Posted on 4 January, 2020
Will a Chemical Peel make me look like Samantha from Sex & The City? This is a question I get asked all the time. In my opinion this treatment is the worst named treatment on the planet. ‘Chemical peel’ I mean, who the hell thought of that?
So, in short, ‘will a chemical peel make me look like Samantha from Sex and the City?’ The answer is no! I think there are several misconceptions around this treatment based on its terrible name. Many people associate this with a very harsh acid treatment and conjure up mental images of the science lab from school days. It actually could not be further from the truth. The ingredients contained in chemical peels are usually really naturally occurring ingredients.
I can tell you where the whole thing started to normalise it even further for you. So back in the day, if you remember the infamous beauty Cleopatra who was renowned for bathing in milk. The reason that she did that was because of the lactic acid that is present in milk. Lactic acid made her skin silky soft, and that is one of the first forms of chemical peeling that we are aware of. This very natural treatment is not at all new and has been carried out for centuries.
Chemical peels are not horrific (as they sound) at all. Most peel solutions available these days are blended treatments containing a number of different acids at low percentages. This blending of low intensity ingredients ensures fabulous results without the down time.
What is downtime?
Downtime is a term used to describe any unwanted effects following a treatment. These are typically effects that are perfectly normal just not desirable. In the case of chemical peels, effects include redness, discomfort, itching, noticeable peeling, flaking, tightness. The ‘downtime’ for peels will depend on the strength of the peel and to a degree, your ability to tolerate it. The deeper the peel, the more downtime you can expect but the less treatments required to achieve your end point. The milder the treatment, the less the downtime and you can anticipate a number of treatments to achieve your skin goals. This means you have options which are of enormous benefit. Visible peeling is not something that everyone feels able to cope with, so although you have the advantage of a single treatment procedure, I know that many of you do not feel able to opt for seven days of recovery. Milder treatments give you the option of having beautiful skin achieved in a gradual manner that no one else needs to know about.
How natural is natural?
To give you a sense of the types of ingredients found in these facial solutions, here are some of the most common, their benefits, and where they originate from:
Kojic acid. Kojic acid is helpful with pigmentation and it is derived from fungus.
Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is derived from the bark of a willow tree and is really good for acne.
Mandelic acid. Mandelic acid is derived from almonds and it is good for fine lines and wrinkles
Lactic acid. Lactic Acid is good for general brightening and hyperpigmentation. So these are lovely, natural, non scary ingredients.
Reasons to peel
Chemical peels will address a wide variety of issues assisted by your practitioner applying the perfect blend for your skin. They are suitable for men and women alike.
Peels are your thing if you have:
The science of the peel
The main benefit around peeling is to stimulate new skin cells to work up to the surface of the skin. As children, we have beautifully bouncy, radiant, glowy skin. At this time in life your skin cells are only taking around six weeks to emerge through the base layers to the skin surface. As we get into our twenties, it can take longer for skin cells to renew themselves. Acid based skin treatments work by exfoliating surface skin cells without having to apply any physical force (such as with grainy type exfoliants).
What is actually involved?
The process itself is super simple! It is literally a question of just painting a lotion on to the skin. Initially we carry out a thorough cleanse getting the skin scrupulously clean, followed by the peel application which may be done using a fan brush, a cotton tip or even the finger tips. The peel solutions will usually elicit a feeling of some description. You feel a tingle, an itch, a prickle or a sense of warmth. The sensation depends, on the depth of peel you have opted for. I always use a ‘discomfort’ score (0-10) to gauge my clients reaction. Milder peels usually induce a score of around 2, so you can see that we are in the very gentle spectrum.
Will I need to prepare for a peel?
Preparing your skin for a peel will undoubtedly maximise your results. Preparation involves the use of skin products aimed at stimulating and protecting your skin. By preparing your skin, your skin is in a ‘ready state’ to react well to treatment. Skin prep can usually be continued after treatment also, keeping the effects of the treatment working. There are some cases where using skin prep is not an option but a ‘necessary’. This can apply to certain peel treatments and to certain skin types, so do not always assume you can get your peel on the day of your consultation.
Plan, plan, plan
Everything depends on what you are after. So planning, discussing, getting information, getting your objectives across to your practitioner really helps you to work out what is actually going to be the best treatment for you, and is in fact central to any treatment.
When is the perfect time to peel?
Skin peels can be done throughout the year. They can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so this is something to be mindful of but does not mean you cannot do during the summer. Winter is the perfect peel season. At this time of year, many of us start to stay home more, we experience shorter, darker days and our skin looks at its dullest. So whether you are just wanting to look fresh for you seasonal social events, or your skin has been bugging you all year with a specific issue now is the time to get booked in.