Dos and Don’ts of Chemical Peels, according to Doctors
It’s all too common nowadays to casually suggest a chemical peel as a one stop shop to solve all of one’s skin woes, from pigmentation to scars and wrinkles. Although it seems like a convenient all-purpose fix, chemical peels vary in intensity and depending on the severity of your skin’s concerns, work on different layers of your skin.
So how a-peeling are they really?
In its most basic terms, a chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance on the face, neck and even hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and peel off. The new regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. However, the new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun, and it is important to ensure you stay out of the sun as much as possible, a generous slathering of sunscreen is applied and a wide-brimmed hat for good measure.
There are 3 basic types of chemical peels.
Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment works well to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin, as well as to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.
“Such peels are great as they work well for most skin types and are least likely to cause any negative or side effects as they are quite low in intensity, but a few sessions may be required to achieve the end-result you’re looking for”, advised Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1.
We love: Milk Peel, a skin-loving treatment designed to revive inherent snow-white skin that is lust-worthy.
Pros: Visible skin improvement. Short treatment time.
Cons: May cause sun sensitivity.
Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid when used as a chemical peel, penetrates the outer and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment is used to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration, and can also be used to smoothen rough skin.
“Another reason why chemical peels are so popular nowadays, especially for the time-starved individuals, is that it can address several skin conditions in one go”, adds Dr Low.
We love: Glamour Peel, a multifaceted facial which uses a combination of professional peels customised to address as many as six key skin concerns: skin brightening, spot fading, line smoothening, pore reduction, sebum balance and hydration boost.
Pros: Speedy recovery time. Visible skin improvement.
Cons: Sun avoidance is required for the entire recovery period. May require multiple treatments to achieve best results.
Trichloroacetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. This treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars.
Pros: Most visible dramatic improvement in skin condition.
Cons: The procedure is used on the face and can only be performed once. Also, you are required to avoid the sun during the entire recovery period. This treatment has the longest recovery period. Phenol chemical peels will cause patients’ new skin to lose the ability to tan.
Chemical peels in all their layered glory do present some undesirable side effects, and it’s imperative that you understand what they are before you decide on getting one yourself.
- Permanent Scarring:If an incorrect formula is used for the peel, scarring can result from serious burns. In a medical setting, there are very few cases recorded of this side effect.
- Irritation:Your skin might become very sensitive and you may have a burning sensation during the recovery period. If the irritation is severe, do seek medical attention.
- Flaking and Peeling:It is normal for your skin to gradually flake off and peek after a chemical peel. But as tempting as it may be, do not pick at your face as this can cause damage to the skin.
- Pigmentation Changes:This is extremely rare but there have been some patients who noticed a drastic change in the colour of their skin after a peel, with some developing a darker skin tone following a peel. In most cases, this side effect is temporary.
- Redness:The appearance of your face after a medium or deep peel may be awkward for you to be seen in public during the recovery period, as the peeled area generally appears red or flushed.
Note: Even though chemical peels are considered non-invasive treatments, it’s still important you seek the advice of a certified dermatologist prior.
Read more: How To Lose Weight… From Your Cheeks
Now, before you jump onto the chemical-peel wagon, let’s break it down for you once again on the must-dos and definitely not-to-dos. We can never reiterate this information too much, especially when it comes to putting your best face forward.
- Follow the advice of your dermatologist to find a gentle and effective chemical peel that is right for your skin.
- Inform your dermatologist of all medications you currently are taking or have taken within the last 6 months.
- Inform your dermatologist of any allergies you may have.
- Depending on the level of peel, prepare your skin with advised skincare for 2-4 weeks.
- Always use proper daily protection on your skin.
- Follow a specific day and night regimen as recommended by your dermatologist.
- For best results, book a series of treatments with your dermatologist.
- Tell your dermatologist if you have a history of skin care conditions, such as cold sores.
- Discontinue the use of any products containing retinol or glycolic acid.
- Don’t try to do a chemical peel treatment yourself – seek a qualified
- Don’t overexpose yourself to the sun, harsh environments, or pollutants.
- Don’t wax or use any form of hair removal 1 week before and up to 1 week after treatments.
- Don’t pick at any of your skin that may be peeling.
- Don’t use a chemical peel if your skin has been sunburned or you have any open liaisons.
- Don’t over-do it – think of your skin as an apple. An apple with skin looks plump and hydrated. When you peel an apple, it naturally becomes brown and shrivelled. Your skin is a protective barrier and over-exfoliating causes more harm than good.