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“Honey, I had a little something done and it’s not as bad as yesterday, but… I’ve looked better” – those famous words from Samantha Jones in SATC explaining a peel treatment are forever engrained in our minds. That scene gave peels a bad rap for awhile, but now they seem to be having a rebirth.
Chemical peels are really a form of mild to deep exfoliation, a minimally-invasive and essential component of facial rejuvenation. Peels are beneficial for all skin types, even sensitive skin, and can help many conditions from acne to melasma and wrinkles. They are also not only reserved for your face; peels can be done on any area, including hands, chest, arms and legs.
â€œPeels correct and reduce conditions of weakened skin such as damaged skin surface, pigmentation, uneven texture, lines and wrinkles. Not only will peels reverse these conditions, but they will increase the overall health of the skin,â€ says Beverly Hills Dermatologist Zein Obagi.
For starters, a peel is not a peel is not a peel. Peels come in all forms and sizes, and the more sun damage, discoloration or scars your skin has, the deeper the peel or the more peels you may need. Peels help remove damaged outer layers allowing a fresh, new layer of skin cells to naturally emerge. This results in stimulating a renewal process that reverses damage and makes skin look, feel, and even act younger.
Chemical peels offer dual cosmetic as well as medical benefits. Cosmetically, skin renewal by peeling improves pore size, mild pigmentation, skin texture and fine lines. Medically, a peel can improve acne, melasma, and actinic keratoses. “We recommend peels to those patients who want a more rapid improvement than a topical product can provide, but who don’t have time for more invasive laser treatments,” says Bonnie Marting ARNP who works with Plastic Surgeon Daniel Morello at Anushka Spa, West Palm Beach, FL.
Chemical peels offer various benefits depending on skin type and desired result. Light peeling agents such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)â€”glycolic, lactic, or fruit acidsâ€”beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and salicylic acid are milder acids that induce a faster sloughing of the cells in the epidermis. Deeper peels are achieved with tricholoroacetic acid (TCA) and stimulate renewal in the dermis. The epidermis heals in a few days giving the skin an renewed appearance, a more even color, smoother texture, and a healthier glow. Some plastic surgeons still also use Phenol and Croton Oil peels, which are widely attributed to Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Baker in the 1960s, and have since become a classic deep peel technique, although less commonly used with the advent of ablative resurfacing lasers.
- Decrease fine lines, especially under the eyes and mouth
- Improve mild scarring and some types of acne
- Reduce discoloration, such as sun spots, age spots, freckles and blotchiness, melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Help topical products to penetrate better by removing the top layer of dead cells
In addition to professional peels, skin peeling can be achieved by using retinoidsâ€”a class of compounds derived from vitamin A. At-home peels have also become a mainstay in bathrooms everywhere. The concept of sloughing dead cells in the privacy of your own home appeals to many, and the choices are expansive.
The new ZO Invisapeelâ„¢ Intensive Resurfacing Peel ($70) from ZO Medical is formulated for both facial and non-facial skin such as hands, arms, and legsâ€”any place that can use some smoothing, firming, and brightening. â€œThis peel is suitable for a wide range of skin types and ages. It addresses a broad spectrum of skin concerns ranging from acne and sun damage to flaky skin and roughness,â€ says Dr. Obagi. Invisapeelâ„¢ targets the accelerated repair of problems like acne, discoloration, flaky skin, and roughness with a specialized enzyme blend. The enzymes papain and bromelain, plus glycolic acid, enhance and accelerate repair while diglycerin restores moisture to prevent irritation. Usage is simple: apply after cleansing and leave Invisapeelâ„¢ on for one to three hours.
Another good one to try is the Neostrata Skin Active Perfecting Peel, which comes as a two-step kit that is simple to use. Just open the foil packet and apply, leave on for ten minutes, then open the second foil packet to neutralize the peel and you’re done. It is formulated with a 20% blend of alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, and citric acid. With regular weekly use, the Perfecting Peel has been clinically proven to improve skin clarity and brightness and diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.