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Upkeep's Guide To Chemical Peels

This classic treatment is a mainstay for good reason.

January 20, 2023

When you stop to think about it, your skin has a pretty hard job. Not only does it have to protect you against the pollution and dirt of the outside world, it’s also affected by problems inside your body, like inflammation and hormonal issues. It’s no wonder that sometimes your skin can look dull, uneven, sun-damaged, or acne-scarred, even with high quality skincare. She’s pulling double shifts, after all!

Fortunately, there’s a super effective treatment that can help with those issues: chemical peels. Chemical peels are a tried-and-true treatment that work on a variety of skin concerns. If you’re looking for smoother, brighter, more perfected skin, a chemical peel may be just what you need. 

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel uses a chemical solution to remove damaged outer layers, resulting in improved texture and tone. Dermatologists have been using chemical peels for decades. There are three basic versions of chemical peels: light, medium, and deep. Light peels treat the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. This option is best for those looking to treat fine lines, uneven pigmentation, or acne. Medium chemical peels treat the epidermis, plus some of the dermis, which is the next layer of skin underneath. Medium peels treat issues like acne scars, deeper wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Deep peels go even further, down to the lower levels of the dermis. Deep chemical peels treat deeper wrinkles, sun damage, scars, and even pre-cancerous growths. Deep chemical peels are much more intense than the other two types of chemical peels. For this blog, we’re focusing on light and medium peels, as they’re much more common, and most people won’t need a deep peel. 

What different ingredients are used in chemical peels?

Light peels: glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and maleic acid 

Medium peels: glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid

Deep peels: phenol

What issues do chemical peels treat?

  • Acne
  • Acne scars 
  • Uneven skin pigmentation
  • Sun damage
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Some other types of scars

While they work for lots of different issues, there are a couple of things chemical peels can’t do. Chemical peels can’t treat deep scars or deep wrinkles. They also can’t tighten loose skin. For that, you’ll want to look into treatments like Morpheus8. 

What are the benefits of a chemical peel?

More even skin tone

A bright, refreshed glow

Reduced acne scarring

Reduced dark spots from sun damage

Reduced acne lesions 

Improvement in fine lines and wrinkles

What does it feel like to get a chemical peel? 

You probably expect something called a “chemical peel” to be uncomfortable. After all, the word “chemical” sounds intimidating. But light chemical peels are pretty low-key. You’ll experience some tingling and stinging as the treatment is applied, but it’s no big deal. Medium peels sting more, and you’ll usually get some cold compresses after the treatment to help with discomfort. If you can tolerate a Brazilian wax, then chemical peels won’t phase you. 

What is the downtime for chemical peels?

The downtime depends on the strength of the peel itself. Light peels have the least downtime, as you might expect. Some irritation, peeling, and redness after the procedure is common, but these effects typically resolve in about a week. Your skin might look a bit sunburned and flaky, but you can usually wear makeup the next day after the peel. Medium peels feel like a bad sunburn–you’ll probably need to take a few days off, and you’ll experience some swelling, peeling, and intense redness. You’ll also need to completely avoid the sun for at least two weeks.

It’s important to follow your provider’s aftercare instructions after getting any chemical peel. And  remember to protect your delicate post-peel skin from the sun–otherwise you could develop new sun damage, which is the opposite of what you want. Likewise, don’t use makeup until your provider says it’s ok, and only use skincare products that your treatment provider has approved.

Who is a good candidate for chemical peels?

If you suffer from acne, acne scarring, sun damage, or fine lines and wrinkles, you may be a good candidate. And if you don’t have any major skincare concerns, but you’re just looking for a way to boost your skin’s natural glow, light peels are a perfect option for you. However, if you have darker skin, some chemical peels can cause pigmentation issues. That’s why it’s very important to go to a qualified medical provider, who can assess the risks and benefits for your unique case and determine which version of a chemical peel will work for you, or suggest alternatives. If you have extremely sensitive skin, or you are currently taking certain medications or supplements, chemical peels also may not be right for you. 

How many treatment sessions do I need for chemical peels?

Light peels are the most comfortable version of a chemical peel–but they also require more sessions for best results. You may opt for about 3-5 sessions total, spaced a few weeks apart. Medium peels are more of a one-and-done scenario, but you can periodically repeat them. 

Where do I get a chemical peel?

Like we said before, you should only get a chemical peel from a qualified, licensed medical provider who can accurately assess which treatment will work best for you. You might be thinking, how am I supposed to find the right provider?? Who has time for that? That’s where Upkeep comes in–our app that makes it super easy to book treatments at MedSpas near you. We partner with only the best MedSpas so you can be sure you’re getting the top-notch treatment you deserve. Plus, booking through the app is super easy–no need to call and wait on hold, just a few taps on your phone is all you’ll need to do to book your chemical peel. It literally takes less time than watching a TikTok. 

Ready for glowing, even-toned skin? Book your chemical peel with Upkeep today!

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