To many individuals the term “chemical peel” could be a scary thing. Many of us conjure up images of Samantha from Sex and the City after her not-so-pretty results from a chemical peel. While this iconic episode put chemical peels on the map, it also struck fear in the hearts of many people. Over a decade later, Aestheticians are constantly asked by their clients if they are going to look like Samantha.

Outdated misinformation usually found on the internet has created an unnecessary fear about chemical peels. Simply put, chemical peels remain a tried-and-true treatment for skin care and anti-aging. This non-invasive procedure can address aging concerns, acne, acne scarring, and discoloration. To dispel any false ideas about chemical peels we are here to give you the facts.

Myth #1: Your skin must peel in order to “peel”.

Your skin does not necessarily need to shed in order to receive an effective peel. Old-school ablative peels used in the past required the patient to go into hiding for days or even weeks. The reality is chemical peels do not have to disrupt your life! Today’s advanced acid-hybrid peels are designed to dissolve dead cell buildup. Depending on your concerns, you may have minimal to moderate shedding or no shedding at all. Your Aesthetician will educate you in which peel would be best suited for your skin.

Remember, the skin you want is lying under the skin you see.

Myth #2: My skin will be irritated from a chemical peel.

Chemical peels are typically divided into three categories: Superficial (the most common), Medium-depth, and Deep peels. Deep peels are no longer commonly performed due to the excessive downtime and risk of side effects such as loss of pigmentation. Instead, laser treatments are now used to correct and repair the skin while removing years from your appearance. These procedures are a safe, precise, and effective method of skin resurfacing, producing truly remarkable results.

Medium-depth peels are designed for individuals with deep wrinkles, pigmentation concerns, and moderate acne scarring or textural issues. These peels consist of acids, such as trichloroacetic acid (TCA), penetrating to deeper layers of the skin to provide dramatic results. Healing generally takes a week or two and the results can last for at least one year or even longer with proper care and maintenance.

Superficial peels are the most common of the chemical peels, but do not let the term “superficial” fool you. These peels can deliver impressive results! Superficial peels are typically performed with a specialized blend of alpha and beta hydroxyl acids. These peels work by eliminating cellular buildup and revealing the younger, vibrant skin that lies beneath. While some patients never actually peel from this type of chemical peel, others may shed for a few days post-peel. The peeling typically consists of light flaking that can be easily managed with products recommended by your Aesthetician. Peeling depends on the type of peel performed and your skin type.

When performed in a series of four to six or more Superficial peels, the results can be more effective, if not more than a Medium-depth peel.

Myth #3: Chemical peels are bad for you.

The term “chemical” may sound somewhat frightening. Who volunteers to put chemicals on their skin, never mind their face? Rest assured chemical peels are safe. Many chemical peels are derived from naturally occurring substances, such as the acids found in fruit in the case of alpha hydroxyl acids.

Myth #4: Stronger is better.

Monster-strength percentages of single acids are a thing of the past. These super-strength peels were aggressive and painful and often provided less than desirable results. New-age peels are formulated with precise blends of multiple exfoliating acids while including buffering agents to aid in healing.

Even though our culture’s “bigger is better” mantra has been ingrained into our mind; stronger is not better, especially when it comes to chemical peels.

Myth #5: A peel performed at a salon or spa is just as effective as a peel at a physician’s office.

While there are some effective treatments available at a spa or salon, by law these facilities can only offer a superficial exfoliation. These treatments cannot address concerns such as fine lines or deep wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, or textural issues. The “peels” performed at spas or salons are best suited for individuals looking for a hydrated glow that last a week or two.

In recent years, many retailers and skin care manufacturers have caught on to today’s consumer looking to renew their skin. Their response has been to offer an “at home peel”. These peel kits are designed to be used by the consumer in the privacy of their own home. Through deceptive marketing, the consumer is led to believe they will achieve the skin of their dreams; however their hopes often fall flat. The expected results are minimal since manufacturers cannot provide the appropriate strength ingredients that are necessary to deliver an effective exfoliation.

Buyer beware, peeling with acids is more than just a science; it is an art. Such an art evolves with experience and an in-depth understanding of the skin. While peels provided at salons, spas, or at-home-peel-kits may be much less effective than the chemical peel offered at a physician’s office, you must be cautious when dealing with such treatments. Acids, even in extremely low percentages, can cause injury and permanent scarring when not used properly. There are many factors to take into consideration when peeling the skin. If you are offered a peel, no matter how mild, without a full consultation addressing allergies, medication, medical conditions, and lifestyle; run. Run as fast as you can. An inexperienced or careless Aesthetician is gambling with your face.

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