I’ve had a lot of my friends ask me about the chemical peels I’ve gotten done. There are many misconceptions of what a chemical peel is, whether or not it hurts, if it damages your skin, etc. I’ve gotten quite a few done before and have had extremely varying results. Sometimes my skin looks the same. Sometimes the redness is greatly reduced and my skin glows. And once, I broke out in hives for days. It’s hard to figure out what types of acids your skin will react positively to but trial and error, as well as discussing it with your dermatology and esthetician, have been the best ways for me. Soooooo…
…what is a chemical peel?
Glad you asked! Chemical peels are face masks that consist of acids. They are applied to your skin for anywhere between 3-5 minutes (I typically have mine on for 3-4 minutes). Essentially, a chemical peel kills off the top layers of your skin cells so new ones can regenerate and grow.
Where can I get a chemical peel?
I’ve gotten them from both my dermatologist and esthetician. You can also get them from either place! From my experience, the dermatologist peels are stronger. Something to do with a doctor’s office having the authorization to use peels with stronger acids (?). Personally, I prefer esthetician peels because they are milder and still get the job done. The dermatologist peels seemed to be too harsh on my skin, causing hives.
What kinds of chemical peels are out there?
There are three levels of peels. Most people get a level 1 peel, which is the lightest peel (FYI IT STILL HURTS – don’t let anyone tell you it just “stings a bit”). Since I use peels to treat my acne and rosacea, I get glycolic acid peels. Other popular light peels are salicylic and lactic peels. They treat superficial blemishes, such as acne, dryness, redness, minor wrinkling, among others. The next level is medium, which typically uses trichloroacetic acids. People typically get it to treat pigmentation issues and wrinkling. The last peel is a deep peel, which uses phenol acids. This peel requires the most time on your face – 1-2 hours. It is used to treat pre-cancerous skin cells, deep wrinkles, really blotchy skin, etc. If you are doing a peel for the first time, just get a light peel and see how your skin reacts. Most people do a light one anyways.
Does it hurt?
YES. I’m not even going to lie to you and tell you it is a stinging or tingling sensation. It hurts a LOT. But remember, it’s only on for a few minutes and can be quickly removed if it becomes too painful. And the dermatologist peels are definitely way more painful than the esthetician peels. The at-home peels, though, are very mild–you might not even feel it.
Is it expensive?
Not really. The two chemical peels I got done at my dermatologist were $50 each. The chemical peels that I do with my esthetician are part of my Oxygen Infusion Facial ($195). So technically the esthetician facials are much pricier but it’s a full facial, not just a chemical peel. Which, BTW, I definitely recommend the Oxygen Infusion Facials. They’re similar to the popular Hydrafacials but my esthetician recommended an oxygen one instead for my skin type (combination skin). The at-home peels I mention below are $88 per box and come with enough pads for 30 treatments.
Can I do a chemical peel at home?
Actually yes you can! I just got the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. These are gentle enough that you can use them every day. I haven’t actually opened up my box yet but I got one done last weekend at a Spa Nordstrom event and really liked it. I’m usually really skeptical about these “at home” peels that claim they do a great job but this one really does. I had the esthetician use it on my hand too, so I could see the difference in color between my two hands and the redness was greatly reduced on the hand that the peel was used on.
I hope this answers some of your questions and let me know if you have any more or if you want recommendations on who to go to/what to get!
PS: s/o to my beautiful cousin Kasia in my pic above! Yes her name is also Kasia lol.