types of chemical peels

A Simple Guide to Acid Peels

Are you looking to improve your skin but aren’t sure how to do it? There are many lotions and procedures for enhancing the appearance of your skin, making it difficult to choose what’s right for your skin. 

Acid peels are a type of skin treatment that has proven to work well on a variety of skin types. What are acid peels? Who should get them, and how do they work?

Check out this simple guide to acid peels to learn everything you need to know. 

Related: What’s Your Skin Type?

What is an Acid Peel?

While an acid peel may sound scary and invasive, it’s one of the best methods for improving your skin. An acid peel, better known as a chemical peel, is a technique that improves and smoothes the skin’s texture. 

Typically, these peels are for the face, but people can use peels on various body parts. The peels work by removing the outermost layer of the skin to reveal the healthier, fresher layer underneath. 

These peels come in a variety of depths, and the depth you choose will depend on your skin’s condition. The depths include:

  • Light Chemical Peels: These superficial peels remove the outermost layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis. A light chemical peel can treat fine wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dryness, and acne. Because they’re light, these peels can be done every two to five weeks. 
  • Medium Chemical Peels: A medium chemical peel penetrates the epidermis and the upper part of the dermis (the middle layer of the skin). This type of acid peel can treat wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and acne scarring. 
  • Deep Chemical Peels: Deep chemical peels penetrate even further into the skin. These are recommended for deep wrinkles, scars, and ​​precancerous growths.

Who Can Get Acid Peels? 

While acid peels are safe for various skin tones, they’re not suitable for everyone. You may need to avoid an acid peel if:

  • You’ve taken oral acne medication in the past six months.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You experience severe/frequent cold sore outbreaks.
  • You have a personal/family history of keloids (scar tissue overgrowth).

How to Decide Which Acid Peel is Right for You 

Many of us are clueless regarding chemical peels, as there are many different levels and variations. Here’s a chart to help you decide which acid peel is right for your skin.

Glycolic Acid Peel 

This is the most common type of acid peel. It reduces the appearance of fine lines, increases cell turnover rate, removes dead skin cells, and brightens the skin.

Best for: all skin types, especially those with wrinkles and fine lines. Some sensitive types might have issues, as it’s a deeply penetrating peel.

Are you wondering what skin brightening is? Click here to find out

Salicylic Acid Peel 

A salicylic acid peel penetrates deeper into the skin.  It helps control acne, eliminates blackheads and whiteheads, clarifies skin, and reduces pore blockage.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Lactic Acid Peel

This type of peel is known for being less irritating than other peels available. It evens skin tone, lightens pigmentation, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. It is a natural humectant and acts as a great moisturizer.

Best for: All skin types, especially hyper-pigmented skin, dry/sensitive, and mature skin

TCA Acid Peel 

A medium strength peel. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, acne scars, skin tightening, large pores, sun-damaged skin.

Best for: All skin issues, but better for lighter complexions.

Fruit enzyme

As the name suggests, fruit enzyme peels incorporate the enzymes of pumpkin, papaya, and other types of fruit. These peels promote cell renewal, anti-bacterial with a gentle delivery.

Best for: rosacea, dehydrated skin, sensitive skin

How to Prepare for an Acid Peel

Preparation is key to getting the most out of your acid peel. First, it’s important to choose a reputable skin care clinic for performing the peel. We recommend doing some research online and reading some Google reviews to find the right clinic for you. 

Many clinics also let you schedule free consultations, so we recommend taking advantage of these to better understand who you can trust with your skin. 

Before you undergo an acid peel treatment, you’ll likely be required to review your medical history with a doctor or skin care specialist. You may also need to undergo a physical exam. You should also discuss your expectations before the appointment, as this can help you figure out which type of peel is right for you. 

Before your appointment, you may also need to:

  • Take an Antiviral Medication: In addition to oral acne medications, you may also need to start taking an antiviral medication. This will help prevent viral infections after the treatment. 
  • Use a bleaching agent or retinoid cream: Your doctor may also recommend that you use a bleaching agent (such as hydroquinone) or retinoid cream (such as Retina-A) a few weeks leading up to the appointment to prep your skin.
  • Avoid cosmetic treatments: Certain cosmetic treatments should be avoided before your appointment, such as electrolysis, hair dying, intense facial scrubs, and shaving.
  • Avoid sun exposure: Too much sun exposure before your acid peel can lead to irregular pigmentation. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount of sun exposure leading up to your appointment.

Important Note: Peels or acids make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Sunscreen should be used of 30SPF or greater! Check out Perfect Image Hyper-LITE Defense SPF 30 for the perfect after-peel sunscreen.

Additionally, you may need to arrange a ride home after your appointment. If you get a deep chemical peel, you’ll be sedated, so you won’t be able to drive following your appointment. 

Related: How to Get Plump Skin 

What to Expect During the Procedure 

Your procedure experience will depend on the type of acid peel you get. 

If you opt for a lighter acid peel, the specialist will begin by applying the acid solution using gauze or a cotton applicator. You can expect some mild stinging when the chemical solution is applied to your skin. 

After applying the chemical solution, the skin care specialist will use a wash to remove it from the treated area. 

The specialist will also use gauze or cotton to apply the solution to the skin for a medium-strength peel. After the solution has been on the skin for a few minutes, the specialist may apply an ice pack to soothe the skin. You can expect to feel a tingling or burning sensation on your skin for about 20 minutes. 

For deeper peels, you’ll be given an IV fluid, and your heart rate will be closely monitored. The specialist will use a cotton-tipped applicator to apply the solution to the skin. The whole procedure will take about 1.5 hours. 

Related: Best At-Home Chemical Peels 

Are You Ready to Get an Acid Peel? 

As you can see, acid peels are great for improving your skin, and there are many options out there for different skin types. Now, you need to find the right skin care specialist who can help you decide on the right acid peel for your skin. 

Are you looking to learn more about skin peels? Click here to find out

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