WHAT IS A CHEMICAL PEEL?
Incredibly, Queen Cleopatra was one of the first advocates of chemical peels and used goat’s milk (lactic acid) to achieve softer skin. Since then, chemical peels have become one of the top 10 most commonly performed aesthetic procedures in the world, thanks to their versatility and ability to enhance the results of skincare regimes, as well as tackling more significant skincare concerns such as pigmentation, treating photodamage, post-blemish scarring, wrinkles, and dullness.
Chemical peels are a passion topic for Dr Uliana Gout – a cosmetic doctor and one of the UK’s leading experts on this area of aesthetic medicine. Here she gives an in-depth summary of two key professional peel treatments from the SkinCeuticals portfolio.
Considerations before peeling
As with any professional aesthetic treatment, the first step should always be a full consultation with a qualified practitioner to ensure that the chemical peel is appropriate for your skin needs and that are no contra-indications, which could result in a negative treatment experience.
Common contra-indications for chemical peels include (but are not limited to) pregnancy, breast feeding, sunburnt, irritated or broken skin, herpes virus, laser hair removal photosensitising medications and oral isotretinoin to name a few.
Gel Peel GL
According to Dr Gout, the ideal ‘entry-level’ peel in the SkinCeuticals professional treatment range is the Gel Peel GL. This is due to its pH of 3.2 and formula that contains 20% Glycolic Acid and 10% Lactic Acid.
Lactic Acid has both an exfoliating and moisturising action in peels which helps to reveal the newer epidermal layers of the skin. This makes Gel Peel GL a good option for menopausal women, frequent travellers and anyone with drier skin.
This type of peel can also be used for any gender, age group and Fitzpatrick skin type. It’s used to treat problematic skin (with or without breakouts), photodamage and improve elasticity and wrinkles.
For optimal results, Dr Gout recommends booking a course of 4-6 Gel Peel GL treatments, each spaced 10-14 days apart. In general, once the skin has returned to ‘normal’, it is possible to repeat the peel.
What to expect before and after a peel
Before your skincare professional applies the peel, they will first degrease the skin – this ensures the peel will work effectively. Sensitive areas such as lips, nostrils and around the eyes are protected with a barrier cream, before Gel Peel GL is applied to the face using a fan brush and left for 3-5 minutes, or until skin reactivity is seen. The peel is then neutralised with water and any irritation can be treated by applying a cooling, hydrating product such as Phyto Corrective Masque.
Post-treatment care after a peel is pivotal, and Dr Gout recommends using an antioxidant serum such as C E Ferulic to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and to stimulate collagen production. Sun protection is also essential for homecare and peels to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Skin is more sensitive to sun exposure following a peel treatment and unless it is protected with a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, it can result in more pigmentation, particularly in darker skin types.
Finally, Dr Gout recommends following a tailored homecare regime with an effective cleanser and antioxidant product. Glycolic Renewal Cleanser, for example, can help to maintain the results of a chemical peel with an exfoliating, dual-acid blend that contains 8% glycolic acid. Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight can also be applied before bed to extend the results of a chemical peel and pre-condition the skin. It does this with a synergistic combination of 10% glycolic free acid value, 2% Phytic acid to promote skin clarity and brightness, and a triple action-soothing complex of botanicals and oils that help to support the skin barrier. Don’t forget to apply a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen the next morning to maximise and maintain results and protect the skin.
Pigment Balancing Peel
This peel is at the other end of the SkinCeuticals professional treatment portfolio spectrum. Much deeper penetrating, it combines brightening and anti-inflammatory agents with a peeling solution to target hyperpigmentation, improve photodamaged skin.
For concerns around pigmentation, the simple 'stretch test' can be used as an initial indicator of pigmentation depth - using the fingers to stretch a small area of skin. If the pigmentation goes lighter, the pigment is located at the epidermal skin layer, or if there is no change, the pigmentation is located more deeply in the dermal skin layer. This helps determine what level of peel is required to treat effectively.
SkinCeuticals Pigment Balancing Peel contains 40% Glycolic Acid, 10% Citric Acid, 27% Vitamin C and 4% Emblica. It also has a pH of 1.6 which penetrates the skin more deeply. Again, Dr Gout recommends booking a series of six treatments, spaced 10-14 days apart for maximal results.
Your skincare professional will first prepare the skin (cleansing, degreasing and protecting sensitive areas) before applying the Pigment Balancing Peel with a fan brush and leaving for 2-4 minutes or until skin reactivity becomes visible, at which point the peel is neutralised with sodium bicarbonate solution (SkinCeuticals Peel Neutralizer).
Post peel, an antioxidant treatment (such as C E Ferulic) followed by a lipid barrier repair cream to replace lost ceramides and cholesterol (such as Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2) are recommended for regular use. Phyto Corrective Masque can also help to cool and calm the skin after a peel thanks to its formula of highly concentrated botanical extracts, a calming Dipeptide and Hyaluronic Acid.
Once again, a high quality, broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen should be applied after a peel to protect the skin which will now be more sensitive. Dr Gout recommends leaving it a few days until skin begins to recover before resuming the use of active exfoliant skincare (e.g. containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinoids etc.).