Chemical Exfoliation: (Not as Scary as it Sounds) By: Raegan Justice
I know how it sounds. Chemicals on your skin, that seems scary. As an esthetician, I was even scared before I knew about them. However, then I actually learned about chemical peels and really practiced how to do them correctly and carefully. Trust me, it is not as scary as it sounds. Let me tell you why!
What is Chemical Exfoliation?
Chemical Exfoliation (chemical peels) are a way of exfoliating the outermost layer of skin (the stratum corneum) by using an acid based solution. It works by breaking down the bonds that hold the skin tissue together and as those bonds are broken, the top layers of the skin cells shed, revealing regenerated skin.
What is pH and Why Does it Matter?
pH stands for “Potential Hydrogen” a measure of how acidic/basic a solution is. The range goes from 0 - 14, with 7 being neutral. pHs of less than 7 indicate acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base.
The average pH of the skin is between 4.5-5.5 pH. Which makes the skin acidic. The acid in a chemical peel needs to have a pH lower than the skin’s pH to be effective.
Different Types of Peels and Depths:
Very Superficial: Penetrates the Stratum Corneum. Removes outer layer with light exfoliant and no down time. Here at Coastal Massage and Wellness we like to use Skin Scripts Enzymes. They are very superficial chemical exfoliation. The Raspberry Peach for anti-aging and anti- inflammatory benefits, or the Lemon Zest Enzyme for brightening and antioxidants.
Superficial: Penetrates the stratum granulosum. Removes the outer layer, can experience some flaking skin and with 1-3 days downtime. We like to use the Lactic Action 30 by Glymed to help with brightening the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and reducing pigmentation.
Medium: Penetrates all layers of the epidermis. Great exfoliation with a lot of noticeable peeling and 7-14 days of downtime. A great example of what medium depth peels we like to use is the 5 Berry Pigment Control Peel by Glymed. This peel brightens and tightens, it helps with pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.
Benefits of Chemical Exfoliation:
Chemical exfoliation and peels can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, strengthen skin, and keep it active and youthful. It can also lessen the appearance of texture and scarring, and help care for most acne, as well as reduce age spots, melasma, and PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
What to Expect During an Appointment:
Some things to expect during the chemical procedure are common activities during application such as: itching, tingling, heat, flushing, swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity. Let your esthetician know how your skin is feeling. Your esthetician is there to help you get your skin goals achieved as well as making sure you are comfortable.
Depending on the peel you could experience some frosting. Frosting is a white layer that appears on the skin that lets you know when peel has reached the level of penetration and clinical end point. This informes the esthetician that the area should not be gone over again. You are also more likely to peel more in the area(s) that you frost in. (Example of Frosting in Picture 2 Circled in Blue)
Aftercare of Chemical Exfoliation:
Some good pointers for aftercare include avoiding excessive sun exposure, and to wear and reapply sunscreen. Do not pick, rub, or unnecessarily touch your face. Make sure to keep the skin moisturized. If you use a retinol regularly, avoid using it for about 7-10 days and then continue to use it regularly.