Chemical Peel Your Way To A Healthy Complexion

May 30, 2017

Dear San Francisco, Don't Be Afraid of Chemical Peels.  

I include a chemical peel in 99% of facials at The Skin Clinic for one reason: I am a firm believer that it is one of the best anti-aging skin care treatments available. Having given thousands of facials over the last 25 years, this is THE method to slow down the aging process and restore damaged skin back to a healthy glow. Depending on the type of skin being treated, it can effectively “resurface” the skin in as little as 2-3 treatments with minimal downtime and at a fraction of the cost of more invasive skin treatments (think a facelift or micro-needling).  Those who suffer from acne scarring, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation from too much time in the sun are able to have all the old, dull, dead dermal cells removed from the surface of their skin to allow for lighter, brighter, new cells to grow.  Those looking to simply reduce the effects of father time are able to see a reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes almost immediately. Needless to say, with prolonged use of chemical peels, you can actually turn back the clock on your skin to reveal a fresher, healthier, and radiant complexion.

Now, I have aggregated a tremendous amount of information on my Chemical Peel FAQ page found here, so in this blog I am offering a more “readable” version for those that care to skip the science and learn just the basics of what, when, why, and how :).

How Chemical Peels Work

Chemical peels work by causing a “controlled injury” to the outermost layers of the skin through a solution of acids ranging from mild to deep penetration.  By removing the outermost layers of the skin, called the “stratumcorneum”, chemical peels stimulate the body’s natural healing response to speed up cell metabolism and create brand new skin cells.

Types of Skin Peels

First Floor

Mild chemical peels are what I use most often to improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, mild acne scarring, and mild hyperpigmentation. They remove only a small part of the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, which results in some dryness and flaking.  After about 3 - 7 days you will start to see a brighter, more even toned and smooth complexion.

I recommend having a mild skin peel four to six times over a period of two to three months. The results of a mild peel last about one month, but you can have maintenance peels performed monthly.

When performing these more superficial peels I typically use alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) like glycolic acid or salicylic acid to remove the epidermis, or uppermost layer of skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the gentlest acids used in skin peels and include glycolic (sugar), lactic (dairy), citric (citrus), and malic (apples). A gentle tingling to a mild burning sensation is felt, but lasts for 5-10 minutes and can be calmed with a gentle breeze of a fan.

The Mezzanine Level

I use medium-depth skin peels to penetrate further to remove the epidermis and some of the dermis, or underlying middle layer of skin. Often, I will perform a mild peel before a medium-depth peel, in order to give you a more effective skin treatment during the subsequent visit. Medium-depth peels are used to treat wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, acne, acne scarring, as well as precancerous growths.

Many factors contribute to the amount of “downtime” a client may experience including mild to moderate irritation for the first few hours following the procedure. During this period, I keep in close contact with my client making sure they do not experience excessive side effects and take proper care of their soon to be fresh new face.

Medium-depth peels may also cause excessive pinkness of the skin, which may not completely fade away until the skin has healed. New skin should appear within the first two weeks after treatment, though it can sometimes take as long as three months before the pinkness completely fades and the skin can be considered fully healed.

The Depths Below

I am a huge fan of deep skin peels, especially as a facelift alternative since they penetrate all the way to the subcutaneous, or third and deepest, layer of skin.  In my practice I reserve the deeper penetrating solutions for the spot treatment of melasma, deep wrinkles, scarring, sun damage and precancerous growths of the skin that can not be reached with a medium strength peel.  I will use either a Q-tip or a toothpick to pinpoint the exact location of the damage and apply the solution. By being very specific and precise, I can control the amount of injury to the skin and thus the healing or down time of the client.

Phenol is more caustic than other chemical peel ingredients and carries risk of permanent pigmentation changes, demarcation lines and sensitivity to sunlight. Petroleum jelly or another ointment may be applied after a phenol peel to protect the skin. Recovery time for deep peels can range from a week to several months, depending on the severity of the skin condition treated.

How To Care For Your Skin After A Chemical Peel

After a chemical peel, skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen every day (!).

Treat your skin like you have a mild sunburn. Change to a fresh, clean pillowcase, avoid hot and super cold water, be gentle to the touch, and don't pick!

Any product applied to the face should say "broad-spectrum" on the label, meaning it protects against the sun's UVA and UVB rays but it should also be a minimum of SPF 30.  As a general rule, limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear a wide-brimmed hat when you are out and about for a prolonged amount of time.

Kasnoff Skincare & Cosmetics Products To Help Prepare Your Skin For A Chemical Peel

Cleanse nightly with Stimulating Cleansing Paste to break up oil and debris

Protect daily with Oil Defense SPF 15 & Nourish nightly with Oil Defense Night Treatment. The glycolic  and salicylic acid stimulates your skin’s cellular turnover while Arnica soothes.

Kasnoff Skincare & Cosmetics Products To Help Soothe Your Skin After A Chemical Peel

Nourish your skin with Repair Balm boosted with Soothe (Essential Oil blends coming soon!)

Apply Reparative Moisture Cream liberally at night for excessive dryness.

Utilize the Brightening Duo both day and night for extra SPF and ingredients that promote an even skin tone.

Beautify with Retexturizing Primer or Mineral Sheer Tint to moisturize & keep flakes at bay.

Until your next facial ~
Want to learn more about The Skin Clinic's Founder? Read her story here.

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