We all have heard about chemical peels. And most of us would have taken multiple sessions of chemical peels as per the recommendation of our friends, relatives, or doctor without knowing the A, B, C of the same. So in this blog, we will be discussing the same and unravelling a few facts about chemical peels.

A chemical peel is basically an exfoliation technique that is used to attain an overall rejuvenation of the skin. Rejuvenated skin is majorly smoother, even-toned, and youthful. Chemical peeling is not only recommended for the face but also for the other body areas as well. 

How do a chemical peel work and help attain the rejuvenated skin?

A chemical peel works as an exfoliant, which helps in the removal of the superficial layer of skin and thus removes dead and tanned skin leaving a glowing smooth textured skin behind. As superficial damaged skin cells are removed, it works by removing some of the pigmentations and also for sun-damaged skin. Certain peels work by stimulating collagen production and unclogging the pores. Depending on your concern and skin’s requirement, there are different types of peel options available, which vary in terms of their effectiveness and concerns they target. Also, the side effects are majorly dependent on the ingredients they contain and their concentration due to which the duration for which the peel should be applied and post-care that has to be followed after each peel varies to a great extent. 

Peels can be classified on the basis of their strength and penetration levels. 

Superficial peel: As the name suggests, this works very superficially and only penetrates the outer layer of the skin. This is a very mild acid composition of Alpha-hydroxyl acid and does a very gentle exfoliation of the skin. These peels can be used on body areas like face, neck, and chest and help in treating mild discoloration and rough skin.

Medium Peel: This has the tendency to penetrate little deeper than the superficial peel and penetrate up till the middle layer of skin peels like trichloroacetic acid. Glycolic acid helps in the removal of damaged skin layer, thus also working on moderate discoloration, freckles, age spots, sun spots, etc.

Deep peels: These peels have a tendency to penetrate deeper layers of skin. 

We Have Got A Rough Classification Of Peels On The Basis Of Their Penetration, Let’s Discuss A Few Common Peels:

Salicylic Acid Peels: Many of us would have heard about this peel, especially for acne. It is a beta hydroxy acid that is used for acne-prone skin. It works better on oily skin as salicylic acid dissolves in the oil and helps in unclogging the pore by penetrating deeper into them. These should be done under expert supervision who can analyze the skin and use the concentration of peel accordingly.

Glycolic Acid Peels: This is an alpha hydroxy acid peel. AHA is naturally found in fruits and is very well known to treat sun-damaged skin and improve skin tone by working upon uneven skin. A wide concentration of Glycolic acid ranging from 20%-70% is used depending on the severity of the condition. The results are dependent on the strength of the peel and application time. This peel should be neutralized in 2-4 mins of time as if left of longer duration can cause side effects too.

Trichloroacetic Acid Peels: Famously known as TCA peel is very strong. It is stronger than the glycolic and salicylic acid peel. Depending on the percentage of peel applied, it can be classified into superficial (10%-30%) and medium (35% -50%) depth peel. They not only help in treating pigmentation and sun damage but also work on fine lines. Depending on the strength, the downtime of the peel can vary, leading to visible flakiness and dryness.

Combination Peel: At times, more than one active ingredient is combined together. There are several combination peels available these days, including various active ingredients like lactic acid, citric acid, mandelic acid, etc.

Yellow Peel: This is a well-known combination peel that has retinoic acid as its main active ingredient. The best part of this peel is reduced damage and hence reduced recovery time. Retinoic acid or Retinol helps in effective cleansing of the skin, thus leaving a glowing and radiant skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties in it, which helps improves texture and adds on a lifting effect as well.

Peels Can Also Be Classified On The Basis Of The Indications They Treat. These include: 

1. Acne: Salicylic peel helps in reducing acne and whiteheads.

2. Superficial Acne Scars, Fine Lines, And Photoaging :- The peels that have anti-aging effect includes TCA peel, which works by inducing collagen production, thus improving fine and also effectively works on the ice pick scars.

3. Pigmentation: Conditions like blemishes, hyperpigmentation, melasma require little stronger peels like fruit acid peels that contain AHA, which helps in reducing pigmentation. There are other advanced peels like lactic acid peel, and combination peels like yellow peel are very effective in reducing pigmentation.

4. Body Pigmentation: Stubborn pigmentation patches on the body need stronger peels to show improvements. So here, TCA peel can work wonders and give visible improvements on body areas like the back, underarms, knees, elbows, etc.

One question that always pops up in our minds is, how many sessions do we need?

The answer to this will always be different for different people. Generally, successive sessions ranging from 3 to 6 are required to get desired results, but depending upon the patient’s concern and present condition, this can vary. The average gap between two sessions has to be 3 to 4 weeks, which can again vary depending upon the downtime and strength of the peel. 

Is there any specific pre and post-procedure care?

Yes! There are certain pre and post-procedure care that has to be taken care of. Always consult an expert dermatologist before opting for any kind of treatment. They will help you understand your concern, the cause of the same, and the best treatment option available for you. Your dermatologist might recommend you stop waxing, epilating, or laser hair removal treatments at least one week before your session. You might be prescribed additional creams and serums like glycolic acid lotion to improve the effectiveness of results. Generally, facial treatments, exfoliants, scrubs, etc. are also stopped before the treatment. In certain cases where the patient has any history of cold sores, fever blisters are also recommended to opt for antiviral medication. Thus always consult before a peel treatment. 

Talking About Post-Treatment Care:

  • Avoid direct sun exposure for a minimum of 24 to 48 hours after the treatment. 
  • Avoid any type of face wash or soaps on the treated area for about 24 hours and, instead, use plain water to wash your face. 
  • No makeup for the next 24 to 48 hours after the treatment. Chemical peels, if done under expert guidance, can give you wonderful results. But it is advisable to get it done by an expert after consulting your dermatologist. Keep Healthy! Keep Glowing!