Are you considering getting a chemical peel but are unsure about what peel options are available or what your appointment is going to look like? You’re in luck, Minted Beauties! We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to all things chemical peel. We hope these answers will allow you to seek out the best treatment for you with confidence. Read on for answers to many common questions about chemical peels.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is an exfoliating treatment. During the procedure, your provider will apply a chemical solution to your face, neck, hands, and/or chest. After, your skin will begin to peel, revealing healthy, smooth skin underneath.
This treatment can address many skin concerns, including scarring and signs of aging. There are different types of chemical peels available, so you and your provider can determine the best peel for you based on your needs.
What kinds of chemical peels are there?
Your provider may use different ingredients in your peel depending on your skin concerns. Alpha-hydroxy (AHA), glycolic, lactic, or fruit acid peels are often ingredients found in gentle peels. Trichloroacetic acid is a stronger option for addressing wrinkles, for example.
Salicylic acid, mandelic acid, retinoic acid, phytic acid, resorcinol, and hydroquinone are other common ingredients. Carbolic acid (also known as phenol) is the powerful chemical peel ingredient, only used to induce intense peeling for serious skin problems.
While your provider may choose from a variety of ingredients, chemical peels are often classified by their intensity:
- Light (or superficial) chemical peels exfoliate lightly by removing the top layer of your skin, the epidermis. This treatment can improve fine lines, skin tone, discoloration from acne, and dryness.
- Medium chemical peels exfoliate more deeply by removing both the epidermis and the top layer of the dermis underneath. This treatment is applied for wrinkles, acne scars, and uneven skin tone.
- Deep chemical peels are powerful treatments that remove the epidermis and upper and middle layers of the dermis. Usually they are used only to treat deep wrinkles, scarring, and precancerous skin patches. (Please note that we do not offer Deep Chemical Peels at Mint & Needle.)
What are the benefits of a chemical peel?
Since chemical peels remove older skin cells, allowing newer, collagen-rich cells to take their place, chemical peels can be used to treat a variety of skin concerns. Benefits include:
- Treating acne, since the peel removes build-up of dead skin cells that can lead to acne in the first place.
- Improving the appearance of rosacea, since the peel removes the irritated outer layer of the skin.
- Improving the appearance of scars, including acne scars, since the peel promotes rapid skin cell turnover.
- Improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for the same reason.
- Minimizing pores, since removing dead cells can make pores look smaller.
- Balancing texture and dryness, since the inner layers of the skin the peel surfaces are more smooth.
- Improving dull or uneven skin tone, since the peel removes damage from sunspots, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation from the outer layers of the skin.
A chemical peel can be a great option for you if you’re looking for a non-invasive treatment, since it does not require the use of needles or surgical tools.
Am I a good candidate for a chemical peel?
Chemical peels can be effective treatments for many people. If your skin is generally healthy and your skin concerns are not severe, chemical peels are a good choice. Chemical peels also work best for those with a lighter complexion, but darker pigmented skin can also be treated under the care of a trained provider, which you can find at Mint & Needle.
There are several factors that may suggest a different treatment is right for you. Chemical peels should not be used for those with sagging skin, very deep wrinkles, and comprehensive scars. Those with darker complexions may have heard to avoid chemical peels, but a skilled provider knows which acids to use and how to prep the skin so that hyperpigmentation doesn’t occur.
Certain medical conditions may increase the risk of complications with chemical peels. Those with a compromised immune system should avoid chemical peels, as should those who have undergone radiation therapy, have recently had surgery, abnormal skin scarring, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those who have taken an oral accutane treatment within the past six months, should also avoid chemical peels.
When is the best time to get a chemical peel?
You may request a chemical peel at any time of the year, but because the peel increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, the best time to get a chemical peel is in the winter or spring! Timing your peel this way will ensure you’re safe from heat and UV damage while your skin is healing. Plus, your peel will help treat winter dryness by surfacing new, hydrated layers of skin.
How do I prepare for an appointment?
Preparing for your appointment starts when you select the right chemical peel for you, based on your skin type, age, skin color, and skin conditions. Your provider will help you decide.
It’s also important to think about the timing of your appointment. Do you have something important coming up? Will you have enough time to heal before you need to be photoshoot-ready? Recovery times vary depending on the intensity of your peel (find out more about that under “What is the recovery process like?”), so schedule your peel accordingly.
You can also do a few things before your appointment in order to get the most out of your peel:
- Don’t exfoliate for at least a week prior, including with masks and scrubs. Watch out for chemically exfoliating ingredients that may be in your everyday skincare products.
- Stop using anti-aging or anti-acne medications, since these could affect how your skin responds to the peel.
- Stop using products that might dry out your skin, such as soaps that contain sulfates.
- Avoid sun exposure, which might lead to irregular pigmentation after treatment.
- Avoid hair removal, straightening, and bleaching/dying treatments for at least a week prior, including shaving.
- On the day of, drink lots of water.
Depending on your needs and your specific peel, before your appointment, you may also need to:
- Use a retinoid cream to help with the healing process.
- Take antiviral medication to prevent infection.
- Use a bleaching agent, such as hydroquinone, to reduce the risk of adverse effects.
What does a typical appointment look like?
When you arrive at your appointment, your provider will clean the area to be treated. If this is your face, you’ll receive ointment or goggles to protect your eyes.
For the procedure, you will lie face-up if you are having your face treated. Your provider will gently apply your treatment to your skin and leave it in place for a certain amount of time.
Your treatment should take no longer than thirty minutes.
Do chemical peels hurt?
Light chemical peels are generally pain-free. When the treatment is applied to the skin, you might expect to experience light tingling, a hot or cold sensation, or a feeling of tightening of the skin.
Since medium peels are slightly more powerful, your clinician will provide you with a cool compress to help ease stinging and swelling following the treatment.
What is the recovery process like, and how long will my skin take to heal?
Once you have received your treatment, your skin will begin to peel. Usually this begins several days following your appointment. Light chemical peels will result in several days of peeling, though the exact timing will depend on your skin’s unique characteristics. Your skin will be more sensitive during this time.
Light peels will involve one to seven days of recovery, but you can generally return to using skincare products and makeup the day after your appointment.
Medium peels will involve 5 to 14 days of recovery, and you can generally use products and makeup after 5 to 7 days. You may develop some redness lasting up to a couple months.
How do I get optimal results following my appointment?
After your appointment, it’s a good idea to use a lotion, ointment, cream, or hydrating gel while your skin recovers. Also, steer clear of hot water and use only mild cleansers, such as our Gentle Cleanser.
You’ll also want to apply sunscreen every day and avoid long periods of time in the sun, since your skin will be extra sensitive to heat and UV rays. We highly recommend using one of our high-quality SPF products to protect your skin.
Finally, be sure to avoid picking, rubbing, or scratching your skin, as this could lead to scarring. While your skin is peeling, allow it to resurface naturally.
How long do results last?
Results will depend on the kind of peel you receive. Results from light peels last about one to two months, while results from medium peels last two to six months. You may receive a series of treatments for optimal results.
How can I book my appointment?
You can book your treatment right here at Mint & Needle. Check out our Medical Grade Chemical Peels page for more information and scheduling. Have any other remaining questions? Then reach out to us! Give us a call during business hours or send us a message through our Contact Us page.