CHEMICAL PEELS 101

Updated: Oct 10

Fall!! One of my favorite times of the year!! As the summer heat starts to die down and the cooler weather approaches, something that we in the beauty industry like to call "Peel Season" draws near!!! But what is "Peel Season" exactly? To understand what peel season is, it is best to know first what Chemical peels are and what they do.


What is a Chemical Peel?


A chemical peel is a treatment in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin. This solution starts a process that assists in removing the outer layers of the skin. It does so by creating a controlled injury that initiates an injury response, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.


What does a Chemical Peel Do?


The primary goal for a chemical peel is to remove surface proteins (skin cells) and create a controlled injury that will boost fibroblast activity. This in turn produces collagen and elastin production. But there are many secondary benefits to chemical peels as well.


Increases Cellular Turnover - As we age, our ability to create new skin cells slows down. (Insert cry emoji!!) What do I mean by that? When we are first born, our cellular turnover rate is every 3-5 days. Meaning, every 3-5 days we create brand new skin cells and shed the "old" ones on the surface. This is why a baby's skin is absolutely PERFECT! They create a brand new skin every 3-5 days!!!


As if baby's weren't already perfect enough!! Seriously though, aren't they absolutely perfect?


As we age our cellular turnover decreases. While we are in our teens, it takes about 10-21 days to complete a cellular turnover cycle. In our 30's it takes about 28-45 days, and by the time we reach 50, it takes our skin about 60-90 days!!!!

Chemical peels allow us to shed the outermost layer of skin, signaling our bodies to create new ones. Thus, increasing our cellular turnover rate and reducing the time it takes us to create new skin cells. Ta daaa!


Lighten Pigmentation - Chemical peels can help lighten pigmentation in a couple different ways. By helping to exfoliate currently pigmented cells, and by delivering brightening ingredients to the skin.


In addition to the above listed benefits, chemical peels also help to minimize pores, minimize wrinkles, reduce acne and prevent further acne breakouts, lessen acne scars, and even out skin tone and texture.


What does a Chemical Peel NOT Do?

Although a chemical peel does help with many skin conditions, there are a few things that they are not indicated for, including: Deep lines or wrinkles, significantly tightening loose or sagging skin, or removing of deep scars.


What different types of peels are there?

There are many types of chemical peels with varying strengths and ingredients that target various concerns that I can explain more in depth in a later post. Typically they are categorized by the depth in which they penetrate the skin, but today I will break them down into two different categories that I use in my practice. Gel and Ethanol based peels.


Gel Based - Little to no physical peeling. Can be used with other treatments.

Ethanol Based - Can expect mild to moderate peeling. Requires pre treatment and post care products and are typically stand alone services.


Who is a good candidate for a Chemical Peel?

Good candidates for chemical peels are those who have oily, acne prone skin, pigmented skin, those who are concerned about pigmentation, break outs, aging and fine lines, and are compliant to the pre and post care instructions given to them.


Who is a NOT good candidate for a Chemical Peel?

Those who are pregnant or nursing, have inflamed acne, using Accutane, have poor healing due to open lesions, radiation or diabetes, and using photosensitizing medications are not good candidates for chemical peels. Those using retinoids should discontinue use 1-2 weeks prior to treatment.

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How do I prepare for a Chemical Peel?

Pre-treating will give your skin the tools it needs to support healing, lessen the chances of adverse reactions, and will give you the most optimal outcome. There are pre treatment recommendations based by specific concerns, but they are not a one size fits all. It's always best to schedule a consultation to find what products will be best for your skin type. Once I have a better idea of what might work best for you, I will send you home with samples to try.


What is the healing process like? Is there any downtime?


Gel based peels have very little to no downtime. You can go back to your normal skin routine immediately after. Just make sure not to exfoliate 72 hours after your service.


For ethanol based peels, you will experience about a week of downtime.

Day 1-2 - Typically the first day or two you will not see much happening visibly.

Day 3 - Some dryness and flaking is to be expected.

Day 4-6 - May experience peeling.

Day 7 - Skin should be back to normal.


It is very important that while the skin is healing and going through the shedding process that excessive heat and excessive cold is avoided. This includes hot tubs, saunas, pools, extended periods of time in the heat or sun, hairdryers, etc. The skin will have undergone a controlled injury/burn and the body's response to injury causes heat and inflammation at the site of injury. Bringing more heat into the mix is a recipe for disaster! Do not pick or pull at shedding skin. Let it fall off on its own or use small scissors to cut away dry skin. Pulling at skin that is not ready to shed may cause damage and pigmentation.


Keep in mind that each individual will react differently to treatments and the time frame stated above are all estimates. Peeling will be dependent on many factors including moisture levels, skin type, skin condition, layers used, environment, and how far along your skin is in the cellular turnover cycle when the chemical peel solution was applied.


How often should I get a Chemical Peel?

How often you get a peel depends on age, and how aggressive the treatment was. Gel based peels can be done every 2-4 weeks. Ethanol based peels, on the other hand, can be done every 4 weeks if it was a light layer, meaning the maximum amount oflayers possible was not used. If it was a heavy layer, meaning the maximum amount of layers possible was used, it is suggested to wait 2-3 months before having another.


Now that you have a better understanding of what a chemical peel is, how it works, and what it does, what exactly is peel season?


What is Peel Season?!

Peel season is the time of year when the weather is cooler. Fall, Winter and early Spring are perfect for chemical peels because creating that controlled injury and activating the injury response may cause slight heat and inflammation to the skin. Adding additional heat, sun, and/or other irritants like chlorine can further cause irritation and possibly damage what we work so hard to preserve!!


Now you know a little bit more about chemical peels! If you feel you are a good candidate and would like to know how you can schedule one, click on the BOOK NOW button below and schedule a Consultation with an Express facial. I will go over your intake form, discuss your concerns, skin care goals, allergies, and any contraindications you may have, as well as take a closer look at your skin, and create a treatment plan just for you!!!



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