chemical peels are great for your skin and are a go-to solution for treating many skin issues like acne, pigmentation, sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, etc. Despite the advent of lasers, chemical peels remain at the forefront of a well-rounded skincare routine. They are often used in tandem with energy-based modalities to achieve the desired end goal.
But just what is a chemical peel, and how do they work? There’s a lot to unpack with chemical peels to understand why they benefit the skin.
The first uses of chemical peels date back thousands of years. Cleopatra is said to have bathed in sour milk (better known as modern-day lactic acid) to exfoliate and smooth the skin. The use of acids to improve the skin’s health has only continued to grow from then on.
Acid-based chemical peels are great for the skin because they use a method of chemical exfoliation to safely lift away dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. As the skin heals from the peeling, it imparts a natural healing and regenerative process that stimulates collagen production. Although the skin naturally exfoliates itself, the use of chemical peels ramps that process into overdrive for better results faster.
Chemical peels range in strength and depth, and while some give a superficial sloughing of the skin, others go deeper into the skin for a dramatic effect. Of course, your skin tone, type, and the goal you want to achieve all dictate which kind of peel is best for you.
The Types of Chemical Peels
There are three types of chemical peels that are beneficial to the skin:
1. Superficial peels: These are the lightest chemical peels and work just on the outermost layer of the skin to remove dead skin buildup. By eliminating these dead skins, the complexion appears brighter and fresher with less dullness.
The most popular acids used in lighter chemical peels are lactic, citric, glycolic, and salicylic acids, TCA, modified Jessner’s solution, and retinol. Your doctor can also use a combination of acids.
Light chemical peels work well for treating:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Mild to moderate acne and acne scars
- Uneven texture
2. Medium-strength peels: A step up in potency from superficial peels, medium-strength chemical peels penetrate the entire epidermal layer to exfoliate. Because these peels reach a deeper layer of the skin, they work well for improving:
- Acne scars
- Lines and wrinkles
- Sunspots and sun damage
- Minor laxity
- Uneven skin tone and texture
Like superficial chemical peels, medium-strength peels often employ TCA, glycolic acid, and Jessner’s solutions at higher concentrations for deeper penetration.
3. Deep peels: As their name suggests, deep chemical peels go the deepest into the skin, giving the most dramatic results. But, unlike the other options, these are the most invasive and should only be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. Deeper peels can cause pigmentation issues, so most doctors recommend them for lighter skin tones.
Deep chemical peels help improve:
- Acne scars
- Lax skin
- Lines and wrinkles
- Uneven skin texture and tone
- Pigmentation and sun damage
Since each chemical peel works a little differently, the amount of downtime varies. The lighter the peel, the less shedding you’ll see, but even lighter peels can still provide a hefty dose of exfoliation. Avoiding the sun and keeping the skin well hydrated is key during the recovery process.
So, Are Chemical Peels Good for Your Skin?
There’s no denying that chemical peels are good for your skin. However, chemical peels offer a layer of exfoliation that at-home and over-the-counter products can’t achieve.
If pigmentation, scars, acne breakouts, fine lines and wrinkles, and sun damage are some of your pressing skin concerns, you may want to consider a chemical peel. With the guidance of your practitioner, together, you can discuss which peel is best for your skin, budget, and schedule.