You want beautiful skin. Really, who doesn’t? After all, skin is your first impression to the world – it tells people your story, including how healthy, vibrant, and well you are at just a glance. That’s why thousands of Americans turn to medical spas every single year for advanced skin treatments.
Now, there’s a very old treatment making a significant comeback: chemical peels. These topically-delivered treatments strip back the first layer of dull, dead, and dying skin cells, revealing fresh, healthy new skin with faster regeneration.
But what exactly makes chemical peels so special – could they be the secret cure to your most pressing skincare problems? Let’s take a look of the science and explore how they help.
ELIMINATES ACNE (AND SCARRING)
Struggling with acne? Whether you’re 22 or 52, dealing with acne outside of your teen years can feel a bit like a cruel joke. Everyone tells you you’re supposed to outgrow it, or that diet will fix it; these strategies help, but some patients just seem particularly prone to adult acne.
Acne-specific peels contain lactic acid, salicylic acid, and resorcinol, three science-backed ingredients used by doctors to treat problem acne. They work together to:
Research also shows that chemical peels with salicylic acid produce better results over time than laser, which can spur on more breakouts.
But there’s an additional benefit: a reduction in the appearance of acne scars. Even if your breakouts resolve, having a chemical peel on a regular schedule may reduce the appearance of scars and pitting because it encourages faster skin regeneration.
REDUCES UNDER-EYE BAGS AND DISCOLORATION
Dark under-eye circles aren’t just a symptom of too many late nights; they can be genetic, confounding even the best of patients. Hereditary dark circles are more common in specific populations, including people with extremely fair skin and redheads, because the skin is more translucent in the first place. Age-related sagging, swelling, and inflammation can also be genetic, and often exacerbates dark circles, making them even worse.
If you’ve tried every trick in the book, or are tired of masking those dark circles with makeup, take heart: chemical peels may reduce their appearance over time.
Now, here’s the catch: medical aestheticians must use very specific chemical peels designed for the under-eye area for both safety and efficacy reasons. The most common formulas contain a mixture of deep-penetrating acids with Vitamin C and lighteners in a non-drippy gel that absorbs rapidly. This format is preferred because it prevents accidental intrusion on sensitive eye tissues.
Note that it is critical to have a qualified skincare expert apply chemical peels, especially in the under-eye area or around the eyes and eyebrows. Never attempt to apply these formulas at home on your own. They’re safe when used correctly in the right setting, but their powerful ingredients can injure the eye if misused.
“Melasma,” a condition where grey or dark brown spots appear on the face, can be extremely frustrating for patients. Linked to hormone imbalance, it is far more common in women, especially in pregnancy or in the presence of thyroid disorders and Diabetes. Birth control pills, hormone-containing IUDs, and rings, and hormone supplementation therapy can also trigger melasma, as can certain genetic factors.
Chemical peels won’t cure melasma; there is no real “cure” available. But they can reduce the appearance of spots and darker zones to make your skin appear brighter, fresher, and less uneven. Most patients notice results in just a single session, but some may require multiple sessions to achieve their desired look.
If you have persistent melasma, or very visible melasma, you may benefit most from quarterly scheduled chemical peels. Scheduling your peels this often (or even more often, if your skin recovers well) lets you stay on top of melasma, preventing dark spots from building up all over again.
REDUCES FINE LINES AND WRINKLES
Most people think of chemical peels as a solution for acne, scarring, and discoloration, but peels also have the power to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The top layer of skin cells is also the oldest, meaning it will appear duller and more lax than newer rejuvenated skin deeper in the dermis. Older skin cells show their age more readily, and have poorer elasticity, making fine lines and wrinkles appear more obvious.
Peels work by stripping back the first few layers of old, dead skin cells. They reveal brighter, smoother regenerated skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles, while also delivering critical antioxidants that encourage skin wellness over time. This may reduce the appearance of current fine lines as well as prevent new lines from forming.
Patients with deep grooves, marionette lines, frown lines, and crow’s feet may benefit most from a combined peel plus injections therapy schedule. Dermal fillers resolve the most obvious lines; chemical peels resolve the rest and act as a preventative. You look more youthful and ready to take on the world well into the future.
MAKES COSMETICS MORE EFFECTIVE
Chemical peels may also improve how well your morning moisturizer and daily cosmetics work and how they appear on your face. That’s because the right peel triggers more collagen production and the production of hyaluronic acid, resulting in smoother, more even skin with less inflammation and/or dry and oily zones. It rebalances the skin, making it healthier and better able to function.
Newer, younger skin cells absorb skin care treatments better, producing better results from the very same treatments you use every single day. It is common for patients to come in complaining that their skin care regimen is failing; once they have their first peel, their favorite products start working once again. This includes brighteners, lighteners, moisturizers, acne treatments, and wrinkle creams.
Cosmetics also apply more evenly to newer skin; you may see better results from your foundation, blush, concealer, or even eyeshadow after just one or two chemical peels. Better coverage with less makeup creates a more natural look while still helping you appear healthy, beautiful, and well.
Some patients see such dramatic results from their cosmetics that they stop needing full-coverage foundations at all. Instead, their skin glows with an even, bright appearance naturally, necessitating just a touch of tinted moisturizer to look their best.