How a chemical peel can change your skin

By Ingrid Wood

Just as you need to eat healthily and exercise to keep your body working optimally, so you need to do the same with your skin. Your skin is your largest organ and is affected by diet, environmental exposure, stress levels and your emotional state, so sometimes a little extra help is needed.

As chemical peels remove the outermost layer (and, depending on the strength of the peel, will penetrate deeper), they are great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, removing dark spots, minimising acne scars and reducing the effects of sun damage – in other words give the skin a more youthful appearance.

While some people are afraid of peels, if done by a professional, there really is a safe and effective peel available for almost every skin type, including darker skin tones, like the new Dermaceutic Crystal Peel.

What is a professional peel?

A qualified aesthetician applies an active chemical solution to the skin to remove the top layers. It is a deep but controlled natural exfoliation and is generally used to treat skin concerns such as acne, pigmentation disorders and skin ageing. There are two main types of peels, says Sonette Donker, owner of Skin iD and Skin Fundi:

  • Superficial or light peels penetrate only the upper layer of the epidermis and are generally used to target acne and premature ageing. They can be used on all skin types.
  • Medium to deep peels target deeper skin concerns such as deeper wrinkles, scars and signs of ageing and advanced pigmentation. You may feel an intense heating sensation while the peel is on your skin. “The deeper the peel, the longer it takes to see the benefit, but the longer the results last,” says Sonette, who advises clients to time their peel based on their activities to allow for recovery time.

What is the downtime?

As this is a deep exfoliation, your skin will undergo a recovery process after the treatment and will be more susceptible to the sun, so protection is key. The depth of the peel will determine how long it will take your skin to heal. No downtime is required after a superficial chemical peel. There may be some redness immediately after the treatment which fades quickly and you might experience slight flaking and some dullness for a few days after the treatment as the dead skin cells move to the surface, but a beautiful glow will kick in within the week. You are likely to experience some swelling and flaking for a few days after a medium to deep chemical peel, says Sonette, but the skin will heal within a week to two, depending on the strength of the peel.

Should I only do peels in winter?

While some people don’t like to do peels in summer, it’s not an issue if you follow the post-treatment procedures and apply the recommended sunscreen, says Sonette. “The reality is in South Africa there’s always sun so just protect your skin, as you should do anyway.”

How often should I go for a peel?

After a consultation, Sonette always starts her clients off on a corrective phase. “If my client has bad adult acne due to stress, for example, I like to do four treatments – one treatment every two weeks. Then we rest the skin for a month before entering the maintenance phase, which is a treatment every four to six weeks, depending on how the skin is responding as well as the client’s budget. If there is no major skin concern, I usually see my clients every four weeks.”

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