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What is a chemical peel?

What is a chemical peel?
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A chemical peel is a cosmetic treatment designed to remove the top layers of skin on the face, revealing fresh skin underneath. The outer layers of your skin are known as ‘keratinised’, which essentially means they are harder and dryer than the fresh skin underneath.

Once these outer layers are dissolved using chemicals, the new skin underneath is revealed, and the complexion is refreshed. A chemical peel is a type of skin resurfacing, which can now also be performed with lasers.

Benefits of chemical peels:

  • Correct blemishes
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Remove pigmentation
  • Correct uneven tone or texture
  • Soften facial acne scars
  • Reduce acne breakouts
  • Reduce redness and blotches
  • Removal of growths

There are several types of peel, generally categorised by how deeply they treat skin layers. The lightest peels, often using fruit acids, are used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce skin dryness, remove pigmentation and help manage acne.

The next sort of peels go deeper, and are used to reduce the appearance of surface wrinkles, blemishes and pigmentation. The strongest peels are used to treat deeper wrinkles, sun-damaged skin, and precancerous growths.

Read more about the different types of chemical peels ENRICH provides

Anaesthetic is not required for most chemical peels, and in expert hands, chemical peels are considered to be safe, effective and budget-friendly alternatives to more expensive laser treatments and cosmetic surgery.

There are some very deep chemical peels that require anaesthesia, however these resurfacing cases are now usually treated using laser resurfacing techniques at ENRICH.

How much does a chemical peel cost?

Prices vary depending on the strength of the peels, and between providers. You can expect to pay in the hundreds for a high-quality peel by an experienced dermatology clinic.

What you should know before a chemical peel

  • Chemical peels are useful for removing the topmost, dull, dry layer of skin
  • Professional peels are much stronger than at-home peels
  • Chemical peels are a non-invasive skin treatment
  • Peels are budget-friendly compared with lasers or wave-based skin resurfacing treatments
  • A peel can quickly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reveals softer, smoother skin underneath
  • Reduces breakouts

Why chemical peels are popular (again)

Chemical peels are seeing a resurgence in popularity due to their effectiveness and price: you can get a lot of bang for your buck. The peel has been largely superseded by lasers, ultrasound, radiofrequency and other devices, but the chemical peel remains a safe, solid anti-ageing and face-brightening tool.

Darker skin tones and chemical peels – the wait is over

There has been a misconception in the past that darker skin tones are risky to perform chemical peels on, however this isn’t true. What remains true is that the person performing the peel must be qualified and experienced in chemical peels on darker skin tones – your practitioner is the key to results.

The issue was revealed to be that doctors were mostly treating light skin tones, and lacked the experience or research subjects to properly treat a diverse group of patients effectively. Darker skin tones do need to be treated with care due to the greater levels of pigmentation present, but an experienced practitioner is well-versed in all skin types.

How does a chemical peel work?

  • The chemicals in a peel dissolve skin cells, so applied in the correct dosage, remove the top layer(s) of skin
  • A chemical peel may be mild or deep, depending on your needs and skin type
  • The strength of a peel refers to how many skin cells it can dissolve during the treatment
  • At ENRICH, doctors perform the most advanced peels

If you’re into science and want more information on chemical peels and how they work, this 2017 scientific review (O’Conner et al) offers some excellent information, including what the Ancient Egyptians were using.

A chemical peel treatment

Your cosmetic practitioner will cleanse your face, removing makeup and oil, then carefully apply the peel mixture to your face. The peel has time to work its magic, and then the application is washed off, you are re-moisturised, given after-care instructions, and sent on your way. At ENRICH Clinic, our speciality nurses often undertake the  glycolic and fruit acid peel procedures whilst our doctors perform the deeper peels.

Warning: stay out of the sun after a peel

Deeper peels may require specialised after-care, but in all cases, staying out of the sun completely or wearing lots of sunscreen is really important, at least for a little while. This is because your protective outer layer of skin is gone, and the fresh new cells underneath are very susceptible to UV damage. UV exposure can result in pigmentation developing.

Protecting yourself physically from the sun includes incidental sun exposure while driving around, even on a cloudy day, steering clear of sunny windows, and avoiding sitting by water, even with a hat on.

Post-inflammatory pigmentation is a real thing, and you can ruin the effect of your chemical peel in no time, giving yourself a new reason to go back to the dermatologist.

What to expect after a chemical peel

  • Some redness and warmth
  • Possible flaking or scaling, depending on the depth of the peel
  • Dry skin
  • With deeper peels, you may experience some swelling
  • Tenderness or tingling
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Once the initial effects wear off, brighter, refreshed skin

Chemical peels are considered an effective cosmetic treatment, and certainly have their place in our arsenal against that pesky top layer of dry, dull skin. Most skin types can tolerate a chemical peel, however not everyone is a suitable candidate. Speak to any one of our cosmetic nurses or doctors for an assessment of your skin to see if you are suitable.

Freshen your complexion!
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