The Perfect Peel Guide

By: Tammy Gilbert, ME CDT
Celebrating 20 years as a Master Aesthetician

I know, I know, the minute I mention the words chemical peel, you immediately think of Samantha from Sex & The City when she looked like a peely lobster face. But, I promise, not all hope is lost when it comes to peels. Hopefully this will be your guide to a PERFECT PEEL. And, once you’ve finished reading this, you’ll have all of your questions answered and you’ll be armed with knowledge!

Here are a few of my most frequently asked questions:

Why are chemical peels important?
As we age, our skin exfoliates much more slowly, meaning most of us will experience a duller, grey-toned, lifeless look to our skin. Peels keep skin looking healthy with a youthful glow as well as correct many skin issues.

What type of chemical peel is best for my skin?
Whether your issue is hyperpigmentation (brown spots), active acne (including mask-ne), fine lines or uneven skin texture, chemical peels are a restorative cosmetic procedure that can help reduce those issues. Chemical peels are a great way to help your skin EXFOLIATE & GLOW. And, there are so many different chemical peels on the market today. My favorite types to work with that give excellent results are: Lactic, Glycolic, TCA, Salicylic and Retinol (my absolute fav).

What is the best time of year to have a peel done?
November-February: Many skin treatments, especially those involving lasers and chemicals, require that you avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight before and after your procedure since it will be “sun sensitive”. That’s because tanning before these types of treatments can interfere with their effectiveness and may cause complications (Mayo Clinic). Similarly, the skin will be much more sensitive to sunlight for several weeks after the chemical peel.

What is my downtime and should I do a series?
Depending on which type of chemical used, typically 3-14 days of downtime. Most skin resurfacing treatments work best when used in multiple sessions, so you’ll need to schedule these procedures at least 4 weeks apart in order to optimize your results (American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons).

What is the goal of a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is designed to “peel away” damaged skin cells, allowing healthy skin to grow in their place. Typically, best results are achieved with a series of peels (three or six). However, the exact results will depend on many factors, including the severity of your skin issues and the type of peel you receive.

Let’s break down the chemical peel steps and process, shall we?

#1 CONSULTATION– Schedule a consultation with a master aesthetician, nurse or dermatologist that has been properly trained.
During this time, they will analyze your skin and decide which is the best skin-correcting peel for you. You should leave with a better understanding of:
What type of peel will work best for your skin
What is your expected downtime. When can you apply makeup, etc.
Written aftercare instructions as well as home care products.
Follow up appointments for your 2nd and 3rd chemical peels.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll want to know their credentials and protocols. If they don’t have any…then run! They are not what you or your skin needs. Remember this is your face we’re talking about and you must have complete trust in who you choose to help you on your skincare journey.

#2 SKIN PREP- (This is my treatment room protocol for chemical peels, others may not do the same).
Some chemical peels and/or patients require pre-care in which you’ll “prep” your skin before the peel is applied. I often advise this depending on how deep the damage is within the dermis. This “prep” step acts as an accelerator for the peel and gives the skin better results. Make sure you are 2 weeks post from self tanners, hair removal (depilatories) ie. laser hair removal, waxing of the face etc.

#3 PEEL TIME- I will:
* Re-consult with you. I want to make sure we both have realistic expectations and I’ve answered all questions.
* “Before” pictures will be taken and your consent form will be signed before we begin applying the peel.
* Prep the skin by cleansing and dermaplaning it. I love this step because it allows the chemical to be absorbed
easily since it will remove the surface cells and hairs.
* Apply the peel prep solution. This will dehydrate the skin to accept the chemical quickly.
* Apply the chemical peel solution. You will experience a “stingly” sensation that is doing all good things to your
skin! I promise!
* Remove the chemical solution (depending on which peel we use, some will self-neutralize).
* Apply after care products and SPF.
* Give you after care instructions and products to aid your skin in healing.

Different types of chemical peels and skin conditions they help with-

Light chemical peel treats

  • fine wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone
  • acne
  • dry skin

After a light chemical peel, you may experience mild irritation and dryness. You can typically wear makeup the following day and resume your normal skin care activities, like cleansing and moisturizing .
It will most likely take between 1 to 7 days for your skin to fully heal.

Medium chemical peel treats

  • wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone
  • acne scars

The most common side effects of a medium chemical peel include: Mild Swelling, Redness and Stinging.
In most cases, you can safely wear makeup within 5 to 7 days.
The recovery process typically lasts 7 to 14 days.

Deep chemical peel or Laser Peel treats

  • deeper wrinkles
  • deeper scars
  • precancerous skin patches

The most common side effects of a deep chemical peel include: Crusting, Swelling and Severe redness.
The swelling can last for 7-14 days, while the redness may last for 3 months.
It may take up to 14 days for your skin to heal. During this time, you’ll need to follow a strict aftercare plan which includes applying an antibiotic cream to your skin. You can typically start wearing makeup after 14 days.

I absolutely love chemical peels for my skin and I love what it does for my client’s skin. As long as you have realistic expectations and will adhere to the treatment protocols, you will have the PERFECT PEEL and your skin will have a healthier GLOW!
xo, Tammy

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