Types of Chemical Peels – Which is Right for Me?

Applying a chemical to the skin to remove some of the outer layers might sound a little alarming, but in fact, it’s one of the oldest beauty tricks in the book. If it’s something you’re considering there are a few things to know before you book an appointment.

When Might a Chemical Peel be Helpful?

Some of the reasons for using chemical peels include:

  • The treatment of acne, and reduction of scarring from acne
  • Reducing abnormal pigmentation and treating sun damage
  • Improving the condition of the oily or dry skin
  • To bring a healthy glow to dull or lifeless skin

How Deep Do You Need to Go?

When asking yourself ‘which chemical peel is right for me’ one factor to consider is whether you’re looking to remove just the very top layers of skin or need to go deeper. This decision really relates to what you want to achieve, as different types of chemical peels are used to gain different benefits.

1. Superficial or Light Peels

These act on the epidermis only and bring an instant boost to your complexion. A superficial peel will make your skin look brighter, smoother and can be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines. You won’t get the maximum benefit from a single treatment, it’s usual to have a course of between six and ten sessions. Common superficial peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid formulations. You may also be offered peels made from fruit or other natural enzymes derived from anything from pumpkins to pineapples.

One of the benefits of a superficial peel is that there’s almost no recovery time, your skin may look a little pink afterwards but this can easily be disguised with makeup. This is a ‘lunch-time’ beauty treatment, as you could go on to work straight after an appointment and no-one will notice anything unusual.

2. Medium Depth Peels

The most common types of medium depth peels are made from TCA (trichloroacetic acid). They’re used to treat sun damage, unwanted pigmentation and wrinkles. Because the chemicals used penetrate more deeply into the skin, medium peels have much more dramatic effects than light ones.

This deeper penetration also means that there’s more likelihood of side effects, you may feel some burning or be stinging which could last for up to an hours after treatment. Some swelling, pinkness and flaking of the skin for anything up to a week after the treatment is possible.

3. Deep Peels

These are generally administered using high strength TCA or carbolic acid which is strong enough to penetrate the dermal layers of the skin. Deep peels can have amazing effects on sun damage, scarring and deep lines and wrinkles but they are uncomfortable and have a much longer recovery time than either of the other two options.

Skin treated using a deep peel will flake and may also scab and it could be anything up to a couple of weeks before you feel ready to go out in public.

Using Chemical Peels Safely

All types of chemical peels carry some risks, though in the case of superficial peels these are minimal. The person administering your treatment should ask you some general health questions and some detailed questions about your skin before starting any procedure. They’ll also advise you about things you should do after your treatment to ensure you get the maximum benefits. Deep carbolic acid peels should only be administered by an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

If you’re considering a chemical peel the best thing to do is consult a professional who’ll evaluate your skin and requirements and help you decide what type of treatment will suit you best.

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