Chemical peeling is not a new concept. Since the days of ancient Egypt, people have looked to chemical substances to rejuvenate the skin. The original chemical exfoliants were natural acids: During ancient spa days, nobles created beauty treatments from lactic acid (found in sour milk) or tartaric acid in red wine. According to legend, Cleopatra even bathed in sour milk to brighten her complexion.
Modern-day chemical peels utilize a variety of peeling agents—acids derived from natural sources, such as salicylic, glycolic or other alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) along with synthetic acids/agents like TCA (trichloroacetic acid) or resorcinol. Using different strengths of these agents helps target different layers of the skin, allowing practitioners to address a broad range of skin concerns.
Cellular turnover slows as we age, and chemical peels aim to accelerate this process. Interestingly, the skin needs to be injured in order to rejuvenate itself. Following “trauma” to the skin during a chemical peel, the natural healing process begins, ultimately leading to a decrease in the appearance of sun damage and helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Chemical peels are divided into several categories based on their degree of intensity. The stronger the acids used in a peel, the more injury to the skin occurs. Though they are capable of producing the most skin rejuvenation, deep peels necessitate longer recovery periods and carry a greater risk of complications.
Most superficial peels require several treatments to achieve noticeable results. In fact, a regular series of superficial peels can produce cumulative benefits with little risk. Minimally invasive peels like SkinMedica® Vitalize Peel® and Rejuvenize Peel™ give the skin an improved appearance with more uniform color and smoother texture, and have a short healing period of just a few days. Although it produces minimal skin exfoliation, a very superficial chemical peel like SkinMedica Illuminize Peel® instantly enhances the skin’s appearance and delivers a refreshed, healthy and more youthful look with no downtime.
Each type of chemical peel addresses a different degree of skin damage from mild skin imperfections to severe concerns, including the appearance of photo-damage, pigmentation, melasma, and acne scarring. The skincare specialist or physician will select the most appropriate chemical peel based on an assessment of the patient’s skin.
It is important to remember that the success of any peel depends upon the patient following all post-procedure instructions, including sun avoidance and the use of proper post-peel products.