Perfect to restore your skin’s smoother, younger looking appearance, chemical peels are a highly effective skin resurfacing treatment. Able to treat acne, scarring, signs of aging, and more, rejuvenating chemical peels can be transformative.
Using leading aesthetic technology and artistic expertise, Dr. Andrew Lofman’s aesthetics center provides impeccable care and beautiful results. Keep reading to learn about the different types of chemical peels and which one is right for you.
About chemical peels
Remove damaged skin for a more even and radiant complexion with a Chemical Peel. This aesthetic treatment is applied like a mask and encourages the skin to shed its outermost layer, revealing younger, brighter, smoother skin. Chemical peels are a highly-effective treatment for resurfacing the skin, combating:
- Acne scars
- Skin discoloration
- Uneven skin tone
- Aging skin / spots
- Actinic Keratosis
- Enlarged pores
Chemical peels can be categorized in 3 ways: superficial, medium-depth, and deep. This has to do with the specific ingredients, and indicates how deeply the mask will penetrate your skin. Deeper penetration allows the peel to treat more severe conditions. For example, those without major acne scars, sun spots, or wrinkles may benefit more from a superficial chemical peel, but those who struggle with age spots and actinic keratosis may need a deep formula.
What makes different types of chemical peels effective?
Chemical peels use acid, a chemical exfoliant, to gently remove the outermost layers of dull, dead skin and reveal new radiant, smooth skin underneath. Chemical exfoliants can also promote collagen production deeper underneath the surface of the skin to combat texture and fine lines and wrinkles.
The two most common types of exfoliants used in chemical peels are alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). AHAs are water soluble and naturally occuring. One example is Glycolic acid, which is derived from sugar cane and one of the best tolerated AHAs used in many skin care products.
BHAs, more often used in medium to deep chemical peels, are oil soluble, which is what allows them to penetrate deeper into your pores.
Types of chemical peels
The two outermost layers of your skin are the epidermis and the dermis. Different types of chemical peels are categorized by how deeply they are able to penetrate your skin and which layers the chemical exfoliants encourage your skin to shed.
Superficial chemical peels
Superficial, or light, chemical peels are very gentle; the main exfoliant used in these types of chemical peels is an AHA like glycolic acid, which penetrates on the outermost layer of skin.
With a light peel, any redness and irritation you experience while recovering should be very minimal. The recovery period is typically only a few days to a week of limited product use and sun exposure.
Light peels are ideal for first-time clients, or those who have sensitive skin, and are best suited to address:
- Fine lines
- Acne scarring
- Unwanted texture
- Uneven skin tone
Because these types of chemical peels are so gentle, we recommend repeated treatments up to once a month for best results.
Medium-depth chemical peels
Medium-depth peels require a longer recovery period, but produce more dramatic results after just a single treatment. Immediately following your peel, you may experience redness, irritation, and flakiness as your skin begins to shed its dead and dull exterior to reveal a refreshed and rejuvenated you. Redness may persist for a couple weeks to a month.
This type of chemical peel is ideal for clients with more pronounced:
- Acne scars
- Lines and wrinkles
- Uneven skin tone or hyperpigmentation
- Sun spots
Medium-depth chemical peels can be repeated every 4-6 months to maintain your results.
Deep chemical peels
Involving the harshest ingredients and penetrating your skin through the dermis, deep chemical peels are reserved for clients with extensive:
- Sun damage
- Actinic keratoses (precancerous growths)
These types of chemical peels also require a longer and more intense recovery process, including limiting your skin care products, exposure to sun, and exercise for a period of time. Peeling and even crusting may persist for 2-3 weeks, with redness lasting around 6 weeks,
Deep chemical peel results are highly transformative and can last for years.
How to choose the type of chemical peel for you
Chemical peels are not one size fits all! When choosing which type of chemical peel is right for you, it can be a balancing act between many different factors. That’s where we come in; aesthetics professionals from Dr. Lofman’s practice consult with you to outline your goals and build a custom treatment plan.
All elements of your skin’s history are essential considerations in choosing which chemical peel is best suited for you. Skin sensitivity, propensity to pigment or scar easily, and skin type (dry, normal, or oily) contribute to predicting how a chemical peel could affect you. For example, those with sensitive skin will need a lighter, more gentle peel.
As we’ve learned, different types of chemical peels lend themselves to specific treatment results. Understanding your treatment goals, whether it’s smoothing fine lines or reducing the appearance of scars, helps our providers at Dr. Lofman’s make personalized recommendations that match your unique needs.
Your lifestyle is an important factor when considering your recovery process after a chemical peel. If you’re extremely active, choosing a peel that requires a lengthy recovery time may be disruptive to your routine; you may prefer a light peel that requires only a few days of downtime. It’s all a balancing act.
When to get a chemical peel
A chemical peel can be the perfect way to achieve radiant, glowing skin before an event—just be mindful of how far in advance you need to schedule your treatment. For a light peel, allow yourself at least a month for recovery. If you’re opting for a medium peel, allow for 3-4 months. Unless you are able to begin planning around a year in advance, a deep chemical peel is not suited for event preparation.
Traditionally, fall and winter are the best seasons for chemical peels, because avoiding sun exposure is key in the recovery process; however, with diligent sun protection, one can safely reap the benefits of a chemical peel any time of the year.
How to prepare for a chemical peel
Once you’ve chosen the peel that’s right for you, it’s time to start prepping for your treatment. Here are four steps you should take to ensure a healthy recovery and beautiful results.
Consult with your provider
It’s essential to consult with your aesthetics provider before your chemical peel about any skin sensitivities and current medications before your treatment. Certain antibiotics, acne medications like isotretinoin, and other oral medications may increase your skin’s sensitivity to the chemical exfoliants in your peel. If you take an antiviral medication for cold sores, you may also want to disclose this to your provider.
When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Lofman and his team, you will receive custom recommendations to meet your skin’s unique needs.
Protect your skin from heavy sun exposure
Avoiding sun exposure is a helpful tip both before and after your chemical peel. And yes, this includes tanning beds! We recommend protecting your face using broad-spectrum UVA and UVB coverage SPF of 30 or higher for at least 10 days leading up to your treatment.
Making sure that your skin is properly protected from the sun is a skincare habit you can employ year-round, not just to prepare for a chemical peel. Daily topical SPF is an easy way to lock-in moisture and slow signs of aging.
Avoid other chemical treatments
If you’re like us and love following a daily skincare routine, check your moisturizers, serums, and creams for chemical exfoliants like retinol and hydroxy acids. To avoid over-exfoliation, pause on these products leading up to your chemical peel, and wait until your skin is fully healed before resuming use.
Adding these ingredients back into your regimen before your skin is ready may cause adverse side effects after your peel, like flakiness, redness, and irritation.
Don’t double up on treatments
For the week leading up to your treatment, you should avoid any potentially irritating facial treatments, including waxing, plucking, shaving, microneedling, dermaplaning, and laser treatments.
Some of these treatments, like dermaplaning, can actually be an efficient way to prepare your skin for a chemical peel. Just be sure to schedule your session at least two weeks prior to your peel in order to avoid side effects like itching, flaking, and irritation. Any Botox or Dermal Filler treatments should also be scheduled at least two weeks in advance of your peel.
After a chemical peel, your skin needs time to complete the restoration and healing process without the interference of additional treatments and products. If you’re planning additional treatments, be sure to space them out from your chemical peel accordingly.