At first glance, chemical peels can seem frightening, but that’s mostly due to their associated stigma. Let’s unpack these common fears and bring some clarity to oh-so “infamous” chemical peel.
How They Work
A chemical peel is a treatment where the client’s face is painted with a solution made largely of fruit acids. The solution exfoliates the top layers of the skin and stimulates the production of new, fresh, youthful skin cells. It removes or softens age spots, wrinkles, lines, irregular pigmentation and acne scars. Chemical peels also tell the body to lay down a layer of springy collagen beneath the skin.
Does a Chemical Peel Hurt? It Depends
Chemical peels can be light, moderate or deep. Their strength depends on the chemicals used, their concentration and how long they stay on the skin. A client is not restricted to one type of peel at a time. For example, they can have a deep peel on deep wrinkles around their mouth while having a light peel on their forehead.
The light peel…
is used for mild sun damage and for skin that has a poor texture. If it is made of mostly glycolic acid, the patient can put on make-up and return to their daily tasks right away. If it’s combined with trichloracetic acid, or TCA they’re going to have to take it easy for a day or two because there will be some stinging, and the skin will be swollen and look sunburned. It will also peel, but the result is a brightening of the complexion and a softening of fine lines.
A medium peel…
is often made of trichloracetic acid or glycolic acid and a combination of chemicals called Jessner’s solution. This peel is great for people who have waxy, thick areas of skin, sun damage, wrinkles and shallow acne scars. After this treatment, the skin should be healed enough for the person to put on make-up after about five days, but complete healing may not happen for about two weeks.
A aesthetician might recommend a deep peel…
if the patient has really extensive sun damage to their skin. When people are put off by the idea of a chemical peel, it's probably the deep peel they’re worried about. Yes, the deep peel hurts, and the patient needs a six-week pre-treatment period and sometimes general anesthesia during the procedure. The recovery is long and can be difficult, but in the end a deep peel removes signs of wrinkles, scars and sun damage and leaves the skin smooth as silk.
Most Don’t Need a Deep Peel
The good news is that the majority of people don't need a deep chemical peel but can obtain beautiful results with a medium or even light peel. This is especially true since chemical peels can be combined with laser resurfacing.