Category Archives: Chemical Peel

Preparing For A Chemical Peel

A professional chemical peel is part of many skin care rountines; they are effective when getting ready for a big event like a wedding or to soften the signs of aging.

A chemical peel you receive from your esthetician falls into one of two categories:

  1. Superficial peels are left on the skin for 2-6 minutes then neutralized with water or a neutralizing agent. These are often part of a facial treatment and a popular example is glycolic acid.
  2. Medium depth peels are more aggressive and self-neutralizing. They may produce several days of shedding skin and a popular chemical peel is this category is the Jessner Peel.

Medium depth, self-neutralizing chemical peels are very effective for a variety of concerns. Hyper-pigmentation, acne, acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity can all be improved with peels from this category. 

Your esthetician will determine which blend of acid is best for your skin type and concerns. There are many chemical peels available, most use combinations of TCA, retinol. salicyic, lactic, and mandelic acids.

If you are prone to cold sores or know you have oral herpes, take preventive medication for 2 days before having a medium depth chemical peel. Some peels can initiate a flare up.

During the treatment, multiple layers of solution will be applied to your skin with time for each layer to dry between applications. Your esthetician will use a fan to cool your skin and minimize discomfort.

Your skin will be protected with sunscreen after the chemical peel is applied. You cannot wash your face or sweat for at least 5 hours so schedule your appointment accordingly. You may have a chemical peel in the evening and safely sleep with the solution on your face. Thoroughly wash it off the following morning before showering or working out, you don’t want the solution to run into your eyes!

Over the next 36-48 hours, your skin will feel tight and smooth, maybe a little warm. The tight skin begins to shed around the mouth first since your facial movement helps loosen the dead skin. The shedding continues to the cheeks, forehead, and hairline over the next few days.

Schedule your chemical peel when you have no important events for the following 10-14 days.

Some skin types take longer to start the shedding process, some have a “second shed” (day of light but visible dryness) after the major shedding is finished. Skin can be unpredictable so give yourself ample time to heal before any important events.

While your skin is shedding, use gentle, hydrating products. Cream cleanser, calming moisturizer, and physical sunscreen is all you need.

Don’t use products with active ingredients for at least 14 days after your chemical peel. 

Contact your esthetician if you have any questions or your skin has a bad reaction. Allergies aren’t common but they do happen!

Do you have questions about your skin and what products you should be using? Have an Online Skin Care Consult with Hannah!

Fusion Peel

Is the Fusion Peel right for you? Springtime is a popular time of year for chemical peels but make sure you know what to expect before you take the leap.

The Fusion Peel is a blend of acids and fruit enzymes that remove the outermost layers of dead skin with minimal discomfort and irritation while providing maximum results. This peel is suitable for all skin types, including more sensitive skin that is may be less tolerant to chemical peels.

This medium strength chemical peel combines TCA, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Resorcinol, Ascorbic Acid, Papaya Fruit Extract, Pineapple Extract, and Pumpkin Seed Extract. The unique blend of acids makes the Fusion Peel safe for all skin.

The Fusion Peel will produce light peeling, similar to the peeling you would get after a mild sunburn. The peeling will normally start 4 to 5 days after the treatment and last up to 7 days.

Once the peeling has stopped, your skin tone will be more even, sun damage will be lighter and pores will be smoother. A series of treatments will help you tighten your skin as well.

The amount of peeling you experience depends on the amount of dead skin you have. If you exfoliate regularly the peeling may be light, if not it may be more intense.

Book your Fusion Peel now!

Can I use Coconut Oil After a Chemical Peel?

This question comes up often in the search topics that lead people to my blog so I thought I would address it directly.

The short answer is no, coconut oil is one of the most comedogenic oils which means it is very likely to clog the pores on your face.

While healing from a chemical peel, the skin is very sensitive. It is important to use a gentle cleanser and high quality moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated without clogging the pores.

Using a comedogenic product to heal the skin after a chemical peel can clog the pores and cause an acne breakout which is often the cycle we are trying to end by doing the peel in the first place.

How do I get rid of acne scars?

Having acne is bad enough but the scars it leaves behind can linger for much longer than the breakouts themselves.

Acne scars fall into two major categories:

1. Discoloration; usually red spots or hyperpigmentation. Both red spots and hyperpigmetation are the skins response to inflammation from the acne lesion.

2. Uneven texture of varying degrees; this can be a combination of raised areas and indentations, severe indentations are often called “ice pick scars”.

In this post, I will focus on treatment options for the second category of acne scars, the uneven texture left behind from severe breakouts.

First and foremost, establish a skincare routine to keep new breakouts under control before you spend time and money to treat acne scars.

For most scars, crystal microdermabrasion is a very effective treatment. The minimal downtime and affordable cost make it accessible however it is important to remember a series a treatments will be required.

Depending on the depth of the scars 6-12 sessions may be necessary to achieve the desired results. These treatments are be done weekly or bi-weekly.

Chemical peels, like Jessners Peel or  TCA peel are also very effective for smoothing texture and lightening hyperpigmentation.

The most effective results I’ve had treating acne scars used a combination of crystal microdermabrasion and chemical peels done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis combined with the proper home care routine.

It’s important to be patient, clearing acne scars can take 6 months or longer, but the end result is worth it!

How to Prepare for a Chemical Peel

1. Schedule a consultation with your skin care professional to determine the best chemical peel for your skin type and the results you want to achieve.

2.Schedule the peel when you have enough downtime to allow for any flaking and peeling that may occur in the days following the treatment.

2. Follow the pre-peel skin care routine prescribed to you. This usually includes retinol creams, Retin A or Hydroquinone products to start the renewal process and increase the benefits of the chemical peel.

3. Stay out of the sun! Wear at least an SPF 30 every day.

4. Stop all exfoliating products 3 days prior to your chemical peel appointment.

Do I need a chemical peel?

Most people can benefit from some type of chemical peel.

Chemical peels are the preferred treatment to address many skin conditions like acne, fine lines, wrinkles, scars, hyperpigmentation and melasma.

There are many types of chemicals peels to choose from, the trick is finding the right one for your skin and your concerns.

When it comes to chemical peels the more results you want to see, the more downtime you will have after the treatment! There is no magic solution that will erase years of damage without a period of redness and flaking after the application. Sometimes a series of lighter chemical peels will achieve similar results to one more aggressive peel, this may be a better option for sensitive skin types.

Schedule a consultation with your skin care professional to determine what is the best option for you.

How do I care for my skin after a chemical peel?

Professional Chemical Peels are a great way to improve many skin issues with very little downtime.

When having a medium depth, self neutralizing chemical peel (like a Jessners Peel or a light TCA peel) the skin barrier is compromised. How you care for your skin during the week after the treatment can greatly affect the results.

Immediately after the treatment, your skin may be red and feel tight. Make sure your skin care therapist applies sunscreen before you leave the studio and reapply sunscreen as necessary throughout the day. Most peels need to be left on the skin for 5 hours or longer after the application so don’t wash your face or do any activity that makes you sweat.

The flaking generally begins 36-48 hours after the application of the peel. Be very gentle with you skin during this time. Use a gentle cleanser followed by a rich moisturizer and lots of sunscreen.

The flaking generally lasts 3-5 days depending on the depth of the peel and the condition of your skin. Most importantly, DO NOT pick at the flaking skin! When washing your face, use a gentle circular motion with your hands (no washcloth or face brush) to help the dead skin slough.

If you have a lot of clogged pores, you may experience a breakout during the flaking process. Do not use any products designed to dry the skin: salicylic acid, glycolic acid etc. Treat your skin very gently, the breakouts should clear up quickly as the skin cells turn over.

Do not use any products containing Retin A, retinol, AHA, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or any other acid during the healing phase. Reintroduce these products when you feel your skin has fully healed, everyone is different but two weeks post-peel is a good guideline.

Plan to have your chemical peel 2-4 weeks prior to a major event to allow your skin to fully heal. I recommend medium depth chemical peels 2-4 times a year for most of my clients concerned with acne and anti-aging.

Exfoliation

Take a stroll down the skin care aisle at any major retailer and you will get a sense that exfoliating your skin is important.

Why has exfoliation become such an important part of our skin care routine? And what is the best method for your skin type?

The skin is comprised of four layers, the top layer includes dead and dying skin cells. In young, healthy skin, these dead cells flake off in a normal cycle of about 28 days.

As we age, or our skin becomes damaged by exposure to the elements, this normal cycle begins to slow. If these dead skin cells are allowed to remain on the face for a longer period of time, the skin begins to appear rough and dull. This excess skin can also clog pores and cause blackheads.

There are many exfoliation products on the market, most fall into one of these categories:

Physical: Anything that uses particles to removes dead skin cells. Scrubs, face brushes and microdermabrasion treatments are all physical exfoliators.

Enzyme: These products use an enzyme, usually derived from fruit, to dissolve the bonds that trap dead skin cells and slow the natural skin cell turn over. An enzyme exfoliator, usually in the form of a gel or cream, is left on the skin for a short period of time to allow it to penetrate.

Chemical: Anything that uses an acid to remove dead skin cells is a chemical exfoliator. Glycolic and salicylic are two of the most popular acids used in this manner. Professional chemical peels also fall into this category.

My favorite method of exfoliating at home on a regular basis (1-2 times per week) is an enzyme mask. Enzymes are more effective and predictable than scrubs and carry less of a chance of reaction than chemicals.

For best results, professional exfoliating treatments like chemical peels and microdermabrasion should be incorporated into your routine.

Consult a professional to determine the best course of treatment for your skin type. Many of my clients with combination skin and fear of aging have a session of microdermabrasion every 4-6 weeks and a light chemical peel 3-4 times a year.

Pregnancy and Skin Care

With all the hormonal changes your body goes thru during pregnancy and breast feeding, your skin can feel like it’s on a roller coaster ride.

Many over the counter and prescription acne treatments aren’t safe to use during pregnancy and breast feeding. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin (Retin A, Tazarac etc.) and retinol are NOT recommended for use when you are pregnant or breast feeding.Glycolic acid based products are the best way to control excess oil and keep acne to a minimum without affecting your growing fetus or tainting breast milk.

Professional glycolic peels and cleansing facials with extractions also help keep the skin balanced and healthy during this time.

Melasma is a common concern during pregnancy. The excess hormonal activity can trigger what is commonly called the “mask of pregnancy”, large patches of dark skin on the cheeks, forehead or jawline. Most discoloration fades within 6 months but the process can be helped along with glycolic acid peels and microdermabrasion.

Jessners Peels are very helpful in removing hormonal pigmentation but should not be done while you are pregnant or breast feeding.

How often do I need a facial?

Do you wait until you get a gift certificate to think about skin care? If so, chances are you need facials more often!

Consistency is key. For general maintenance of healthy skin, I recommend a Cleansing Facial every 4-6 weeks. Having your pores cleaned on a regular basis allows them to shrink and become less noticeable.

New skin cells replace the old ones every 28-32 days, when treating a condition like acne scars, it is beneficial to have a professional treatment twice during this cycle. I recommend a series of 6 sessions of Microdermabrasion spaced 2 weeks apart for maximum results, then follow up treatments ever 3 months.

This same model works well with glycolic peels for acne prone skin.

If money or time is an issue, figure out a frequency that fits your budget and stick with it; even if it’s 2-4 times a year. Quarterly facials are more beneficial than four monthly sessions in a row then a large gap until your next treatment.

Find an esthetician that you like and stick with him or her! There is an added benefit to visits with someone who knows the history of your skin especially through hormonal changes like pregnancy and menopause. And it’s nice to have someone you know pamper you after a rough day!

Skin care from the neck down

I share a lot of information about skin care for the face but what about the rest of your body? Here are few tips just in time for winter!

Use warm water when you bathe or shower. Hot water will dry your skin which causes flaking and itchiness. Skin on the body doesn’t have as many oil glands as the face so it becomes dry more easily.

Use soap or body wash only on the important areas, using too much of these products will dry you skin. If you have chronically dry skin, try a body wash that contains colloidal oatmeal which soothes the skin.

Use an unscented body lotion or cream every day. I like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream when my skin is dry. I specify unscented because most commercial scents contain alcohol which is drying. If you like a scented cream, add a few drops of an organic essential oil. Use a moisturizer with SPF on any areas that will be exposed to the sun during the day like arms, hand and chest.

For rough heels, knees and elbows, I alternate between Glycolix Elite 15 Percent Body Lotion to exfoliate the skin and a rich cream (like RAW Cocoa Butter) to moisturize. Glycolic lotion is also helpful when treating rough, bumpy patches on the upper arms (usually a result of dry skin).

Make sure you are drinking enough water during the winter months. Moisturizers work to seal in moisture so you need to hydrate from the inside out for the best results. And remember, any non-caffeinated beverage, fruit juice or soup counts towards your daily water intake!

“What do YOU use?”

Several times a week, a client asks me “What do you use?”.

I have a closet full of products, most of them are given to me by product reps trying to get (or keep) my business; if I really like a product it goes in the “I’d pay retail for it!” category.

My recommendations vary depending on skin type, but here is a breakdown what I’m currently using:

Daily:

I wash my face during my morning shower with iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. I use a few drops of iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum Advance+ under my sunscreen. I’m a sunscreen junkie, I love Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer: I mix it with a bit of my foundation for a customized tinted moisturizer.

I wash my face when I get home from work (before I head to the gym or yoga). I use my Vitamin Therapy Fortifying Cleanser, the sulfate-free formula uses soy and avocado oils which dissolve dirt, oil and makeup. I’ve always been too lazy to use a proper makeup remover and this does the job! If my skin feels especially dirty, I wash twice: lather, rinse, repeat.

My nighttime routine varies. I always use my Firming Peptide Eye Therapy but I change it up between Nightly Therapy Retinol Complex and iS Clincal Youth Complex.

Every 8-12 weeks:

I like to have a cleansing facial every 8 weeks, I always need extractions!

I give myself a Jessners Peel or a South Beach Peel 3-4 times a year, covering my face, neck and decollete area. This keeps my melasma and fine lines under control and stimulates collagen production.

I’ve attempted to self-administer an Iderm treatment or Microdermabrasion and the results are comical! Some things are better left to the professionals.

Every 6-8 months:

I use Dysport on the vertical line on my forehead. The result is more subtle than Botox and only require maintenance every 6-8 months.

photo 2 copyIn 2008, I had an Affirm CO2 fractional laser treatment on my entire face, eyelids and neck. The doctor I worked with needed a test subject for his new laser; I don’t advocate an aggressive procedure like this for most people in their 30’s.

That being said, the results were amazing!

The laser eliminated all of my hyper-pigmentation, most of my residual acne scars and tightened my skin more than I was expecting. My face swollen and flaky for a week but considering the downtime versus the results, I will do it again in the future.

 

As I (rapidly) approach my 40th birthday, I try to keep my expectations reasonable. I do what I can to keep my skin healthy and youthful but I refuse to make it a full time job; balance is important. The routine listed above does a lot for my appearance but so does my healthy diet, regular Bikram Yoga practice, Zen meditation and general attitude towards life; don’t take it all so seriously!

The “Liquid Facelift”

The combination of injectable fillers, neurotoxins and professional chemical peels is often referred too as a “Liquid Facelift”. When combined, these 3 procedures have a profound anti-aging effect that can replace or delay invasive surgery.

Neurotoxins like Botox and Dysport act to temporarily disable the nerve signals that cause muscle movement. Injections of neurotoxins are common in the forehead, the glabella (between the eyes; “the elevens”), and the outer edge of the eye, the “crows feet”. These injections can be performed by a dermatologist or a nurse.

Botox has been on the market for over 10 years and onset of action is about 1-2 weeks from treatment. Dysport was approved 2 years ago, has a smaller molecule size so onset of action is a little as 2-3 days and is priced slightly lower than Botox. The smaller molecule also causes the product to spread more which can result in a softer look.

Fillers like Restylene, Juvaderm, Perlane, and Radiesse temporarily fill in deep smile lines, add volume to lips, under eyes and cheeks. Each filler varies slightly; some are softer therefore better for use in the lips or other areas with a lot of movement, some are more dense so they work well in the cheeks or under the eyes. Most fillers last between 6-9 months depending on the filler and the area that was injected.

A medium or deep chemical peel will produce the most profound results. This procedure can be done the day before or the day after the injections but not the same day. Having injections during the same visit at a chemical peel, can cause scabbing at the injection site.

The “Liquid Facelift” is a great option for people who want a profound anti-aging effect without anesthesia and surgery.

Professional Chemical Peels

There are a wide range of professional chemical peels available. These treatments range from light glycolic acid peels that can be incorporated into cleansing facials to intense TCA peels that require 8-10 days of recovery time.

This is a comprehensive list of the most popular peels/peel ingredients in each category: light, medium and deep. New combinations of these ingredients are being used all the time (and often given new names) so don’t be afraid to ask what acids are in the peel you are about to receive.

Light Chemical Peels:

Glycolic acid is the most widely used chemical peel ranging in strength from 2%-70%. Glycolic acid exfoliates the top layer of the skin which minimizes surface pigment, fine lines and blackheads. It is safe to use during pregnancy and while breast feeding. The peel solution is applied to the face, left on for 2-5 minutes, then neutralized with water. This makes glycolic acid an ideal chemical peel to incorporate into a basic facial.

Salicylic acid is the most effective chemical peel for acne prone skin. Derived from white willow bark, it is chemically similar to aspirin which makes is unsafe to use during pregnancy and while breast feeding. Most professional salicylic acid peels are 20% strength: the solution is applied to skin after cleansing and degreasing with alcohol or acetone. 5-7 minutes after application, the heat and tingling subside and a cooling serum is applied; this is called a self-neutralizing peel. The solution must remain on the skin for at least 5 hours after the application but you may apply sunscreen and makeup during this time. Often, there is some light flaking of the skin 2-3 days after the peel is applied. This is normal and should subside with an application of moisturizer.

Lactic acid is the most gentle chemical peel available. It is derived from a milk enzyme and gently digests the dead skin cells. Lactic acid ranges in strength from 2%-70%, it ideal for sensitive skin types and is self-neutralizing.

Medium Chemical Peels:

The Jessners Peel is 14% lactic acid, 14% resorcinol (a phenol derivative), 14% salicylic acid and .3% retinoic acid. This specific combination of acids was pioneered over 30 years ago by Dr. Max Jessner as a way to reduce the harsh side effects of stronger acids yet provide significant results. There are a number of “modified Jessner’s” on the market and many of them have their own names: the Vitalize Peel from Skin Medica is a popular one. Jessners Peels are the most effective peel for lightening hyper-pigmentation and melasma. The formula is self-neutralizing and the depth can be controlled by the number of layers applied. The final layer is .3% retinoic acid which leaves a yellowish tint on the face. You may apply sunscreen and makeup but the solution needs to remain on the skin for at least 5 hours. Approximately, 36-48 hours after the application, the skin begins flaking. The amount of flaking depends on the amount of dead skin build up: if you exfoliate regularly the flaking may be light, if not it may be more intense. The flaking lasts for 3-5 days and you are left with smoother, more even toned skin.

The South Beach Peel is 7% TCA (tricholoracetic acid), 2% salicylic acid and .3% retinoic acid and was developed by a Miami-based doctor whose goal was to create a peel that wouldn’t leave his patients with increased sun sensitivity. This formula is self-neutralizing as well and the final layer is .3% retinoic acid which leaves a yellowish tint to the face. You may apply sunscreen and makeup but the solution needs to remain on the skin for at least 5 hours. Approximately, 36-48 hours after the application, the skin begins flaking. The flaking is usually more intense than the Jessners Peel and lasts for 4-7 days.

Deep Chemical Peels:

Tricholoracetic acid peel, commonly know as “TCA peel” is the most aggressive commonly used chemical peel. Lower strengths (5-7%) will provide a medium depth peel, while higher concentrations (10-30%) provide a deeper peel and require recovery time. There haven’t been conclusive studies about the effects of TCA and pregnancy so it is best to avoid while pregnant or breast feeding. The application process is similar to the Jessners Peel and The South Beach Peel; TCA is self neutralizing and needs to remain on the skin for at least 5 hours. The recovery period of peeling and redness can last from 8-10 days. TCA is the best option for large areas of the body, it minimizes sun damage and can even exfoliate surface cancer cells.