How Much Home Peeling is Too Much?
A necessary part of maintaining healthy skin is to regularly exfoliate. Removing a buildup of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin is essential in any skincare regimen. Regular exfoliation helps to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, clogged pores and recurring acne breakouts. It will also help you to maintain an overall healthy complexion.
Dead skin cells create a dull appearance to your skin and they also act as a block inhibiting the penetration of active ingredients in your home-care skin care products.
Our natural skin cell turnover slows as we age. Exfoliating helps to slough off these surface dead skin cells so healthy new skin cells are encouraged to produce. This contributes greatly to a more youthful looking complexion. Without question exfoliating the skin’s surface on a regular basis will help your skin look brighter, more even toned, fresh and more radiant.
Dangerous DIY Trends
It is understandable that during this time of Spa shutdowns and limited professional skincare availability people are seeking skincare solutions for home use. While professional peels of a higher strength and penetration factor are a key aspect of any skin rejuvenating treatment (when administered by a professional), the current disturbing trend is the rise in consumer use of these professional ingredients for exfoliation at home.
Remember whatever peel product you choose is only as good as your capacity to use it and understand correctly how it works. Just because it is possible to find and purchase professional level peels online does not mean you should attempt to do them on yourself at home; even if you feel you can trust the vendor you purchased them from. The risk of complications from over processing the skin and taking resurfacing a step too far is just too great.
Know Your Risk
Many people are probably not aware of the very real risks associated with the application of professional level peels at home. Over-exfoliating the skin can result in serious undesired skin reactions. When the protective epidermal barrier is stripped away this disrupts the natural moisture factor (NMF) of the skin leading to dehydration, irritation (persistent redness), post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (patchy dark spots) and sometimes excessive peeling beyond the intended result.
Understanding Peel Levels
Superficial Depth Peels:
Superficial depth peels are mild enzyme or acid peels whose primary function is to exfoliate and help shed dead skin cells, improving the look and feel of your skin. They are the most popular form of “legitimate” home peels because they are especially formulated for consumers who want to maintain their skin at home between their professional appointments.
These formulations contain a lower concentration of exfoliating ingredients, usually between one and five percent, and can be used once a week for safe and effective exfoliation. Lactic Acid, Retinol, and Pumpkin Enzyme are some examples of the ingredients found in these superficial home peels.
Medium Depth Peels:
Medium depth peels are specifically created for in-clinic use. These peels are designed for professional estheticians and skincare professionals to treat clients who are looking for accelerated skin rejuvenation results. Medium depth peels are formulated with ingredients such as Phenylethyl Resorcinol, and Trichloroacetic Acid ranging from 7% to 15% and above, and usually combined in a blend with Lactic Acid and Salicylic Acid for a controlled exfoliation effect similar to that of a second-degree burn.
Deep chemical peels require medical supervision because they exfoliate to the level of removing the top layer of the skin. An example of a deep chemical peel is a phenol peel. This type of peel can have dangerous side effects and should only be performed at doctor’s office or surgery center.
When a peel solution is applied to the skin it will seek its depth depending on the formulation, your skin type and how your skin has been prepped to receive the solution. There are four basic skin types, and each have unique characteristics when it comes to how your skin absorbs and processes a peel.
DRY SKIN – People with dry skin do not absorb peel solutions as efficiently and take longer to recover from a peel. Characteristics of dry skin are:
• Lack of Sebum Production
• Lack of Moisture Content
• Fine texture
• Delicate Thin Appearance
OILY SKIN – People with oily skin have more open pores so a peel absorbs quickly.
Characteristics of oily skin are:
• Excessive Sebum Production
• Adequate Moisture Content
• Thick Texture
• Shiny Appearance
COMBINATION SKIN- People with combination skin may experience different results per area. For example, thick skin may need to be prepped to achieve an even peel penetration. Characteristics of combination skin are:
• Dry Zones – medium/fine texture
• Oily Zones – medium/thick texture
• Unbalanced Moisture Content
• Combination of Oily/Dry Appearance
NORMAL SKIN – People with normal skin absorb peel solutions efficiently and recover easily. Characteristics of normal skin are:
• Balanced Sebum Production
• Balanced Moisture Content
• Medium Texture
Pre-Conditioning and Post Peel Recovery
Pre and post-treatment daily maintenance homecare regimens are proven to boost healing time and are vitally important for professional peel skin rejuvenation. Be aware that skin rejuvenating ingredients like retinol and glycolic contained in your homecare skincare product regimen are also exfoliating ingredients and can rev up the rate of cell renewal. This can contribute to an undesired intensity of a peel solution and create adverse reactions. For example, retinol, as well as benzoyl peroxide, are good choices for acne prone skin, but because both products are exfoliating agents when mixed together they can create excessive peeling and lead to unwanted complications.
If you are using topical products that contain these ingredients do not apply them the same day as your peel or the day after. Not being aware of this can be a major reason why your skin requires a prolonged recovery from a peel. Other contra indications to a peel are a skin disorder, viral lesions (active Herpes Simplex), a sunburn, a history of scarring, if you have recently waxed, or if you are on or have recently been on a prescribed topical medication like Accutane.
If your skin is showing symptoms of over exfoliation, which manifests in irritation, redness and inflammation, or if you experience a reaction such as persistent redness (persisting beyond 3 to 5 days with a superficial peel, 15 days with a medium depth peel), burning, swelling or blistering, follow a burn protocol of cool compresses, hydrocortisone and an ointment of 80 percent shea butter or even Vaseline to help the healing process.
The Benefits of Peeling at Home Safely
The “too much, too soon” syndrome can be a common occurrence when people decide to treat their own skin at home with a peel. We encourage exfoliating your skin at home as part of your home care during this time and the best advice we can give you is to consult first with a professional esthetician, so you have as much certainty as possible regards the outcome. Peels are not one size fits all and your esthetician will review all aspects of your health, lifestyle, skin type, color, and tolerance prior to recommending your peel. Other considerations are age and heredity.
In-conclusion start with a mild exfoliation approach once or twice a month and pay attention to how your skin reacts. If you are looking for skin rejuvenation for aging and photo damaged skin choose ingredients such as Pumpkin Enzyme, to accelerate cell renewal and refine the skins surface. For dry sensitive skin types look for Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Enzymes that has exfoliating properties to help rid the skin of dead skin cells without creating irritation. Lactic Acid is also a gentler alternative to glycolic acid for refining and re-texturizing your skin and Retinol – promotes the exfoliation of dead skin cells and brightens the skin. For oily, acne prone skin Salicylic Acid a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) derived from wintergreen leaves targets acneic skin concerns and provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. And for evening your skin tone Azelaic Acid, derived from potato and unsaturated fatty acids found in milk fats is an effective brightener and Kojic Acid is a natural tyrosinase inhibitor derived from mushrooms that helps to diminish the appearance of uneven skin tone.
For those that would like to step up their exfoliation benefits applying a microdermabrasion cream to clean skin and gently working it into the skin before layering on your enzyme or acid peel solution for five to 10 minutes will give you more advanced results.