The goal of a chemical peel is to make your skin look smoother, with fewer blemishes and signs of aging. During a peel, a solution is applied to the skin that causes the top layer to blister and peel away. Typically, a chemical peel is a less invasive option than injections, laser skin resurfacing or other anti-aging treatments.
The right peel for you depends on a few things: the type of skin you have, what you are expecting to get from the peel and the amount of time you have for the treatment, recovery and follow-up.
The right chemical peel for your Skin Type
Your skin type determines in part the type of peel that’s most appropriate for you. One way to figure out your skin type is to use the Fitzpatrick scale.
The scale was created in 1975 by Harvard dermatologist Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick. It looks at a person’s complexion and how that person’s skin reacts to sunlight. The Fitzpatrick scale ranges from I to VI.
People with Type I skin have very light skin that burns quickly when exposed to the sun. People who are Type VI on the Fitzpatrick scale have very dark skin that doesn’t sunburn as easily. Since some chemical peels lighten the skin, they aren’t appropriate for people who have very dark skin, as they can cause uneven pigmentation.
Skin can also be classified by oiliness or dryness. Oily skin typically has larger pores and more blemishes. If your skin is dry, your pores tend to look smaller, you might have some redness, and there might be more fine lines and wrinkles. You can also have combination skin, which is oily in some places and dry in others.
Depending on how your skin reacts to pressure and products put on it, it might be sensitive. Sensitive skin typically turns red if you push on it or becomes irritated if you use certain ingredients on it. For example, if your skin feels itchy or tingles when you wash your face with a standard cleanser, it’s probably sensitive.
check the label: ingredients matter in facial peels
The ingredients found in chemical peels not only differ in type but also in concentration. Usually, a lower concentration of a strong ingredient, such as trichloroacetic acid, is better suited for darker skin types or people with sensitive skin. Trichloroacetic acid is often found in chemical peels in a variety of concentrations. It’s typically more potent than glycolic acid and is used to reduce the look of lines and wrinkles on the skin.
Sensi Peel, which is designed for people with dark complexions or sensitive skin, contains a 6 percent concentration of trichloroacetic acid. The peel also contains ingredients that even out skin tone, such a Kojic acid and azelaic acid.
The Esthetique peel is another option for people with very sensitive skin. It contains an alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, as well as retinoids. The retinoids improve the complexion and balance skin tone while the lactic acid helps moisturize skin. The peel also contains antioxidants and polyphenols to improve tone and texture.
Some peels contain a combination of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids. The Vitalize Peel contains salicylic acid, a type of beta hydroxy acid, which helps remove blemishes and wrinkles. It also contains retinoic acid, which allows it to better exfoliate the skin without peeling too deeply. The Rejuvenize peel is similar, but doesn’t feature the retinoic acid.
If you are looking for a more mild peel, the Illuminize peel is the most superficial of the three. It contains AHA and BHA, but is designed to be very gentle. It causes the least amount of peeling.
After the chemical Peel
What happens after your peel depends on the depth of the peel and the ingredients in it. Many people have redness and scaling, no matter how deep or superficial the peel is. Medium-depth or deep peels also typically result in blistering or swelling. If you have a deep peel, you might have bandages on some areas of the face.
You’ll typically need to pamper your skin after a chemical peel with moisturizers, balms or ointments. Your doctor will recommend the right skin-care product to use post-peel based on the depth of the treatment and your skin type.
Your doctor may ask that you come in for a follow-up visit a few days after the peel, to make sure your skin is healing properly. If you had a superficial peel, you may need several treatments before you get the results you’re after.
Dr. Andrew Campbell and the staff at Quintessa Aesthetic Center are happy to discuss the different chemical peel treatments on offer at the spa and to help you decide which peel is the best for your skin. The spa has two locations in Wisconsin: one in Mequon and the other in Sheboygan.