Types of Peels (And How Often Should You Do Them?)
The most commonly known are chemical or mechanical peels, and these vary in intensity.
Chemical – The trend for regular home peels using a mild dose of acids (such as AHAs and BHAs) has been around for a while. Non-acid enzyme peels, derived from fruits and plants, are also gaining in popularity. These are a lot milder and suitable for regular use without much side effects.
How Frequently: For enzyme and non-acid enzyme peels, thrice a week. Acids with an extremely low concentration (in the form of toners or blended into cleansers) can be used daily.
Mechanical – Traditionally performed only in salons, these have also been gaining popularity especially with the launch of Clarisonic and similar home-use technology. Electronic devices help remove dead skin cells, akin to “polishing” the skin to gradually remove epidermal tissues.
How Frequently: Once or twice a week. Alternate between enzyme/acid home peels and mechanical ones. If you’ve had your skin peeled in a salon, do not use mechanical peels at home.
Both are effective in maintaining the brightness and clarity of the skin, depending on the regime that follows.
Chemical – These vary from “lunchtime peels” to stronger deep peels (akin to controlled second-degree burns). The former can be done by trained aestheticians while the latter only by dermatologists.
Lunchtime Peels or Superficial Peels use AHAs, or other mild acids such as Lactic Acids to penetrate only the outer layer of the skin to gently exfoliate it. It is recommended for mild skin discolouration, dull and rough skin on the face, hands and body. Some equipment combine both acids with high-velocity jets (i.e. Aqua peel) to dissolve and vacuum dead skin cells to remove the impurities.
How Frequently – Depending on your skin, you can do this up to once a week or fortnight for a few sessions. Subsequently, do it once every two months for maintenance or as advised
Medium to Deep Peels – This uses acids in stronger concentrations to deeply penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to remove damaged skin cells. It stimulates the production of new skin cells and is able to target various skin conditions like lesions and wrinkles. There is downtime with this treatment and requires proper post-treatment care.
How Frequently – Depending on the strength, some needs to be done only once in your life. Some ot hers, you can do once every two to three years depending on the type of peel and your skin condition.
Mechanical Peels – Commonly known as Microdermabrasion, these use micro-particles to “polish” the skin to remove dead skin cells. This enhances cell turnover and results in invisibly brighter skin. An alternative to using microparticles such as diamond tips, some salons/clinics uses ultrasonic waves to “scrub” the skin’s stratum corner. These light abrasions can improve dull skin, light acne scars and improve the appearance of fine lines.
How Frequently – Once a month
Fractional Skin Resurfacing (Ablative Technology) – Uses Radio Frequency (or Laser technology) and micro needling. These remove the surface layer of the skin, allowing focused light energy / radio frequency waves to reach the epidermis and the dermis to stimulate cell regeneration. This is generally the most expensive, requires downtime and proper post-treatment care but is able to improve the appearance of acne scars, deep wrinkles, enlarged pores etc.
How Frequently – Depends on age and skin concerns. Clients with saggy skins require more sessions for collagen remodelling (once every 3 weeks for a few sessions before maintenance mode of once every 6 months). For younger skin, the treatment can be done every 6 to 12 months, as long as it is combined with other treatments.
The contraindications differ from equipment to equipment, and product to product. Generally, clients who have diabetes, eczema-prone skin, or on medication that thins the skin or impairs repairs should not go for peels. Their bodies are not able to repair themselves normally. Also, for clients with hyper-sensitive or thinner skin, certain treatments may not be suitable as they increase the risk of infection.
Clients with Rosacea, who are currently pregnant, immune-impaired, prone to keloids/scarring or on antibiotics such as Roaacutane should not go for chemical peels. Also, those with infections/skin diseases or generally poor health should also avoid intense chemical peels as the acids in the solutions cause greater risks of inflammation.
For sensitive and eczema skin types, gentler peels are possible. Check in with your skincare professional.
Finally, mechanical peels are better for clients with darker skin tones instead of chemical peels.
Can Peels Cause Scarring?
Home care peels don’t have that risk although generally, all peels have a risk of scarring, infection and discoloration. This risk increases as the peel goes deeper or if used in higher concentrations. Chemical peels and fractional skin resurfacing have a risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (or PIH), where the client may result in darker patches of the skin. However, this will heal over time depending on your age and the treatments you do to speed up recovery. Proper home care and post-treatment regime are crucial to mitigate the risk of infection and scarring.
Can Peels Cause Sebum Over Production & For Skin To Become More Prone to Acne?
In fact, no. Some of the peels such as Salicylic are designed to aid acne-prone skin. With regular non-aggressive peels, you are stimulating cell turnover, removing dead skin cells and preventing build-up in your pores. These reduce the development of acne.
Ingredients to Avoid After Peels
For gentle home-care peels, or quick lunchtime peels, we recommend sunscreen as the skin is more susceptible to UV damage. Adequate hydration is also important to help cellular turnover. A lack of hydration may cause the development of fine lines and other issues.
For more aggressive peels, we do not recommend use of retinoids, acids, benzoyl peroxide, harsh cleansers as your skin needs time to heal. Avoid harsh exfoliators and home-peels as well. If you had taken Roaacutane in the past 12 to 18 months, you should also avoid peels.
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