Chemical Peels should be called something else really as they sound far worse than they actually are. And putting something called glycolic acid on your face sounds horrendous! However, I was today year's old to learn it's actually just sugar. WHAT. We're thrilled then, that the wonderful Mary Munro from Taunton Aesthetics has written this piece for Glowday to educate us all properly!
Why acid is great for your face!
Don't let fear stop you!
The most common reason why patients don't book an appointment for skin peels is fear. One of the questions I ask my patients in a consultation is “why haven’t you been here sooner “or “why now?”
Patients openly express that they have avoided procedures due to the unknown, fear of what will happen, pain and expectations.
For some they have heard horror stories or misinformation provided by friends or even a bad experience in the past has knocked their confidence to seek further help or guidance regarding their skin concerns.
Does it hurt? Will my face fall off? Can I go blind? Does it burn your skin? Will I be able to go to work? How long does it last?
It's easy to understand why there are so many misconceptions, if you don't know, you don't know! It’s our job as a medical professional to educate patients, given the huge and intimidating variety of different treatments on the market. Our experience and depth of knowledge will allow us to predict your outcome, how many treatments will be required for that outcome and the potential cost this will mean for you. Worrying about outcomes that are - largely - not relevant, is my job, not yours and during your consultation with your practitioner they will go through all of the questions you have and you will almost, always, be reassured by the answers!
Before and after photo of a chemical peel. Chelsea is a regular patient at Gema Lorenzo Aesthetics and says chemical peels have changed her life!
So why do we advocate chemical peels? What is their purpose and what benefit does it have for our skin?
Chemical Peels significantly improve the texture and tone of your skin.
When we reduce the skins pH – we make it more acidic, this allows the dead cells to slough (shed) off by loosening the “glue” that holds them in place.
As we get older the “glue” that holds all the outer most skin cells together becomes stickier and the cells become thicker and needs a little more help than just mechanical exfoliation. Bring in the AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids)!
- They improve the efficacy of other ingredients with the skin – this means it helps them work better.
- They improve how well other ingredients can penetrate down to the deeper layers of skin.
- In time they can thicken the epidermis and dermis – the upper layers of skin.
- Promotes collagen and skin cell synthesis - encourages our skin to make its own collagen and skin cells.
- They increase cellular turnover – stops our skin from getting lazy – lazy skin = dull and wrinkly skin.
So why do we want to increase cell turn over?
I always explain to my patients that on average our bodies make new skin cells, and they take between 30-60 days depending on our age for that newly made cell to reach death and shed off. Increasing cell turnover speeds that process up, so we have fresher looking skin on the outer most surface and then that fresh skin is then replaced very quickly by even more new skin and the cycle continues. The skin is usually smoother, more even toned and has more resilience to the environment around it such as the free radicals which increases premature aging.
Everyone expects the shock peels where the skin is shedding like a snake but in reality, these peels are not that conducive to daily living and often enough not performed in the majority of clinics.
In my clinic I mainly work with peels of very superficial through to medium depth peels. Some clinics can work with medium and deep peels and these can all depend on a number of factors such as type of acid used, number of layers applied and how long they are left on the skin.
So what exactly is Glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is one of the lovely peeling ingredients I use in my clinic, and it isn’t as scary as people might originally think. Does sugar cane sound scary to you? Because that’s pretty much what we are talking about.
Glycolic acid is such a fine molecule that it manages to really sit in-between all the dead cells and breaks down that sticky glue to allow the cells to lift revealing vibrant, radiant and glowing skin. The glycolic molecule is the smallest so it can technically get into all the nooks and crannies much better than its larger molecule friends such as lactic acid – another AHA acid which works wonderfully to exfoliate your skin. Because glycolic is smaller it can get to the deeper layers and helps to correct different issues such as fine lines and wrinkles, deeper pigmentation and deeper scarring that originate in the upper dermis.
Don't try this at home
I have found that glycolic peels can be quite dehydrating and sensitising so it’s important that you don’t start buying these peels from online stores and DIY it without some good research and knowledge, as you can really break down your hydrolipid barrier which can result in your skin becoming sore and inflamed. Particularly if you are using other active ingredients in your skincare regime.
If your skin barrier is already compromised this needs to be built up first and then maybe approached with a gentler acid so it’s important to buddy up with a skin care specialist such as a Glowday medical professional who can provide you with a collection of treatment serums and skincare products to work in unison with your in-clinic peels.
With anything active on your skin its important to have the right guidance and support. The skin is our largest organ of the body, it needs to regenerate from the inside out and not to be damaged from the outside without control. This means using corrective percentages but equally these need to be introduced slowly.
What's the best chemical peel?
Go low and go slow. Rome was not made in a day. We need to build up your resilience and this allows your skin to feel that familiarity with those molecules in your skin so there is less likely to be any reactions that leave your skin red or inflamed.
In conclusion there are an amazing array of peel and skincare products on the market and there isn’t a particular brand that is the best or the worst. What’s important is that you have the right support and a practitioner who will take responsibility for the treatments they do on you or advocate for you. Treatments come with a degree of risk and it's important you feel safe and supported and because I, and all of the other Glowday practitioners, belong to regulatory bodies, you can rest assured that we only have your health and wellbeing at heart.
So here’s to healthy and glowing skin that ultimately makes you feel amazing!
If you live further afield than Taunton and looking for a chemical peel practitioner closer to home you can always search from hundreds of medically-qualified professionals on Glowday