Your Guide to the Perfect Peel
Why Peels Are Important
So, why are peels so important you may ask?
Chemical peeling is the application of a chemical solution to the skin to remove its outer layers and it’s one of the oldest beauty secrets in the book. As we age our skin exfoliates much more slowly, meaning most of us will experience a duller, grey-toned, lifeless look to our skin. Peels keep skin looking healthy with a youthful glow while diminishing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Peels can also help eliminate scarring, discoloration and acne. Most aesthetic clinics offer chemical peels, and although they are most commonly used on the face, chemical peels can also rejuvenate the skin on the back of the hands and the décolleté, which can give away your age as much as your face. Peels can also be used on the body to treat back acne, and to slough off dead skin and lift hyperpigmentation from your legs and arms. The amount of skin removed is dependent on the type of peeling agent used, its strength, and how long it is left on.
I always tell my clients, peels are the best ways to exfoliate and rejuvenate your skin. While they seem scary, they are really great for your skin, especially those with sensitive skin as peels are not abrasive. Medium depth multi acid peels are my favorite. You don't have to peel to peel. The visible peeling is just a side effect, dead skin shedding. With regular peels, you will experience none of the downtime and all of the benefits. Monthly peels are the BEST at keeping your skin healthy, glowing and dewy. Read on to learn more!
Types of Peels
There are three types of peels: superficial, medium and deep. Each type serves a different purpose and possesses different strengths.
- Superficial peels or light peels are the gentlest type of peels available and one of the true ‘lunchtime’ aesthetic procedures. They only remove the top layer of dead skin, known as the epidermis, and can give your skin and instantly brighter look as well as a smoother, more even texture. They can be used to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, mild acne scarring, age spots and dry or flaking skin.
- Medium peels give more dramatic results than superficial peels. They penetrate deeper in to the skin and can be used to treat acne, pigmentation and wrinkles. These peels are also great at stimulating collagen production to firm and tighten skin.
- Deep peels are the strongest type of chemical peel available and can achieve powerful results for sun damage, scarring and deep lines and wrinkles. Each peel varies in its effects depending on the type of “peeling agent” used and the pH level.
Some of the main types of peels are:
TCA – This peel is perfect for a deep penetration into the skin. It is usually used for medium depth or deep peels when treating skin tightening, fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, large pores, and hyperpigmentation
Jessner: This peel is designed to remove superficial layers of skin, control oil production, kill acne causing bacteria, dislodge blackheads, reduce shallow wrinkling and scarring, help lighten hyper pigmentation and improve the overall appearance and health of sun-damaged, acne prone, aging skin
BHA: A beta hydroxy acid is an organic compound similar to that of an AHA, which contains a carboxylic acid functional group and hydroxy functional group separated by two carbon atoms. Beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is especially beneficial for treating acne because it is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. It also helps reduce skin thickening due to sun damage, and refines skin, which lets us then get a better delivery of other acids into the skin.
- Salicylic: Derived from willow tree bark, this is the most common BHA. We love this peel because it is unique in that it can penetrate deeper into oil glands, making it ideal for acne and oily skin
AHA: Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of natural acids found in foods. Here’s an example of some of them:
- Lactic: An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from milk. This peel is great to treat pigmentation, dry or dehydrated skin, sensitive skin, and even eczema and rosacea due to its natural moisturizing effect on this skin, and is less irritating than other AHA’s
- Glycolic: An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from fruit and sugar cane. This peel is great for treating fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, improvement of skin texture, and skin brightening
- Mandelic: Derived from almonds. This is a great first-time chemical peel because it less penetrating and irritating, but still very effective for treating damaged skin. Their antibacterial qualities also make them good for people with acne-prone skin
- Citric: Derived from corn or sugar beets. A recommended peel used to treat acne, photo damage, and superficial pigmentation
- Kojic: Derived from mushrooms and other fungi. This peel is beneficial to brighten skin by reducing hyperpigmentation and fine lines. It also increases collagen and elastin production.
- Malic: Derived from apples and pears. This peel is best for photo damage, acne, rosacea, superficial pigmentation, and eczema
- Azelaic: Derived from rye, wheat, and barley. This peel is effective in treating a number of skin conditions, such as acne, inflammation and hyperpigmentation
PHA – polyhydroxy acids: This peel is great for really sensitive skin and is great for exfoliation, skin smoothing, and anti-aging effects.
The Difference Between Multi Acid Peels vs. Single Acid Peels – Which one is better?
A single acid peel is one that uses only one type of acid, while a multi acid peel uses numerous different types of acids.
Alpha hydroxy acids – such as glycolic, malic, or beta hydroxy acid (also known as salicylic acid) are the main ingredients of most salon peels. All acids have what's known as a chemically exfoliating effect, encouraging dead cells to shed and fresh skin to come to the surface. However, many AHA peels also contain a dose of salicylic acid because it dissolves dead cells from the skin's surface, while the glycolic works deeper, making it's a multi-layered peel. Single acid peels are going to be significantly lighter and not as effective as multi acid peels. The reason being is that multi acid peels can achieve a combination of results and penetrate deeper for greater results.
Ultimately, your type of peel preference will depend on your skin type, as well as what results you are looking for. I always recommend doing a consultation with your skin therapist to understand the benefits and any potential side effects to determine the best peel for you.
Why does pH Matter?
What really matters when it comes to peels is their pH level. This indicates how deep the peel will penetrate into your skin. All peels have varying percentages of active ingredients and different pH levels.
The percentage simply indicates how much of the “peeling agent” or other active ingredients are contained in the product. The most important thing to know is; the lower the pH, the more acidic the peel, and thus, the deeper the peel will penetrate. Anything with a pH of less than 2.5 should be done by a doctor or nurse, however if it has a pH of 1, only a doctor or surgeon. Legally, skincare therapists cannot use anything lower than a 2.5; therefore peels with a pH of 3 are typically what aestheticians will use.
As always, consult your skincare professional or contact me for a session to discuss what is best for you!