What Is A Chemical Peel?

what is a chemical peelChemical peels sound scary. With the growing trend towards natural products, people hear the word “chemical” and feel like they’ll be using a bunch of unhealthy, unnatural ingredients on their skin that will cause their skin to be red, irritated, and flaky. But chemical peels are a great skin treatment to revitalize a dull complexion, control acne, and jump start an anti-aging program.

First, let’s talk about exactly what a chemical peel is. A chemical peel is essentially a way to exfoliate or remove dead skin. There are two kinds of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Mechanical exfoliation is using a texture to remove dead skin cells. Think: scrubs, Buf-Puf sponges, and microdermabrasion. Chemical exfoliation is using an ingredient to cause a reaction on the skin and release dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation includes enzyme, which works only on dead skin cells, and acid, which releases both dead skin cells and those near death. Acid exfoliation takes living skin cells to stimulate the skin’s natural healing responses and trigger faster cell turnover.

Acid exfoliation sounds scary, but it’s effective and often more gentle than mechanical exfoliation. Your skin is already acidic, and the peel will cause the pH of the skin to drop further, which will release the skin cells. The factor that dictates how many layers of skin you remove is how much the pH of the skin drops. For example, a glycolic moisturizer may only have a pH of 4.0 (compared to your skin’s natural pH of 4.4-4.5), while a peel that you buy at Sephora may have a pH of 3.0. A peel that you may get a dermatologist’s office may go as low as 1.0 or 0.7. The lower the pH of the peel goes, the deeper the exfoliation. That is to say, the deeper the exfoliation, the more you will start to look like Samantha from Sex and the City did after her disastrous peel right before a big event.

Chemical peels don’t have to be full of synthetic chemicals, either. Many of the most common exfoliants can be derived naturally. Enzyme masks generally use extracts from papaya and pineapple to gently dissolve away skin. Acid peels are generally derived from food sources. Glycolic can be from sugar, lactic from milk, citric from citrus fruit, and so on. Check your ingredients list and ask questions if you’ve decided that natural ingredients are important for you.

Peels are my favorite way to get a fast glow. You can remove excess dead skin, nourish, and stimulate new growth all in one swipe. [Tweet this!] In fact, because professionals can access stronger, more effective products, I think springing for the add-on peel in a facial is a great way to take advantage of something you can’t get at home. Use them if your complexion is looking tired, if you’re suffering from acne, or if your anti-aging treatments seem to have plateaued.

 

 

Speak your mind!  Have you ever tried a chemical peel, or are you nervous to try? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

How To Save Your Skin From Stress

tips to stop your stress from showing on your faceNo matter how perfect your skin care routine is, we all hit points in life when we look less than radiant. Often it’s stress that zaps your glow. And the last thing you need when you’re feeling run down and tired from stress is looking like you’re run down and tired.

Stressed skin usually looks dull, and a dull complexion needs three things: exfoliation, hydration, and nourishment. [Tweet this!] Stress causes your body to deplete its vitamin stores, and your skin loses its nutrients first. It’s also more likely to break out as cortisol changes oil production. Here are some of my cheats to revitalize skin that needs extra help.

  • Mask, mask, mask. Facial masks can do just about anything you need for your skin. Fresh Rose Face Mask When my skin is looking dull and tired, I let a mask soak into my skin, even if I just squeeze in a few minutes in the shower. Whether I’m getting an extra shot of vitamins, a bit of exfoliation, or even a dose of hydration, my skin loves the help. Some to try? I love the Fresh Rose Face Mask for hydrating and revitalizing. Another favorite is the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel for extra exfoliation.

 

  • Brighten with a multi-vitamin serum or moisturizer. If you’re not alreadyiS Clinical Poly Vitamin Serum using a serum that lists vitamin C or niacinamide among its ingredients, get one now. Since your dull complexion is telling you that you’re lacking nutrients, make sure to add as many as you can. Some of my go-to skin care products are the iS Clinical Poly Vitamin Serum, which covers all of your needs with a blend of glycolic acid, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, or the Astara Antioxidant Light Moisturizer, which infuses tons of botanicals and nutrients into one lightweight product.

 

  • Grab a green juice. Finding time to eat healthy can be a challenge, and stress just makes me want to eat brownies. Maybe I’m the only one? Sometimes it’s easier to drink my veggies on the go. Greens have tons of phytonutrients and vitamins, and giving your body this boost will also help your skin get the nourishment it needs.

How do you save your skin when stress takes its toll?

Just the FAQs: If I Get A Chemical Peel, Will I Look Like Samantha From Sex and the City Did?

Samantha gets a chemical peelThe episode of Sex and the City where Samantha decides to get a “freshening” peel just days before Carrie’s book launch party is probably one of the most iconic moments in skin care. Not only did it put chemical peels on the map, it struck fear in the hearts of women everywhere, leading them to ask estheticians, even ten years later, “If I get a chemical peel, am I going to look like Samantha did when she got one?”

I love to recommend peels. Chemical exfoliation is my preferred way to get rid of dead skin cells. But without a doubt, people are nervous when they hear the word peel. Visions of red, flaking skin flash through their minds, and who wants to look like that? So what should you expect if you get a peel? The answer is, as always, it really depends.

First, it depends on who’s giving you the peel. The law governs who can do what peel in what strength. My license doesn’t even allow me to do a peel that would give you the severe redness and flaking that you see in this episode. Barring an adverse reaction, the most I can do without a doctor’s supervision is cause a bit of flakiness and flushing for a few days. If you’re at a dermatologist’s office, you are more likely to get a peel with “downtime,” or, a peel that will make you want to hide under a black veil for a few days.

Next, it depends on the strength of the peel. This is the tricky part to predict. Someone who is used to exfoliating (a regular glycolic or retinol user) will probably be more tolerant of stronger peels. Someone who’s recently used a prescription though, may find that their skin reacts more noticeably. Generally I recommend that if you’re going to get a peel, you should stop all prescriptions for seven days beforehand.

Samantha hides her chemical peel under a veilMild flaking is not the end of the world. It just means that your skin is healing. Remember that we break the skin down in order to build back stronger, and flaking is just a sign that stronger skin is growing. I will camouflage flaking with a great primer with lots of dimethicone, an ingredient that conceals texture by laying on the surface and filling in. Try Smashbox Photo Finish Primer if you need some help.

As a reader of this blog, you are obviously a savvy consumer. And savvy consumers ask lots of questions. Before agreeing to a peel, you need to ask about it. Specifically, how much flaking should I expect? How red will I be, and for how long? What home care should I use in the following days? How much pain can I expect?

The only mistake that Samantha made here was making her “impulse purchase” without thoroughly considering the side effects. Her skin probably looked great after ten days. Chemicals peels need to be thought about for an extra minute or two, but they are nothing to be afraid of.

 

 

 

Speak your mind! Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!