Complete Guide to Chemical Peel Treatments

A Guide to Different Types of Chemical Peels

The skincare market has long been flooded with new fads and “magic” treatments, all promising youthful, healthy, and defect-free skin, so it can be hard to know what treatment can work for you and your unique needs. Recently, chemical peels have been retaking the spotlight as they are extremely versatile, often quick and painless, and seldom break the bank. Modern techniques and processes have only further improved their effectiveness and worth, but the amount of info surrounding them can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to get started and find the right chemical peel treatment for you.

A Guide to Chemical Peel Treatments

What Are Chemical Peels & How Do They Work? 

A skin peel refers to a product or procedure that administers the use of one or more acids to promote peeling, and thus resurfacing, of your skin. As the acid penetrates through your pores, it locks into the skin cells to repair damage, kill bacteria, and improve the overall health of the skin. It stimulates cell regrowth in order to reveal a fresher, smoother look.

Chemical peels vary in depths and strength of acids which allow each treatment to be personalized for each individual’s skin type and concern.

What Are the Benefits of Chemical Peel Treatments?

Whether you are looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, give your skin a completely fresh start, or combat skin conditions that you are self-conscious about, a chemical peel treatment is likely to help. Your hands, neck, and face can be treated for any of the following:

  • They treat and reduce wrinkling and fine lines caused by sun damage, age spots, or genetic disposition.
  • Can improve the appearance of all grades of acne, reduce acne breakout episodes, and minimize freckles, and mild facial scarring (acne or other).
  • Can help treat skin conditions like pigmentation (hyper/hypo), skin laxity, dark spots (melasma – due to birth control or pregnancy), actinic keratoses which are precancerous scaly spots.
  • Smooths out skin texture, revitalizes dull complexions, and treats uneven skin tones.
  • Helps stimulate healthy skin cell growth, and collagen production.
  • Increases skin absorption by producing healthy layers of skin, enabling skincare products to penetrate deeper. In turn, your skin’s PH will balance improving hydration.

What Are the Different Types of Chemical Peels?

There are different types of chemical peels to suit different skin types, grouped into three categories according to the strength of the treatment. These categories, listed below, are Superficial, Medium, and Deep.

Superficial or Light Chemical Peel Treatments

The most commonly used chemical peel treatments are classified as superficial or medium. They typically don’t penetrate very deeply, but this also makes them convenient, safe, and perfectly suited to those with sensitive skin.

  • Mini Mélange (Retinoid): this is a retinoid and arbutin based chemical peel that is an effective treatment for superficial or medium-depth melasma in both pregnant and non-childbearing individuals. Whether you have dark spots from pregnancy, or from sun exposure or genetics, the mini mélange can improve your skin’s appearance and texture. It can also even out your skin, lighten your skin tone, remove dead skin cells, and reduce inflammation hotspots.
  • AHA Peel (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): this type of peel is derived from naturally occurring acids found in items like sugar cane (glycolic), apples (malic), grapes (tartaric), other fruits (citric), and fermented milk (lactic). Because of this, AHA peels tend to be one of the mildest forms of chemical peels that you can get, and are given to individuals looking for healthy cell turnover and hydration. They are great for dealing with photoaging, uneven skin tones, and certain forms of skin discoloration. The concentration of AHA peels is anywhere between 10-70% depending on the skincare goal.
  • Salicylic Peel: this is a fat-based peel that is a fantastic choice for individuals who have oily or acneic skin. Not only can it penetrate deep into your skin’s uppermost layers, grabbing a hold of the natural oils that are congesting your skin, but it can help treat 1-2 grades of acne, reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation that comes with acne breakouts. A salicylic peel is also known as a BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid peel, and typically ranges from 20-30 percent in concentration strength.
  • Jessner’s Peel: this is a combination chemical peel treatment that uses lactic acid (14%), salicylic acid (14%), and resorcinol (natural antiseptic – 14%) to remove damaged skin cells in the upper layers of your skin. It is a fantastic treatment for individuals who want to reduce pore appearance, reduce grade 3 acne or acne scarring, effectively reduce melasma and hyperpigmentation, and soften fine line and wrinkles. If a Jessner’s peel concentration is increased, it can be used as a medium-peel treatment.

What Are the Different Types of Chemical Peels?

There are different types of chemical peels to suit different skin types, grouped into three categories according to the strength of the treatment. These categories, listed below, are Superficial, Medium, and Deep.

Superficial or Light Chemical Peel Treatments

The most commonly used chemical peel treatments are classified as superficial or medium. They typically don’t penetrate very deeply, but this also makes them convenient, safe, and perfectly suited to those with sensitive skin.

  • Mini Mélange (Retinoid): this is a retinoid and arbutin based chemical peel that is an effective treatment for superficial or medium-depth melasma in both pregnant and non-childbearing individuals. Whether you have dark spots from pregnancy, or from sun exposure or genetics, the mini mélange can improve your skin’s appearance and texture. It can also even out your skin, lighten your skin tone, remove dead skin cells, and reduce inflammation hotspots.
  • AHA Peel (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): this type of peel is derived from naturally occurring acids found in items like sugar cane (glycolic), apples (malic), grapes (tartaric), other fruits (citric), and fermented milk (lactic). Because of this, AHA peels tend to be one of the mildest forms of chemical peels that you can get, and are given to individuals looking for healthy cell turnover and hydration. They are great for dealing with photoaging, uneven skin tones, and certain forms of skin discoloration. The concentration of AHA peels is anywhere between 10-70% depending on the skincare goal.
  • Salicylic Peel: this is a fat-based peel that is a fantastic choice for individuals who have oily or acneic skin. Not only can it penetrate deep into your skin’s uppermost layers, grabbing a hold of the natural oils that are congesting your skin, but it can help treat 1-2 grades of acne, reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation that comes with acne breakouts. A salicylic peel is also known as a BHA or Beta Hydroxy Acid peel, and typically ranges from 20-30 percent in concentration strength.
  • Jessner’s Peel: this is a combination chemical peel treatment that uses lactic acid (14%), salicylic acid (14%), and resorcinol (natural antiseptic – 14%) to remove damaged skin cells in the upper layers of your skin. It is a fantastic treatment for individuals who want to reduce pore appearance, reduce grade 3 acne or acne scarring, effectively reduce melasma and hyperpigmentation, and soften fine line and wrinkles. If a Jessner’s peel concentration is increased, it can be used as a medium-peel treatment.

Medium Chemical Peel Treatments

For those with slightly more concerning skin problems than a couple of dark spots or the odd touch of acne, a medium strength chemical peel may be prudent. These treatments are performed by board certified dermatologists or plastic surgeons, as they are much more involved than their mild counterparts. However, medium chemical peels come with much more noticeable and longer lasting results.

  • VI Peel (Blended Acid Peel): this type of peel is made up of a combination of medical-grade acids, vitamins, and minerals including trichloroacetic acid (TCA), phenol, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and tretinoin. The acid range is anywhere from 10-12%, while the vitamin C is around the 4% mark, and the tretinoin is 0.1-0.4%. The VI chemical peel is a fantastic choice for those who want to see a considerable change in their skin’s texture, and clarity. It works really well on fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots and discoloration, keratosis pilaris (chicken skin), and grade 3-4 acne. It will brighten up your skin, and stimulate collagen production, while being virtually painless.
  • TCA Peel: the trichloroacetic acid peel is a more aggressive, medium-based chemical peel treatment that works really well on significant aging issues, advanced discoloration or pigment irregularities, and fine lines and wrinkles that are deeply set within the skin. It can help improve the leathery texture you get with severely sun damaged skin. It can also help significantly reduce grade 4 acne and post acne inflammation.

Deep Chemical Peel Treatments

For the most severe skin conditions, there are deep chemical peels. These treatments are only to be performed by a highly trained, board certified specialist, as they carry the highest risk to the patient. They work by entirely removing the epidermis and papillary dermis (the top two layers of your skin), then further penetrate into the reticular dermis (the third layer of skin, where things like hair follicles and sweat glands originate). Although deep chemical peels are risky, they also provide the greatest results, potentially lasting years and even removing budding cancerous growths.

  • Phenol Peels: this is the strongest type of chemical peel treatment you can get, which uses carbolic acid to penetrate into the deepest layers of your skin. While this type of chemical peel treatment can provide a dramatic facial rejuvenation, it is usually only administered by a physician for those with severe photoaging, scarring, and skin abnormalities, as local anesthetic and sedatives are needed during the procedure.

Bonus: Diamond Tone Microdermabrasion

While the Diamond Tone Microdermabrasion treatment is not a chemical peel, it works similarly. This non-surgical procedure gently resurfaces the top layers of your skin with a high-precision, diamond tipped wand. It is great for clearing away debris in your pores, dislodging dead skin cells, and ridding the skin of fine lines, hyperpigmentation, blemishes, enlarged pores, and dullness. This is a good option if you want a light skin exfoliation, but don’t want excessive skin peeling that comes with some chemical peel treatments.

How Effective Are Chemical Peels & How Long Do They Last For?

Chemical peels range in effectiveness as they are highly dependent on your skin type and personal needs. However, you won’t even see results until your skin has fully healed after the treatment is complete, and Superficial treatments may take several treatments in order to achieve the results you want. This is why it’s imperative to determine which peel is best suited to your skin, as that will deliver the best possible results in the least amount of time.

On average, you can expect the results of superficial peels to last for up to 2 months, medium peels for up to 6 months, and deep peels for several years. It is important to note that this does not mean deep peels are always best, as your skin may not be suitable for them. While a dermatologist can help you determine which peel will work best for you, this is simply an approximation of how long the results will last for whichever peel you end up using. Peels help repair the skin and continue to maintain healthy cell turnover. It is important to keep up with regular peels or other skin care treatments in order to sustain your skin care goals.

We offer a comprehensive menu for both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement. Schedule an appointment when you’re ready to rejuvinate your skin and get a fresh start in 2022.

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