Skin peels, or chemical peels are more popular than ever. But exactly how do skin peels work? What are their side effects?
What is a chemical peel or skin peel?
Both chemical peels or skin peels are the same thing. They are an umbrella term for facial treatments which involve the layering of gentle gels and creams onto the skin of the face to treat the top layers of the skin. Depending on the type of peel used, this can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, redness and spots, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
How do they work?
Most skin peels are a type of mild and gentle acid. There are many to choose from. They work by gently exfoliating off the top layers of dead skin cells where the problems lie. Different types of chemicals will target different problems but they all generally promote regeneration of newer skin cells, giving your skin a fresh glow.
What types of chemical peels are there?
There are many types of skin peels or chemical peels including lactic acid, glycolic acid, pyruvic acid, citric acid and salicyclic acid (these are known as AHAs and BHAs). There is also a deeper form of these acids by the name of trichloroacetic acid or TCA.
How long does it take?
A chemical peel can usually be done within an hour. The milder peels are often known as 'lunch break' chemical peels because of how quick they are and how little downtime there is afterwards?
Do skin peels hurt?
Milder chemical peels (superficial peels) should not cause pain and all clients feel is a mild tingling that is not anything more than 'uncomfortable'. Some clients even describe it as refreshing!
Medium depth skin peels, such as TCA peels may cause a stronger tingling sensation that is often uncomfortable however most clients do not describe it as painful. You may need some paracetamol or ibuprofen afterwards to settle any mild soreness.
Can I wear make up after my peel?
After a superficial peel (such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or lactic acid), we recommend that you try to avoid make up for around 24h after the peel as this allows the dead skin cells to shed off and your skin to renew better.
After a medium depth peel (TCA), you should try to avoid make up for around a week afterwards, to allow the skin to heal.
What are the side effects of a skin peel?
You should expect some redness and soreness immediately after the peel, particularly if it is a medium depth peel. In the coming days you should expect some skin peeling and as the old skin cells are shed and brand new skin cells take their place.
Very rarely, some people may experience an allergic reaction to the skin peel, These are usually very mild and only require an antihistamine. This is exceptionally rare and your aesthetician will be a doctor who knows how to manage this.
Can I use skin peels on other parts of my body?
Yes! Skin peels can be effective in many parts of the body including the chest, back and upper arms. These are all areas commonly affected by acne scarring and sun damage and chemical peels are excellent for treating these areas too!
How many skin peels do I need?
We recommend a course of 3-8 superficial peels depending on the severity of your problem. The aesthetic doctor will be able to advise you on how many you may need depending on what you want to achieve.
The number of peels needed will also depend on the depth of the peel. Medium depth peels will require less peels, much further spaced apart compared to superficial peels.
That said, if you only want one superficial peel to give you an extra glow before a big event, they are fantastic to give your skin a youthful lift!