We all know the old saying “Beauty is only skin deep”, and no matter your age, the use of chemical peels turns the saying into a reality; they can be extremely effective at rejuvenating tired and damaged skin.
Chemical peels successfully remove dead skin cells, correct discolouration, eliminate whiteheads and blackheads, clean out clogged pores, and promote skin regeneration. As with every type of treatment, especially on the face, find yourself a good dermatologist or plastic surgeon, let them evaluate your skin, determine whether a peel can be of benefit and which type of peel is right for you.
There are three different types of chemicals used for a peel:
- A chemical peel containing salicylic, glycolic, or other alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs); used for minor skin concerns.
- Trichloroacetic acid, a stronger substance used for medium peels.
- The strongest chemical peel is Phenol. It makes the most dramatic difference because it is so deep but the deeper the peel the longer the recovery period … and the greater the risk.
There are three different kinds of peels:
- A superficial peel penetrates and exfoliates only the surface layer of the skin. Recovery time can be up to a week. After care is low maintenance and consists of nothing more than daily moisturiser and sunscreen.
- A medium peel penetrates deeper into the middle skin layer and is better suited for you if you have age spots, wrinkles, freckles, discolouration, minor sun damage, or rough areas on your skin. Recovery time is approximately one to two weeks, during which time the treated skin will redden, swell, blister, scab, and eventually fall off. You need to soak your skin on a daily basis, apply an emollient moisturiser, take an antibiotic and avoid the sun until your skin is completely healed. You’ll be able to start wearing a bit of makeup after five days or so.
- A deep peel penetrates into the middle layer of your skin to remove lines, wrinkles, age spots, discolouration, sun damage, freckles, and shallow scars. It should have a smoothing, brightening, and tightening effect on the skin but it’s a one-off procedure and only on the face. It’s also a serious procedure and usually requires a general anaesthetic. Recovery time is approximately two to three weeks during which time you’ll be soaking your healing face four to six times each day and applying ointment after each soak for the first couple of weeks. After approximately two weeks you’ll start using an emollient moisturiser and antibiotics. You’ll also be able to start wearing make-up but you will have to stay out of the sun for three to six months. You will also have to wear sun cream with a high SPF from then on …
You can also perform chemical peels at home using lactic, salicylic or alpha-hydroxy solutions; these are weaker than any of the medical strength solutions but can still help with sun damage and minor acne. If you have a skin condition, such as acne or psoriasis or rosaceae, consult your dermatologist before using any sort of treatment.
Of course, unless you have been plagued by a skin condition and are simply looking for some brightening of the skin and a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles, prevention is always the best cure. Start now by using sun screen, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising and watching what you eat!