According to the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, chemical peels are the “third most commonly performed non-invasive cosmetic procedure in the United States.” Although their popularity has been in a slight decline since their peak in the 1990s, ever since laser treatments came on the scene, chemical peels remain popular options at medical spas across the country.
Knowing why you should get a chemical peel and which to choose can be confusing as the differences between them can be extreme. Nonetheless, chemical peel benefits cover the spectrum of skincare so they’re worth looking into no matter the status of your skin.
What is a Chemical Peel?
No matter which level of peel you get — superficial, medium or deep — all chemical peels work the same. They remove the outer layer of dead or dry skin through the application of chemicals to reveal the smoother, younger-looking skin underneath.
This is done through the process of chemexfoliation (chemical exfoliation) which uses specific agents of various strengths to perform rapid, predictable, and uniform removal of skin cells through controlled damage. This “damage” dissolves the molecules that hold skin together, allowing it to break down, shed and make way for the newer layer of skin.
“Peels remove all that dry, dull debris and reveal softer, smoother skin underneath,” Charmaine Cooper, Education Manager for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, tells Dermalogica. “In as few as three treatments, peels can reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines, smooth skin texture and even reduce the appearance of breakouts.”
Chemical peel types
As one can guess from the name, Superficial/Lunchtime peels are lighter peels that require little to no downtime which see full results in as few as seven days.
Typically, alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid removes the thinner, outer layer of skin and gently exfoliates. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, these are great options for people looking to correct minor skin issues like uneven pigmentation, dryness, acne or those with sensitive skin.
Our Illuminize Peel provides vibrant, radiant-looking skin for people who are looking to correct these kinds of minor imperfections without waiting days and days for results.
Medium peels go deeper and take longer to heal than superficial peels — 14 days compared to 7 — but are much stronger. They typically use glycolic or trichloroacetic acid to dig deeper into the skin, hitting the outer layer (epidermis) and the middle layer (dermis) to remove damaged cells.
These peels are great for people who want to treat larger skin issues. Age spots, wrinkles, freckles, sun damage, acne scars, rough texture and moderate skin discoloration can all be treated by medium peels.
The Vitalize Peel from Courted tackles these more moderate skin conditions, leaving skin smoother, more even and free of breakouts.
Deep peels are the most intense chemical peel. They typically use trichloroacetic acid or phenol to penetrate deep into the skin, down to the lower dermal layer, removing damaged skin and kick-starting serious growth of skin cells to compensate for the removal of the dead and damaged skin.
Due to the chemicals used, how deep it treats, and how much skin is removed, these peels can take up to 21 days to recover from. The new skin is sensitive and needs special care for the first two weeks to make sure that it is not damaged while in its delicate state. Since deep peels go so deep, they are able to treat moderate to severe discoloration, uneven skin tone, acne scarring, wrinkles and sun-damaged skin.
Courted offers two deep peels – the Rejuvenize Peel and the Advanced Complexion Blending Peel. These peels tackle moderate to severe skin conditions that specifically target acne scars, wrinkles and discoloration.
Chemical Peel vs. Microdermabrasion
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are often used for similar effects — to remove dead layers of skin and reveal a healthier, more radiant glow. Both are able to treat fine lines and other skin blemishes, so the main difference is between the method in which they are applied.
Chemical peels use chemical exfoliants to remove the dead skin cells with the peeling of skin while microdermabrasion is a superficial (top layer) exfoliation that vacuums away the dead skin cells.
3 Chemical Peel Benefits
Improves skin appearance
Chemical peels help improve overall skin appearance at all three levels of peel. On the surface level, it exfoliates skin to leave the new layers smoother and with a more even tone and texture. Deeper down, it can help to control acne breakouts, reduce acne marks and scarring, unclog pores and remove blackheads.
They can also help the skin absorb products better thanks to the removal of the dead skin cells, making it easier for the new skin to absorb vitamins and minerals that it needs to be healthy and thrive.
While improving skin appearance often goes hand in hand with repairing skin damage, chemical peels can be applied specifically to correct blemishes caused by things that have damaged skin in the past.
Chemical peels are great at treating sun-damaged skin, attacking sunspots, freckles and pigmentation, and fine lines caused by the sun that, if left untreated, can prematurely age skin, making you look older.
Reduces signs of aging
If chemical peels can reverse damage and improve skin appearance and reveal younger-looking skin, it’s no wonder that they are often used to reduce signs of aging.
As they exfoliate and remove outer, dead layers of skin, they reduce the appearance of fine lines, moderate wrinkles and crow’s feet. Lines around your eyes, forehead and mouth can be reduced, making you look younger and your skin tighter.
Medium peels can tackle most fine lines and wrinkles while deep peels are able to really get at deep-set wrinkles or sagging skin.
Peel Your Way to Skin Perfection
From light and quick to deep and dramatic, the selection of chemical peels from Courted at The St. James has what you need to get your skin where it needs to be. We offer four different chemical peels, so try one or try them all! Give us a call at (703) 239-6910 or visit us online to book your chemical peel today.