Administered by skincare professionals, chemical peels work by exfoliating the skin’s surface to reduce the appearance of blemishes, smooth skin texture, improve radiance, and restore skin health. They are most effective at enhancing cell turnover and improving the appearance on the surface of the skin.
Chemical peels come in many different strengths and acidic formulations ranging from superficial to higher penetrating peels. Some common acids in chemical peels are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). AHAs are often used to treat signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven texture. BHAs are often used to treat problematic skin concerns such as blemishes, large pores and uneven texture. TCA is often used to treat more advanced visible signs of aging and discoloration caused by sun damage, acne, or hormones.
HOW DO CHEMICAL PEELS WORK?
Chemical peels improve the texture and appearance of the skin by sloughing off the outer layers of the skin. They are effective facial treatments for improving blemishes, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin tone. During the treatment, a pre-determined quantity of the peel solution is applied to the skin for a specified amount of time. This is dependent on the type of chemical peel used, the concentration of the solution, skin type, and skin’s reactivity to the treatment. This solution works by reacting with the upper layer of the skin to efficiently dissolve the bonds that bind surface cells to the skin, ultimately revealing smoother, healthier skin underneath. While some peels are self-neutralizing, most formulas need to be neutralized with a buffering solution or water upon completion of the treatment. The goal is to create a controlled, safe injury to the skin, thereby prompting skin to naturally repair itself and reveal newer, brighter skin.
The action of a professional chemical peel far outweighs the effect of an exfoliating scrub or brush. Best of all, chemical peels are appropriate for nearly everyone. It is a matter of knowing which chemical is best for your skin type and concerns.
Chemical acids are further broken down by the pH of the formulation (the lower the pH, the stronger the acidity) and the size of the molecule itself. For example, a 20% concentration of glycolic acid at a pH of 3 may be more efficacious than the same formulation of lactic acid because the glycolic molecule is smaller and better able to penetrate the skin.
WHAT TYPE OF CHEMICAL PEEL IS RIGHT FOR ME?
Chemical peels are categorized by how deeply they penetrate the skin: superficial, medium, or deep. The type and depth of chemical peel administered will depend on your skin type, concern, Fitzpatrick type, and skincare habits.
Superficial peels penetrate only the uppermost layer of the epidermis. They are often performed in a series to treat fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.
A medium-depth peel is more effective for patients with moderate skin damage, including age spots, freckles, and actinic keratoses. It is often coupled with laser treatments to maximize effectiveness.