Emma Wedgwood

Chemical peels: Everything you need to know and why now is the best time to have one

March 31, 2023

We’re living in a fantastic time for non-surgical therapies. New technology and research mean that exciting, never seen before treatments are emerging that address existing skin conditions and can refresh our skin for improved skin texture and radiance.

But research and access to the latest ingredients is also transforming some of those treatments which we in the industry might consider more traditional. One of the longest established treatments that I offer is the chemical peel.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about chemical peels and why now more than ever is the best time to take the plunge on this tried and tested treatment.

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel involves applying a chemical solution to the surface of the skin to remove the top, dead layer of skin, trigger the body’s natural healing process and reveal new skin underneath.

A chemical peel is great for treating acne or the skin discoloration caused by the breakout known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It will work to improve skin texture and tone for fresher, more radiant skin.

Chemical peels vary in intensity, but in general are relatively pain free with downtime ranging from a couple of days to an entire week.

When was chemical peel developed?

Chemical peels are one of the oldest known skin treatments, with reports of some version of application of topical solution to trigger the wound healing process going back to ancient Egypt (although they tended to use salt, milk, and alabaster).

It was the Romans that isolated acid as the key ingredient, and began using used grapes (tartaric acid), as well as sulphur and even mustard!

But it wasn’t until the 20th century when ingredients such as phenols and AHA’s were discovered for their transformational effects on the skin, with chemical peels becoming a popular aesthetic treatment in the 70s and 80s. And things have definitely moved on since Samantha had her peel ☺

What are the latest developments in chemical peels?

Things have definitely moved on since Samantha from SATC had her peel ☺

Chemical peels are traditionally classified according to the depth of penetration of the skin. The deeper the peel, the deeper the results. A specialist practitioner will advise on the right peel for you.

As chemical peels have developed, new ingredients and new ways of working with peels have emerged which improve their adaptability for different skin conditions and skin types.

Traditional peels often only included one active ingredient such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or phenol, but new peels make use of modern ingredients which are more effective, but less harsh, such as mandelic acid, pyruvic acid and ferulic acid. Combination peels are more common now, which can be created to target specific skin concerns.

Having a course of peels is also a more recent development, with a course of treatment that builds on efficacy and different desired effects over time.

Who can have a chemical peel?

Chemical peels are generally suitable for everyone, as long as it is carried out by a fully trained practitioner who will assess your skin type and colour for suitability before carrying out the treatment.

We wouldn’t carry out a peel on pregnant or nursing women, sunburned / wounded skin, or if you are taking certain medications such as Roaccutane. It is also important to note that some chemical peels on darker skin can carry a higher risk of rebound post inflammatory hyperpigmentation resulting in temporary pigmentary changes. Again, a qualified and experienced practitioner will not perform a peel if it isn’t right for your skin.

What results can you get from a chemical peel?

A chemical peel improves radiance and skin tone, can reduce pigmentation as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles and acne scarring. Results generally grow over time, and a course of several peels will maximise the results.

Chemical peels are a well-established treatment built on a clinically proven process. Having been around for so long, they are very safe (as long as they are carried out by a professional) and can be very effective at rejuvenating the skin in a short time with minimal side effects.

With the development of new formulations and regimes which improve efficacy and reduce the potential for skin damage, skin peels are having a real “moment” and this time of year is the best time to take the plunge too. Skin can be sensitive after a peel, and we recommend that people who have had a peel avoid direct sun exposure. If you book your peel now, your skin will be all set for the amazing summer we’re going to have!

Do get in touch to book your free consultation!

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