A few years ago I went to my aesthetician because I was suffering from a bad breakout. I assumed I was immune to blemishes since I never had to deal with these issues as a teen. Not only did I need to treat the breakout, but I had leftover purple marks I was looking to get rid of. The aesthetician suggested IPLs which I had already tried, and they are super expensive and only helped temporarily. She she also recommended other things that I could do at home that weren’t invasive: lunchtime chemical peels, derma-rollering, serums, and LED light therapy. I would space them out so that my skin had time to heal in between each session.
Before I continue, I’m not a doctor or a dermatologist. I recommend if you’re going to try chemical peels that you speak with a specialist first, or use at your own risk.
- Week 1: chemical peel
- Week 2: break
- Week 3: derma-rolling
- Week 4: break
I would use the LED light a few days a week since that involves no adjusting to your skin. In the next few weeks I will be discussing my experience with derma-rolling and LED light therapy—stay tuned!
Chemical Peels 101
A chemical peel improves the overall appearance of your skin by applying a solution that causes the top layer to peel off. The regenerated skin has an improved texture. There are three different types; superficial/lunchtime, medium, and deep. They range from no downtown to invasive. The type of peel I do at home is considered superficial and would typically cost between $150 - $300 dollars in a spa setting.
What I bought:
DIY Lunchtime Peel
The Sample Pack came with seven various 3.7ml peels and Salicylic Deep Gel Cleanser needed to prep your skin. It also included instructions on how to apply along with an explanation for what each peel is used for.
The peels are separated into two levels. Level 1 is weak (Pineapple Pumpkin Enzyme Peel, Glycolic 30%), and level 2 (Lactic 50%, TCA 15%, Salicylic 20%, Glycolic 50%) is a little stronger. Each vial has about 4-6 applications. The sample pack is designed so you can try each and determine which one you like best so you can then purchase a full size bottle if you choose.
I started with the Pineapple Pumpkin Enzyme Peel because it sounded the least scariest. I tested the peel on the inside of my wrist to make sure I wouldn’t have an allergic reaction, which is rare—but, better safe than sorry. This peel is used for exfoliation and eliminates dead skin cells, refines pores, and increases the production of collagen. It consists of natural fruit enzymes and AHA’s and it’s the weakest of all peels.
I followed the instructions on the card, but also took the advice of my aesthetician, and I do my peels at night so I don’t have to spend the day indoors.
Here's My Process
Step 1: Wash my face with the Salicylic gel cleanser in warm water and pat it dry.
Step 2: Make my neutralizing solution: 1 part baking soda, and 4 parts water. Then mix and set aside. The reason for using baking soda is that helps to neutralize the peel and restore PH balance.
Step 3: Apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad and rub on my face. This makes sure that there are no oils left on my skin that would block the peel from penetrating.
Step 5: Set my timer for the suggested 30 seconds (the recommended amount of time for a first time peel).
Step 6: Start at my forehead and apply the solution working downwards, ending at my chin. I avoid the area around my eyes and lips. I add a little more of the peel to my brush as I go along.
Step 7: The timer goes off just as I’m finishing.
Step 8: I take a cotton pad and dip it in the neutralizing solution and gently press it on my forehead. I work my way down the same way I applied the peel.
Step 9: Rinse my skin with cool water to close my pores.
Step 10: While skin is still damp I apply Hyaluronic Acid serum which helps to rehydrate my skin; this is needed even more so after a peel since it dries it out.
Step 11: I then follow with a gentle moisturizer.
Since my first peel, I’ve tried all of them and I can say they’ve changed my skin tone and texture tremendously. Out of the seven peels, the only one where I had skin peeling was the Glycolic 50% Gel Peel. Since this is one of the strongest in the sample pack (level 2), I left it on for only one minute. Three days later my skin peeled, but it wasn’t noticeable. A week later my skin was tight and glowing, and my pores were smaller. The more I do peels the better my skin looks. My complexion has become more even, brighter, and clearer; it looks like years have been taken off my skin. One of the reasons I love the sample pack is that no matter what issue I'm facing—breakouts, leftover acne marks, dullness—there’s a peel I have at my fingertips.
What if you’re taking acne medication?
You shouldn‘t do a chemical peel if you’re taking prescription acne medication such as Accutane, or if you’re using topical medications like Differen, Retin A, Refissa, and Tazorac.
What about retinol products?
I avoid using them a week prior and don’t use for one week post peel.
What other products should you not use?
Any acid type product (besides the Salicylic Deep Gel Cleanser that comes in the pack) for 48 hours prior to doing a peel.
Are there any skin conditions a peel shouldn’t be done on?
Yes. Sunburns, broken skin, eczema, rashes, Rosacea, scars, sensitive skin, or waxed skin.
How long can you leave it on?
For the first time I applied it for 30 seconds. The second time I increased to another 30 seconds and increased each time by adding 30 second intervals. I‘ve never left it on for more than four minutes. If you see frosting (skin turning white) remove immediately.
How does your skin feel during the peel?
Tingly and uncomfortable.
What about after?
It feels a little tight and dry for the first few days (some peels more so than others). Also, I don’t exfoliate for a week after.
What about the sun?
I do my peels at night and make sure to apply SPF 50 during the day. I avoid being in direct sunlight for a week after.
Do you wear makeup or workout after your peel?
Depending on the type of peel, I avoid makeup and the gym for at least 24 hours. The following day if I go to the gym after having done a level 2 peel, my skin gets itchy and tingly when I start to sweat. If I do the stronger peels, I’ll skip the gym for two days.
Are their risks with chemical peels?
Yes, you can read about them here.
Disclaimer: The advice suggested in this article is based on my research, from my own personal experiences and talking with experts. Please be advised that I’m not a medical doctor or professional in the field.
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