A Chemical Peel is a cosmetic treatment that involves careful exfoliation of the skin using an acid. The acid removes a uniform amount of damaged skin cells across the treatment area. When done appropriately, it allows the skin to heal, with minimal scarring or colour changes as a result of the Chemical Peel treatment.
Chemical Peels affect two layers of the skin: the Epidermis and the Dermis. The Epidermis is the visible outer layer, and the Dermis sits just beneath. This deeper layer contains nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles. A Chemical Peel removes a controlled amount of skin cells from the epidermis. A stronger peel may also remove a small part of the dermis.
What a Chemical Peel treats?
- Enlarged pores
Chemical Peels reduce skin damage, giving the skin a more youthful or unblemished appearance.
Depending on a person’s concerns and their type of skin, a dermatologist will recommend the most appropriate chemical Peel.
During a Chemical Peel, we apply the exfoliant acid first to the thicker areas of skin, such as the chin, nose, and cheeks, before applying it to the thinner areas around the eyes and mouth. After the Chemical Peel, our Lead Specialist may recommend use of cool saline compresses to remove any remaining exfoliant.
Note: Before a Chemical Peel, consultation with the Specialist is a must.
A Chemical Peel can involve different types of acid, including:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids: Among these are glycolic acid, lactic acid & citric acid.
- Beta-hydroxy acids: Salicylic acid is one example, and it is especially beneficial for acne-prone skin and enlarged pores.
- Trichloroacetic acid: We typically use this in medium or deep chemical peels.
- Phenol: This powerful chemical agent is useful in deep skin peels.
Chemical Peel Variations
We often recommend superficial peels if skin issues only affect the top layer of the skin. Because superficial peels do not penetrate the deeper layers, they involve a lower risk of side effects and a quicker recovery. Superficial peels take 1–7 days to heal. As superficial peels are much gentler on the skin than other peels, it may take 3–5 professional treatments for people to see the results they want. People can have superficial peels every 2–5 weeks. It is important to wear sunscreen after the treatment to protect the new skin as it heals.
These types of Chemical Peels are recommended for:
- Fine wrinkles
- Sun damaged skin
- Minor hyperpigmentation
- Minor acne scars
Medium-depth chemical peels reach an area called the papillary dermis. This is the upper second layer, closest to the surface of the skin.
These Chemical Peels take 7–14 days to heal. You can wear makeup after 5–7 days. It is important to wear sunscreen after the treatment to protect the new skin as it heals.
These Chemical Peels are recommended if a person has:
- Moderate to severe sun damage
- Moderate to severe wrinkles
- Moderate to severe hyperpigmentation
The Deep Chemical Peel takes 14–21 days to heal. It is recommended that one avoids sun exposure for 3–6 months.
For this type of Chemical Peel, it’s recommended that one washes the skin between four and six times a day with a special solution, then applying an ointment for 14 days. The person will then have to use thick moisturizer.
A person who has a deep chemical peel should not wear makeup for at least 14 days after the procedure.
Chemical Peel side effects
The side effects of a Chemical Peel are usually mild. However, some people may develop long-lasting effects, such as:
- Redness that lasts for months
- Temporary dark patches of skin
- Lightened patches of skin
- Scarring, which is very rare
But these chemical peel side-effects are avoidable if you follow our Lead Specialist’s aftercare instructions carefully.
Chemical Peel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
1. What is a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a skin treatment; which is used to improve and smooth out the surface of the skin. A chemical solution is used to remove top layers of skin, which allows the dead surface skin to peel off. The peeling process leads to new skin growth – usually smoother, healthier and less wrinkled compared to the old skin.
2. Which Chemical Peel is right for me?
This is determined upon consultation with our Lead Specialist. There are three different types of chemical peels: superficial, medium and deep peels. These are categorised by the strength of the acid solution used in the peel and how deeply they penetrate the skin. Deeper peels penetrate the skin further and require greater recovery time.
3. How do Chemical Peels work?
The chemical peel speeds up your natural skin’s healing process by stimulating the production of collagen and improving elastin fibres- these are what give skin its youthful form and shape. It also revitalizes sensitive skin and helps improve the appearance of irritated or inflamed skin.
4. How is the Chemical Peel procedure done?
During the chemical peel, your skin will be cleansed and toned and the chemical peel will be applied to your skin using a gentle brush, the peel will be left on the skin for between three and five minutes, during which time some patients may experience a mild tingling or a mild burning sensation. The procedure is not painful. After the chemical peel, a cool compresses may be applied to the skin. Your skin will be moisturised and an antioxidant and a sun screen will be applied to the skin.
5. What skin conditions do Chemical Peels treat?
- Acne – Superficial chemical peels exfoliate the skin, allowing dead skin cells to be removed more effectively, excess oils on the skin are also removed. This action unblocks hair follicles and pores and reducing the appearance of pimples and improving skin texture that is damaged by acne.
- Fine lines & wrinkles – Chemical peels reduce fine lines and wrinkles especially under the eyes and around the mouth in sun damaged or ageing skin.
- Rough skin Texture – Chemical peels can improve rough skin texture by increasing the amount of collagen in the upper layer of the skin.
- Lentigines (large freckles) – These appear as dark spots on the skin, they are also called liver spots, or age spots. Large freckles can develop as a result of sun exposure and are present on sites which are exposed to excess sun such as face and arms and neck. A course of chemical peels can lighten large freckles and improve the appearance of sun damaged skin.
- Melasma – This is a dark skin discoloration which appears as patches commonly found on the cheeks, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. It is common in women who are taking hormonal treatment in the form of contraceptives or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and pregnant women. A course of chemical peels can lighten the appearance of dark discoloured skin caused by melasma.
- Hyperpigmentation – This is caused by excess skin pigment in the skin which can result in uneven skin tone. Chemical peels can lighten and even out the tone and appearance of the skin. The skinceuticals pigment balancing masque and peel maybe more effective for hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
6. How many Chemical Peels do I need?
Whilst you may see some very minor benefits after a single chemical peel, we recommend a course of six peels, one or two weeks apart. This will give the best results, as the full benefits of the chemical peels build up over a course of six treatments. After a course of six chemical peels, you can have a once monthly maintenance peel or wait for three months before embarking on another course of chemical peels.
7. How do I prepare my skin for a Chemical Peel?
Six weeks Prior to Chemical Peel: Stop any products containing retinol eg. Retin-A, Renova, Differin (Adapalene 0.1%) Tazorac.
One week before chemical peel: Avoid electrolysis, waxing, hair removal creams and laser hair removal for an entire week prior to your chemical peel.
24 hours before chemical peel: Stop using any exfoliating products or products that may be drying or irritating including products containing alpha or beta hydroxyl acids or benzoyl peroxide (a treatment for acne). On the day of your chemical peel, cleanse your skin in the morning and not to apply makeup on the face other than eyes or lips.
8. What do I care for my skin after the Chemical Peel?
After your peel you may notice that the skin is more red than usual for two hours afterwards, you may also notice that the skin feels tight or dry and or you may experience some very mild flaky skin for a few days. Rarely, you may experience crusting of the skin, swelling or a reactivation of cold sores. It is very important to use a sunscreen during the course of your treatment and for four weeks after to prevent uneven skin tone and excess pigmentation. Do not use any other skin products except those advised by the therapist.
- Do not pick any spots or peel off any flaky skin
- Do not use Alpha Hydroxy Acids or BetaHydroxy Acids on your skin for 24 hours
- It is imperative that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 45 and avoid direct sunlight for at least one month.
- Patients with hypersensitivity to the sun should take extra precautions to guard against exposure immediately following the procedure, as they may be more sensitive following the peel.
- Please avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours.
- When washing your face do not scrub, use a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin.
- Apply a light moisturiser such as hydrating B5 as often as needed to relieve dryness and tightness
- Do not have any other facial treatment for at least one week after the peel