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What to know before getting a chemical peel

Chemical peels are used to improve the appearance of skin by removing damaged layers. There are many types of chemical peels, with each type providing a different benefit. A superficial peel removes only the top layer of dead skin cells, which results in smoother, brighter skin. A medium-depth peel removes all layers from the surface down to the middle of the dermis (the second layer), and can help smooth fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring, and age spots. A deep chemical peel removes all layers from the surface down to the deepest layer of skin (the reticular dermis). This will give you new skin that looks younger than your chronological age.

Chemical peels can be performed at an aesthetician’s office or at home. The most common at-home option is alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). At-home AHA peels can be completed in as little as five minutes per day for up to two weeks. Many patients find that this is more convenient than going into an office on a daily basis for chemical peels.

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on What to know before getting a chemical peel, chemical peel at home for hyperpigmentation. Read on to learn more. We at cosmeticsurgerytips have all the information that you need about at home chemical peel vs professional. Read on to learn more.

What to know before getting a chemical peel

chemical peel need to know

A chemical peel for the face is a procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove damaged skin cells, treat wrinkles and correct scars and sunspot discolorations.

Chemical peels contain different types of acids that have varying depths of skin penetration. There are many options depending on your needs and how sensitive your skin is.

What do you need to do to prepare for a chemical peel?

After choosing a reputable board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist, the first step is to schedule a pre-procedure consultation to discuss your reasons for wanting a chemical peel and the expectations of treatment. Your health history and medications will be reviewed to ensure you are a suitable candidate for the procedure.

This review includes screening for a history of diabetes, nutritional deficiency, photosensitivity, abnormal scarring, prior radiation, recent facial surgery, skin conditions, use of isotretinoin or oral contraceptives, smoking status, pregnancy status and amount of daily sun exposure – these factors can increase the risk of complications.

Next, a physical exam of the skin is performed to assess skin thickness, health and condition. Photographs may be taken to document the pre-procedure skin condition.

During the 2-4 weeks before your scheduled chemical peel, there are a set of preparation activities performed to optimize the efficacy of treatment, called “priming.” UV exposure should be limited, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50+ should be applied every morning. Certain creams containing tretinoin, hydroquinone, glycolic acid or salicylic acid may be prescribed.

Lastly, waxing and dermabrasion of the face should be avoided. The goal of these activities and recommendations is to thin the top layer of the skin, enhance penetration of the chemical peel, accelerate healing and reduce the risk of complications such as hyperpigmentation and scarring.

The day prior to your procedure, the face should be washed with non-residue soap. Moisturizers and make-up should be avoided.

What should you expect during the procedure?

Chemical peeling is done in a dedicated office room with appropriate lighting and ventilation. You will be lying down in a supine position, and your eyes will be closed for the procedure with appropriate eye protection.

A neutral paste may be applied in areas around your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the chemical peeling solution from pooling in those areas. For deeper peels, a relaxing or pain medicine may be given right before the procedure.

The application method may be different depending on the chosen peeling agent. Liquid solutions may be applied using a brush, cotton tip applicator, or gauze swab. For gels, usually, a wooden or plastic spatula is used. The peeling agent is first applied to areas with thicker skin, such as the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. It is then spread to the other areas of the face using firm, even strokes in the same direction.

You may feel some mild tenderness while the chemical peel is on your skin. Upon completion of the procedure, a neutralizing wash or cool compress may be used on the face.

Post-procedure experience

After a chemical peel, your skin will be likely red and appear irritated. Deeper chemical peels may result in increased redness and swelling. It is also normal to feel some continued burning or stinging. A protective ointment such as petroleum jelly can be applied to soothe the area, and symptoms should begin to resolve within one to two weeks.

Makeup can usually be worn the next day for light peels, and after a week for medium peels. It may take a few months for the skin to fully return to normal and show complete results of the peel. Recommendations such as routine cleansing, moisturizing and sun exposure minimization will help prolong the results of the chemical peel.

Chemical peels are a quick, safe and cost-effective method for skin rejuvenation. Successful chemical peeling is dependent on the proper matching of a patient’s motivation for the procedure and the appropriate peeling agent. Your physician can go over the risks and benefits to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Chemical peel at home for hyperpigmentation

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If you’ve ever been hesitant to reach for a chemical exfoliant to help fade unwanted hyperpigmentation, there’s a good reason. “In general, chemical peels are intentionally irritating and not essential to balanced skin, unless indicated otherwise by a board-certified dermatologist for things like acne vulgaris or melasma,” dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur tells Elite Daily, adding, “Self-directed treatment is rife with overdoing it.” When needed, the best at-home chemical peels for hyperpigmentation contain a lower concentration of chemical exfoliants to lessen the chance of irritation. “If you’ve ever experienced hyperpigmentation, as I have in my 20s from patches of melasma on my upper lip and face, you want to do anything bionic to remove it,” Dr. Marmur says of her own experience. “But slow and steady is the only way to conquer hyperpigmentation, so be patient,” she advises, while stressing the importance of checking in with your dermatologist before using any at-home chemical exfoliants.

In addition to taking things slow and consulting with a professional, Dr. Marmur advises that it’s best not to exceed a concentration of 5% of the active ingredient in question. “Mandelic acid and tranexamic acid tend to be slow and steady for hyperpigmentation treatment at home, along with proper sun protection and LED green light,” shares Dr. Marmur. She also adds that other AHAs and BHAs, like glycolic acid and salicylic acid, are popular when it comes to at-home chemical treatments for hyperpigmentation.

As for the delivery method, Dr. Marmur confirms that mechanical exfoliants, like scrubs, should be avoided because they can worsen hyperpigmentation. “Liquids and serums applied and massaged into the skin with your fingertips work much better than pads, which increase waste,” she adds. “Never brush, scrub, or rub chemical exfoliants on skin that’s prone to excess pigment because this will backfire and put you back at square one,” she stresses. “Baby your skin, protect it well, and let your derm help you in your journey against hyperpigmentation.”

Keep scrolling to shop five of the best at-home treatments for hyperpigmentation, from serums to cleansers to face masks.

1. Best Tranexamic Acid Serum For Hyperpigmentation

Naturium Tranexamic Topical Acid 5%

AMAZON

Naturium Tranexamic Topical Acid 5%

$20SEE ON AMAZON

Tranexamic acid is typically a well-tolerated ingredient when it comes to fading unwanted hyperpigmentation and preventing new dark spots from forming. Naturium’s Tranexamic Topical Acid 5% gives you a potent concentration of the active ingredient, while other effective brightening ingredients like kojic acid, licorice root extract, and niacinamide bolster the acid’s skin-evening effects. This combination makes it one of the best hyperpigmentation treatments you can buy for $20 — while plenty of hydrating ingredients like glycerin, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid prevent it from drying out your skin.

2. Best AHA Serum For Hyperpigmentation

Honest Beauty Resurfacing Serum

AMAZON

Honest Beauty Resurfacing Serum

$23SEE ON AMAZON

Honest Beauty’s Resurfacing Serum combines three AHAs to target unwanted hyperpigmentation: Glycolic, lactic, and citric acids. Additional ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe leaf juice all work to soothe and hydrate skin, while niacinamide offers double the skin care benefits by helping to treat hyperpigmentation and calm inflammation. At less than $25, it’s a great entry point into the world of chemical exfoliants. For best results, use it at night and don’t forget to apply sunscreen the next morning (as is the case with any AHA product).

3. Best BHA Exfoliant For Hyperpigmentation

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

AMAZON

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

$32SEE ON AMAZON

Among the 40,000-plus five-star ratings on Amazon, you’ll find dozens of reviews that specifically mention how helpful Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is when it comes to treating hyperpigmentation. The tried-and-true formula uses a 2% concentration of salicylic acid to clear out congested pores and exfoliate dead skin cells, while green tea extract soothes and provides antioxidant protection. Because of salicylic acid’s pore-clearing benefits, this is a great choice if your primary skin concerns are hyperpigmentation and acne or blackheads.

Though it doesn’t have nearly as many Amazon reviews, the brand’s Discoloration Repair Serum, which features tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and bakuchiol extract, is another solid pick for treating hyperpigmentation.

4. Best Exfoliating Mask For Hyperpigmentation

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask

AMAZON

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask

$49SEE ON AMAZON

If you like to use the occasional skin-pampering mask, Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask gives you a powerful chemical treatment in just 10 minutes. AHAs in the form of malic, glycolic, and lactic acids combine with the BHA salicylic acid to slough away dead skin cells and even out your skin. Bakuchiol and vitamin C give you more skin-brightening benefits, and aloe leaf juice, grape seed extract, and glycerin help with hydration. Though the mask is formulated with mostly naturally derived ingredients (many of which are organic), it still has the potential to cause irritation. Because of this, the brand suggests doing a patch test on your arm before putting the mask on your face.

5. Best Splurge

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment

AMAZON

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment

$85SEE ON AMAZON

This multi-purpose treatment can be used as a leave-on serum morning or night, or as a 15-minute mask that you rinse off if your skin is hyper-sensitive. Sunday Riley’s Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment is a cult favorite for its ability to improve the clarity and texture of your skin, while still being pretty gentle. In addition to the AHA lactic acid, licorice root extract works to brighten skin and fade unwanted hyperpigmentation, while soothing and hydrating ingredients like squalane, arnica, aloe leaf, and prickly pear keep the formula balanced. It offers both immediate and long-term benefits, and has a lightweight texture that layers under other products beautifully.

You May Also Like

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser

AMAZON

Dermalogica Daily Glycolic Cleanser

$35SEE ON AMAZON

Though not exactly a peel, a cleanser with chemical exfoliants, like Dermalogica’s Daily Glycolic Cleanser, is a great place to start because the active ingredient gets rinsed right off (as opposed to treatments and serums that are left on and therefore pose a higher risk of irritation). This cleanser uses glycolic acid to exfoliate away dead skin cells, the buildup of which can contribute to hyperpigmentation. You’ll also find jojoba seed oil, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, calendula, and allantoin in here to help condition skin and calm any signs of irritation.

At home chemical peel vs professional

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Dullness. Dark spots. Acne scars. Fine lines and wrinkles. What do all of these skin concerns have in common? They can be treated with medical-grade chemical peels. Depending on your aesthetic goals and needs, chemical peels are available in an array of potencies and have the ability to resurface the skin for more even tone and texture. For those looking to achieve glow-inducing results at-home, less concentrated chemical exfoliators can slough away dead skin cells for a more radiant complexion. Here, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about in-office chemical peels and at-home chemical exfoliators.

What Is a Chemical Peel?

Professional chemical peels employ chemical solutions of varying strengths to target and remove the outer layers of the skin. “The benefits of a medical-grade chemical peel are endless,” says Lizette Ludwig, RN, an aesthetic nurse and injector in southern California. As she explains, they are a good option for anyone looking to address skin imperfections. “Chemical peels allow you to remove dead skin cells and address fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone in a safe and effective way,” she shares.

Professional chemical peels can be broken down into three categories:

  1. Superficial chemical peels
  2. Medium chemical peels
  3. Deep chemical peels

These classifications are based on the potency of the peels and the ingredients used in the chemical solution. “Ingredients found in medical-grade peels usually include alpha hydroxy acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid), beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and phenol,” Ludwig says. Below is an overview of each:

SUPERFICIAL CHEMICAL PEELS

The lightest and gentlest of the group, superficial chemical peels remove the epidermis (i.e. top layer of the skin) and are generally tolerated by most skin tones. “These peels are usually made from alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids, but they can also include enzymes or other natural exfoliating ingredients,” Ludwig notes. Because they focus on the epidermis, superficial peels provide a slight improvement to the skin and usually require a series of treatments for best results. Some mild dryness and flaking are a part of the healing process and can last for three to five days.

MEDIUM CHEMICAL PEELS

Falling in the middle of the scale, medium-depth chemical peels produce a more dramatic result in a single treatment than light peels. “Skin will be significantly smoother with an even tone and blemishes removed,” Ludwig says. This type of peel usually contains trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to penetrate the skin and remove layers below the epidermis. Peeling, redness, and swelling are all to be expected post-peel and can last three to 10 days.

DEEP CHEMICAL PEELS

Needless to say, deep chemical peels are the strongest and most invasive. They usually involve a potent formulation of TCA or phenol that can penetrate the deep layer of the dermis. As Ludwig shares, the depth allows them to produce “drastically smoother” and “youthful-looking” skin. “Deep peels can achieve amazing results for sun damage, scarring, and wrinkles,” she says. Due to their strength, however, deep peels can be painful and healing requires patience. Several weeks of downtime is needed, and full recovery could take weeks or months.

Professional Chemical Peel Treatments

Medical-grade chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the face and (possibly) neck. The chemical solution is either applied lightly or rubbed more vigorously onto the skin using a gauze pad. During the application, you may experience a slight tingling (superficial to medium peels) or burning (deep peels). “I like to give my clients a mini fan which helps the tingling or burning sensation,” Ludwig shares. With certain types of chemical peels, the solution may need to be ‘neutralized’ after the appropriate time has elapsed, though most chemicals neutralize on their own.

Regardless of what strength peel you choose, patients are usually sent home with post-care instructions. “Make sure to discuss with your provider how to care for your skin after the peel,” Ludwig says. Even for the lightest peel, you’ll likely need to make changes to your skincare routine for a few days pre- and post-treatment. If you’re planning on a medium or deep peel, antiviral medication may be prescribed beforehand.

CHEMICAL PEEL SAFETY

Professional chemical peels are meant to be performed in a doctor’s office or a medical spa by a licensed skincare professional. As we’ve reported, the DIY dermatology trend that’s fueled by social media and social distancing had led some to try medical-grade treatments (like TCA peels) at home with dangerous and damaging results. “Beware of chemical solutions sold online, as they are usually sold illegally and can cause permanent damage to your skin,” Ludwig warns. “Chemical peels should be applied by a licensed professional.”

Professional Chemical Peels vs. At-Home Chemical Exfoliators

The main difference between a superficial in-office peel and chemical exfoliators or treatments you can find at, say Sephora, is that at-home solutions do not provide the same chemical concentration as their professional counterparts. While similar active ingredients may be found in both versions, the potency is quite different. As Ludwig explains, at-home percentages of glycolic acid, for example, max out around 10 percent, while medical-grade glycolic acids (applied by a professional) can reach as high as 70 percent.

At-Home Chemical Exfoliators

If you’re dealing with mild cases of uneven skin tone and texture or wish to maintain your complexion in between in-office appointments, at-home chemical exfoliators and enzyme treatments can impart a subtle and sustained glow with regular use.

When it comes to choosing a treatment, Ludwig suggests reading the label closely. “I recommend looking for brightening ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, vitamin C, and active enzymes such as pumpkin, papaya, and pineapple,” she explains. “Every ingredient serves a purpose, so do your homework when it comes to the ingredient list.”

CHEMICAL EXFOLIATOR SAFETY & RESULTS

While your skin likely won’t peel or flake the way it will after a professional treatment, irritation is possible with at-home exfoliating products. “Read all instructions carefully when it comes to at-home peels,” Ludwig cautions. “Most will ask you to wash it off after 10 to 15 minutes of application and gradually build up to leaving it on overnight.”

Another way to ensure your skin ends up radiant, not ruddy? “I recommend skipping out on ingredients like retinol and other active serums on days you choose to exfoliate at home,” Ludwig shares. She suggests exfoliating one to two times per week and alternating days with any actives already in your routine. “Less is more, in my opinion,” she says. “Over-exfoliating can disrupt our skin’s microbiome.”

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