A chemical peel, or chemical exfoliant or light peel, is basically an acid solution that is applied to the face to remove the dead outermost layer of skin cells, promote cell turnover and induce desquamation (shedding, peeling, or coming off in scales) of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis). Not all peels are created equal. At-home peels have the lowest percentage of acid and are so mild that you won’t see a tremendous difference in your skin. Spa peels are stronger and shouldn’t be done more than once or twice a month.
Superficial (light) chemical peels performed by estheticians use alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) glycolic acid or lactic acid or a beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) called salicylic acid.. Generally, 30% glycolic is used. The superficial peels only affect the epidermis.
Jessner’s Solution is a mixture of salicylic acid, resorcinol, lactic acid and ethanol, which is used both for superficial and medium-depth peels, depending upon the concentration of acid. AHA peels can provide smoother, brighter skin with no recovery time. These peels can, however, cause mild stinging, erythema (redness) or irritation. This will subside as the skin adjusts to the treatment regimen. Following a peel, there may also be flaking, scaling and dryness of the skin, which also disappears.
Chemical peels can improve skin tone and texture, decrease fine lines and wrinkles, even pigmentation, remove age spots, improve the appearance of superficial scars and reduce pore size. These results are achievable because the peels actually dissolve the intercellular cement allowing the dead skin to be shed. Chemical peels penetrate deeply enough to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which produce firmer, more taut skin. Direct sun exposure should be avoided for at least one month.
Prescription medication will show results faster if it is combined with a chemical peel. Prescription retinoids or vitamin A derivatives, enhance the penetration of the peel and will help the healing process afterward by speeding up cell division, renewal. The normal series for optimal skin results is five to eight.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR CHEMICAL PEELS
Sensitivity to the peeling agent, facial cancers, herpes, keloids, use of Accutane, pregnancy.
INDICATIONS FOR CHEMICAL PEELS
Fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation, decreases the effects of sun damage and acne.