Chemical peels are one of the most popular ways to reverse the signs of aging. Effective in treating acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, they promote healing and rejuvenation.
With all the different types and levels of chemical peels, it can be intimidating if you don’t know the lingo.
Today, we’re going behind the curtain and exploring the world of chemical peels.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a technique estheticians and dermatologists use to refresh the skin. When they apply a solution, the top layers of dead skin cells flake off, revealing what’s beneath. For over 100 years, they’ve been used to treat many common skin concerns.
What are the benefits of chemical peels?
After a chemical peel, the skin that grows back has a smoother texture and even tone. As a skin resurfacing tool, they’re excellent at treating larger areas.
Different formulas may infuse the cells with hydrating serums and vitamin solutions. Additionally, peels stimulate collagen and elastin production, which results in glowing, dewy skin. They’re best at treating fine lines and scarring, removing signs of sun damage, and addressing uneven skin tone.
Peels may be applied in various locations around the body. The face, hands, decolletage, arms, and back are typical. Less common applications include intimate areas post-waxing to enhance smoothness.
The 3 strengths of chemical peels
There are three different strengths when referring to chemical peels. Frequently, the depth of the peel is directly related to how many layers of a serum and how long it’s left on the skin.
Mild or superficial peel
Mild peels are the most common due to their relatively short recovery period. These only remove the topmost layer of dead skin cells. Superficial peels treat fine lines, wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone, and dryness.
After this therapy, you’ll experience some tightness and tingling but no discomfort. Peeling is usually finished between one to seven days, depending on the formula.
These may be repeated every three to six weeks for continued effect.
Medium chemical peel
Medium peels target the epidermis and some of the upper dermis (middle layer of skin). By applying more coats of the formula, deeper penetration is possible. Estheticians may still work with medium peels, but more complications are possible. This treatment addresses wrinkles, acne scars, age spots, and uneven skin tone.
Following a medium peel, you’ll experience tightness and burning. Your skin will peel over seven to fourteen days and could appear red for months.
That said, it doesn’t need to be repeated nearly as often. Severe skin conditions may require a deeper peel to see results, so many times, it’s worth it.
Deep peels should only be performed by a medical professional because they penetrate so far down. In most cases, your doctor will put you on IV fluids and painkillers to minimize discomfort. Your skin will require at least three weeks of recovery after this procedure.
Following this procedure, new skin grows back after about two weeks. It may appear lighter or darker than before and lose its tanning ability. While in recovery, you’ll have to soak the new skin and apply ointment several times daily.
Because of the intensity, it’s only indicated for deep wrinkles and scars or precancerous growths.
6 types of chemical peels and their targeted skin concerns
Practitioners offer six primary types of peels relying on different types of acids. For the most part, the targeted skin concerns overlap, but some have specific applications and skin types.
AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acid) based peels
Peels using alpha-hydroxy acids use compounds found in nature. Glycolic, malic, tartaric, mandelic, and citric acid are common. They’re typically paired with a very low percentage of BHAs and are mild resurfacing agents.
AHA peels provide enhanced exfoliation, which allows dead skin cells to loosen. Once removed, the skin looks brighter with more even pigmentation. They also open up pores and enhance collagen production.
Especially good for light peels, they enhance collagen production and result in a youthful complexion.
BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acid) based peels
Beta-hydroxy acids are known as oil-loving compounds. They penetrate deeply and dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells and oils. Perfect for treating acne-prone or oily skin, the most common ingredient is salicylic acid.
At higher concentrations, this is one compound used for deep peels. Combined with other chemicals, it’s safe for use in light or medium applications.
BHA peels are typically used for skin concerns like rosacea, resolving sun damage, and restoring an even skin tone. When healed, they reveal younger-looking skin.
Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) chemical peels
TCA-based peels are known for penetrating deeper into the skin than some others. In higher concentrations and more coats, they’re used for medium peels. Estheticians can control how deeply the peel goes by modifying how much they apply.
Typically, TCA peels address uneven skin tone, acne scarring, age spots, and sun damage. As the skin heals, collagen production increases, resulting in a younger, more resilient texture.
Many practitioners encourage clients to try milder peels before moving to TCA-based products.
Mandelic acid based peels
As single-ingredient peels, mandelic acid applications increase skin’s elasticity and firmness. Generally a gentler formula, they’re suitable for light or superficial peels more regularly. The compound is also commonly used in other cosmetics to help clear up oily skin.
Due to a short recovery period, mandelic acid peels are popular for maintenance in between others.
One of the first chemical peels commercially sold, Jessner’s peel contains several acidic compounds. It originally included salicylic and lactic acids with resorcinol in an ethanol base. Resorcinol caused hyperpigmentation in darker-complected individuals, so doctors replaced it with citric acid.
During treatment, you’ll feel some burning or stinging as the solution penetrates the skin. The skin darkens and peels over a few days to a week, revealing new skin beneath.
Jessner’s peels are ideal for improving skin’s texture, unclogging pores, and reducing hyperpigmentation.
Phenol chemical peels
Phenol peels are the most potent peel in use, and you’ll only see them in medical offices. As a deep and aggressive peel, phenol should be a last resort instead of your first stop. Typical recovery from one of these could last several weeks to months and require taking time off from regular activities.
Be that as it may, there are still times when a phenol peel is appropriate. Deep wrinkles, moderate to severe acne scars, and significant sun damage benefit from this approach. After treatment, you start with a clean slate.
In some med spas, this treatment has been replaced by laser ablation. It gives similar results without the risks and recovery period.
The Wellness Club uses medical-grade chemical peels to achieve your skincare goals!
At The Wellness Club med spa, we offer seven different chemical peel treatments to meet your needs. We’ll assess your skin and recommend the one that best suits your aesthetic goals. From a monthly treatment to moderate skin resurfacing, our team will give you the best care.
Check out our website for information on our offerings, and book a consultation today!