Chemical peels are acid solutions applied to the skin. Most chemical peels aren’t actually peels, but instead gels, lotions, grams, and cleansers that dissolve the outermost layer of skin, allowing it to peel off over the following days. By removing old skin cells, chemical peels reveal the fresher layer below. Chemical peels are also referred to as epidermal exfoliation, chemexfoliation, and derma-peeling.
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Light chemical peels, also known as superficial peels, lunchtime peels, and deep exfoliants, are generally administered in a salon, skincare clinic, or spa.
There are a host of chemical peel formulations. However, most contain a solution of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA). A thin layer of the peel is applied to the skin and allowed to remain on the skin for a set period of time. Some peels require more than one layer.
AHAs are derived from natural sources, such as sugar cane, milk, and tomato juice. Some of the most well-known AHAs are citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid. AHAs are used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and texture, and improve acne, among others.
BHAs are used to treat scars and acne-prone skin, as they control the production of oil and loosen dead skin cells. Salicylic acid is the most popular BHA.
Medium peels penetrate the outer and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. Medium peels use a formulation that includes glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), pyruvic acid, or lactic acid (derived from milk), or a combination of two or more acids (called a Jessner Peel).
TCA is one of the highest level peels that delivers more pronounced results. It is used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, brown spots, and acne scars. TCA is also used to treat the lip and eye area to improve the appearance of dark circles, wrinkles, and fine lines.
The Jessner Peel uses a combination of salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol (a mild antiseptic). This potent peel is used for advanced acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, sun spots, wrinkles, and freckles.
Part of the client consultation process includes client education, which includes educating them about what to expect before, during and after the peel, at-home care, and expected outcomes and side effects.
Following the procedure, you will rebalance and moisturize the skin, which involves bringing the client’s pH level back to normal using a manufacturer’s recommended solution and replenishing the skin and protecting it from the sun.