3 Things to Know Before Choosing a Chemical Peel

Written by Avery Samuels, Reviewed by Dr. Justin Harper, MD

For most of us, the thought of bathing our face in acid seems a little scary, if not completely crazy.

To get acquainted with the idea, here are three things you should know if you’re considering your first chemical peel:

1. For the most part, chemical peels only penetrate the most superficial layer of your skin.
This layer of your skin, called the epidermis, is composed primarily of dead skin cells that slough off naturally through cellular turnover and gentle exfoliation. Some skincare products aim to achieve brighter, more supple skin by accelerating the rate of cellular turnover. Others, like chemical peels, enhance this process by creating deeper and more rapid exfoliation.

2. Discoloration is often the result of pigment irregularities in your top layer of skin.
Medium depth peels, such as 15-35% TCA (trichloroacetic acid), are a great option if you’re hoping to lighten age spots, melasma, sun-damaged skin, and freckles. However, it is important to have an experienced medical professional administer peels to accurately discern cosmetic issues (like sun spots) from more ominous discolorations (like skin cancer).

3. If you’re already getting Botox injections to decrease the appearance of wrinkles, a deeper chemical peel can enhance the neurotoxin’s wrinkle smoothing effects.
Although these peels require a longer recovery time and create peeling similar to the kind you would get after a severe sun burn, they can significantly improve facial lines and wrinkles and produce beautiful results.

If you aren’t prepared to peel like a snake in the name of beauty, Glycolic Acid Peels, the lightest type of peel, encourage cellular regeneration with little to no downtime. This light peel can be hugely beneficial for those with chronic dry skin, dull skin, or recurring acne breakouts because of its ability to stimulate elastin and collagen production.

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