It seems that most of us want flawless skin. This is why we buff, rub, scrub and polish each day. The human body is truly amazing – it regenerates and renews its cells completely every few years, but what if there was some way to speed up the process? Well, there may just be, at least for the skin.
Skin peels are becoming a more frequent part of beauty regimens the world over and, if like us, you’re wondering just how exactly a skin peel works (and if it’s safe), don’t fret! We asked product specialist Karen Bester from Lamelle Research Laboratories to walk us through the basics.
How does a skin peel work?
Basically, a skin peel is a skin resurfacing procedure. ‘Chemical peels, or chemical exfoliation treatments, are designed to increase shedding of the top layer of your skin – while also stimulating new cell production,’says Karen. ‘Peels can be used to treat dull, devitalised skin which starts to show signs of ageing. They are effective in treating congestion associated with acne. They can also be used to treat pigmented areas and improve skin texture.’
Types of peels
The type of peel most suitable for your skin will depend on your skin type and on the bugbear you are trying to fix, so it goes without saying that consultation with a professional is recommended for peels even when you are going the DIY route. ‘Your skincare therapist or doctor will select a treatment solution that will best remedy the challenges you are facing with your skin to give you the best results,’ says Karen.
There are, broadly speaking, three types of skin peels:
1. Superficial or light peel – this one penetrates the outer most layer of skin called the epidermis. It is the mildest form of skin peel and will most often be used to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of acne.
2. Medium – this type of peel is used to treat the same skin problems as the light peel, but this one removes dead skin cells from the epidermis as well as a deeper level of skin known as the dermis.
3. Deep – this kind of peel will need to be administered by a doctor. It penetrates the mid-to-lower levels of the skin and is used to treat very deep wrinkles and scars.
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Which brings us to the burning question: Does it hurt?
According to Karen, most skincare units will offer a range of peels. ‘Some will cause very little discomfort – with many options where the only post-peel indicator is light flaking, while some might also offer “face fall off” treatments. Discuss your options and be clear about what you’ll experience and how long it will last.’
Make sure you are properly prepped beforehand:
1. Stop all topically applied prescription creams containing vitamin A for three days before and three days after your treatment, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
2. Use a broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen daily before, during and after your treatment. We love the Coverderm Filteray Face Plus 2-in-one sunscreen and after sun care.
3. Make sure you are using a well-formulated skincare range that’s going to maintain your healthy skin barrier.
And avoid these after…
Because the topmost layer of your skin is removed during the procedure, you can be left feeling a little exposed and vulnerable afterwards. To make you feel just a little more protected after your skin peel, it may be best to avoid the following:
- Sun exposure: It is unlikely that any downtime will be required after a light or medium peel but its best to avoid a stroll outside immediately after.
- Exfoliators because your skin needs time to heal itself and needs time to form something of a biological band-aid until it replaces itself.
- Vitamin A and Alpha Hydroxy Acid (check product labels carefully!)
- Travel, especially if it involves flying for an extended period of time.
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Need-to-know advice for darker skin tones…
Many women believe that skin peels are more suitable for people with fair skin and lighter hair colours, so we asked Karen to share her opinion on the effectiveness of skin peels for people with darker skin tones:
‘When used on darker skin tones, and when done incorrectly, more aggressive peels can cause either overproduction or underproduction of pigmentation in the skin,’ she warns. ‘To prevent this, it’s important to listen to your skincare therapist and do exactly as he or she tells you to do.’
Karen’s list of what to avoid for darker skin tones:
- Do not pick the skin or use exfoliators
- If you are doing a peel that may involve some flaking or downtime, ensure that that you use a barrier supporting product as prescribed. Dry skin does not heal faster.
- Use your sunscreen daily.
- Use melanocyte calming products prior, during and after the peel as prescribed.
- Ask your skincare professional about anything that may be bothering you – sometimes the changes in your skin are to be expected.
DISCLAIMER: You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.