Top 5 Chemical Peels

To get the best results, you have to take care of your skin -- before and after.
To get the best results, you have to take care of your skin -- before and after.

If the fountain of youth ever existed, it’s evaded our detection. Luckily, there are ways for us to counteract the effects of aging.

About once a month our bodies shed their skins but, unlike snakes, the shedding doesn’t occur in complete sheets. Instead, a skin cell is lost and – just as quickly – a skin cell is replaced. This is the regenerative process.


Chemical peels can help speed up this process. As the name implies, the skin is peeled away, removing acne scars, age spots and other imperfections. Fresh skin grows in place of the damaged epidermis. There are a variety of chemical peels which utilize different skin removal techniques depending, in part, on the severity of skin damage. The cost of chemical peels also varies but, generally speaking, it’s an expensive procedure.

Click ahead to discover which chemical peel may be right for you.

5: Over the Counter Chemical Peels

If cost is your top concern, over-the-counter chemical peels may be your best option. These treatments rely on a smaller concentration of acidic substances to slowly remove damaged cells, yielding fresh skin with better texture and tone. Understand that the restorative process will likely take longer with these nonprescription formulas. But since chemical peels, by nature, rely on the use of hazardous chemicals, some people are more comfortable with diluted treatments. Plus, depending on the degree of skin damage, over-the-counter options may be all that’s required anyway. Regardless of your choice, make certain to follow label warnings and directions.


4: Glycolic Acid Peels

If the thought of having acid on your face concerns you – which makes sense – then glycolic acid peels are among the least threatening of the bunch. That’s because glycolic acid comes from a family of fruit acids. In other words, it’s all natural. Still, a glycolic acid concentration of more than 10 percent is considered a hazardous material, and the typical concentration for peels is about 50 percent.

Glycolic acid is applied to the skin using a sponge. The acid is rinsed from the face once the desired number of layers is removed. The skin will be pink, and it’ll peel in subsequent days. Approximately a week later the process will be complete.


3: Alpha-hydroxy (AHA) Peels

Like glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) is a fruit acid. But AHA peels also utilize lactic, citric and occasionally salicylic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids separate dead skin from fresh, healthy skin, and the application of water at any point in the process will neutralize the solution. The time from treatment to recovery tends to be about 10 days, but several procedures may be necessary before you receive the desired result.

AHA is available in some low-concentration over-the-counter brands of chemical peels and in higher concentrations from a dermatologist.


2: Phenol Peels

If phenol peels had a slogan it might be “no pain, no gain.” When it comes to chemical peels, they fall in the extremely strong category. The results are often dramatic but the recovery time can be extensive. If you have a date on Friday night, you don’t want to get a phenol peel Friday afternoon. In fact, some patients won’t want to be seen in public for a week or two thanks to extremely red skin, flakes and scabs. The complete regenerative process in this case can take as much as three months.

Phenol peels have the potential to make your skin tighter, smoother and even free of blemishes but they come with risk. Some patients end up with skin that looks permanently bleached. For this reason, phenol peels aren’t recommended for people with darker complexions.


1: Trichloracetic Acid Peels

If Goldilocks were to pick a chemical peel she’d probably go with a trichloroacetic peel. It’s not too mild, not too strong – just right. The procedure takes less than a half hour and the recovery time falls in the middle of the chemical peel spectrum; It takes longer than an AHA peel but far less than a phenol peel. Trichloroacetic acid is often used for wart removal, but as a peel it’s effective at reducing small wrinkles while also improving skin tone. The concentration of trichloracetic acid can be adjusted by a doctor so people with darker complexions are at a smaller risk of developing a bleached-out look.

Chemical peels are not to be taken lightly. It’s important to consider both the benefits and the risks. Still, if you’re willing to endure a period of recovery and red skin, you may emerge with the youthful glow you’re seeking.


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