A chemical skin peel: A brief explanation about everything you need to know.Jaco
How do chemical peels work?
Different chemical types have their own properties, but generally, chemical peel acids penetrate the skin and break the bonds between the layers of skin, so the top layers will start peeling off. The type of peel, its concentration and the exact chemical composition will determine how deep it penetrates (and thus how deep the peel is). Always, but always, have a peel done by your expertly trained and trusted skincare therapist. You’ll go for an assessment first, as a specific peel or combination of peels and concentrations might be best for your individual skin. Your therapist will know just what’s right for you.
What is the purpose of chemical peels?
• Erase imperfections
• Remove damaged skin
• Improve skin tone and texture
• Allow new skin to grow
What conditions are treated with chemical peels?
Chemical peels are used to treat:
But they’re also great for:
• Firming and tightening
• Resurfacing of skin
• Improving complexion
• Stimulating healthy new tissue growth
Types of peels
Glycolic acid peels are one of the mildest and most popular peel types, largely because glycolic acid is a natural substance found in sugar cane that is part of the fruit acid family – also called alpha-hydroxy acid, which is where the name “Alpha” comes from.
• Improved complexion
• Treating wrinkles
This fruit acid (alpha-hydroxy) family member is not exactly a peel per se: it’s actually a powerful chemical exfoliator. You should be quite familiar with this acid, as it is present in some forms in your own body: it’s what makes your muscles feel stiff after strenuous exercise. It’s mentioned here, because it can be used in conjunction with chemical peels (normally alpha peels) to facilitate shedding.
• Skin firming/tightening
Salicylic acid peels are a bit stronger and penetrate a little deeper for more dramatic results. Salicylic acid is from the beta-hydroxy acid family (where the name “Beta” comes from), related to phenolic acids. You might recognise salicylic acid as a key ingredient in some medical acne and skincare treatments and/or products.
• Treatment of acne
• Some hyperpigmentation
• Some ageing
Retinoic acid is very closely related chemically to Vitamin A and is widely used in medicine to regulate cell growth. It is a slightly deeper peel than Beta peels but has the added benefit of really boosting new tissue growth and is often used in conjunction with Beta Peels.
• Treatment of acne
• Stimulating growth
• Removing scars and wrinkles
• Some hyperpigmentation
Trichloroacetic acid peels are stronger and give much deeper penetration, with more noticeable results. This acid is commonly used in medicine to kill or destroy imperfections in the skin, especially warts. And since peels are essentially about removing layers of skin, it makes sense that a variation of the same chemical works well as a peel. Note: TCA is strong and penetrates deeply, and so your skin will need some recovery time.
• Deep-seated hyperpigmentation
• Treatment of advanced ageing signs
What does “%” mean when it comes to peels?
Peels and concentrations
You might have heard or seen certain percentages used in conjunction with peels: glycolic acid 20% or 30%, for example. These denote the concentration of the key ingredient (alpha-hydroxy in the case of this example) in the peel’s chemical make-up. We might assume that the concentration is an indication of a peel’s strength, but this is not entirely correct, according to Dr Bradley Wagemaker, Medical Director at biotechnology company Lamelle Research Laboratories.
“The actual chemicals used and the way the entire chemical cocktail is combined in the product plays a huge part in the strength and effectiveness of the peel,” he says. “So you’ll find that a 15% concentration in the same type of peel from two different sources might not be equally effective.”
Another important factor is the person performing the treatment: a skincare therapist or medical aesthetic doctor who is trained and well versed in the particular protocols of a product will help ensure maximum safety and efficacy for your skin during the treatment.
“Thus you’ll find that the brand of peel that is used (in terms of who manufactured it) and the person performing the treatment is key in ensuring you get the results you are looking for,” Dr Wagemaker concluded.
The Next Step
Now that we have wrapped our heads around what chemical peels are and what they are used for, it’s important to note that, if you want to give your skin a bit of a pick-me-up at this time of year, your first port of call should be your trusted skincare therapist. They will do an assessment first and recommend a peeling product (or combination of products) as well as a treatment schedule – and even a suitable home care regimen – that will be 100% catered to your skin and your needs.
Lamelle Research Laboratories take great pride in both their industry-renowned therapist training programmes and their top-shelf peel products.