The summer is approaching and now more than ever skin care is getting a lot easier and affordable for many people. A great way to feel better this summer; in addition to treating skin conditions, is a common and increasingly popular procedure known as the chemical skin peel. The procedure is simple and could be done at home with the right instructions. First you apply the caustic substance to your skin, and a burning sensation is felt as the peel burns and sloughs away dead skin cells by removing outer layers of the skin(epidermis), allowing your new skin underneath to grow forth. Of course, there are some chemical peels that go even further into the skin, such as the dermis. This procedure may sound extremely painful and damaging to your skin, but if you know what you are doing or if you have a dermatologist do it for you then the result is a safe skin make over.

Chemical peeling is done not only to heal your condition but also to remove blemished, sun-damaged, freckled and just plain damaged skin. It does this in order to replace it with younger and healthier skin, and is really the most effective way to get great skin in a short period of time. The alternatives to achieving this without chemical peels would be frustrating; for example, Accutane (which I have used) takes about 6 months to see any results and this is after extreme drying of the skin and an entire set of other possible side effects that people really shouldn’t put themselves at risk for. Furthermore there is Retin-A Micro, or Retin-A, and this is technically a concentrated dose of Vitamin A for the skin. Retin-A is a very effective formula for sloughing and removing dead skin cells in the epidermis, but the process is agonizingly slow…almost to the point of irritation. Therefore, Chemical Peels are the best choice for getting better skin before an event, vacation, or just to see a quick drastic improvement. Peels are more expensive to do at a dermatologist or skin care specialist but can be done at home for less than half the price. There are 4 groups of Chemical Peels and ultimately they vary from light to light-oil based, medium, and then deep.

The mildest and lightest of all the peels is the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and they are usually the ones you will find in stores, if you are looking in the skincare section. Mostly they derive from sugar, and they include the common and generally known ones such as glycolic, lactic, and malic acids. The good thing about them is that there is a minimal downtime; downtime meaning the healing, peeling, and turnover of the skin after the peel procedure is completed. You can have an esthetician do them or you can do them at home, but be cautious if you are to do them at home because there have been many cases of people not knowing how to use them and ending up burning or scarring themselves. Therefore, if you are to do it at home I recommend a website called Makeup Artists Choice (MUAC), it has many peel kits and great instructions for a safe process. In getting back to discussing light skin peels, I want to add that more than one peel is usually required, for example if you are going to do a Glycolic Peel, it would be 6-8 treatments with one treatment being done a week. Typically AHAs are creams and liquids that could be applied safely without any significant worries. Overall the best benefit of them is the fact that they are great for pigmentation problems, unbalanced skin tones, sun spots, and superficial conditions.

Another famous household chemical peel is BHA or as many people know it, Beta Hydroxy Acids. The only really BHA is salicylic acid, and you could find it in almost any over the counter skin treatment in a variety of brands and forms, such as in Oil of Olay, Proactiv, Stridex, and in creams, oils, or topical gels. Beta Hydroxy Acids are still in the light peel category but they are oil soluble and this generally means that they can be effective at cleaning and removing bacteria and oil from the pores. This is why the majority of acne products contain salicylic acid, because it is extremely helpful at removing bacteria and oil, but the downside is that it could also dry out the skin if over used. I would say the best skin type for BHAs is very oily skin with white heads and blackheads, and this is because this skin is more prone to building bacteria and unhealthy oil.

One of the stronger types of peels that has a significantly longer downtime is the TCA peel, or Trichloroacetic Acid. The downtime usually takes up to 10 days as this gives time for your “old skin cells” to be shedded from the peel process. I find TCA to be much more drastic when it comes to improving appearance, but of course the negative is waiting 10 days with little to no sun exposure and dead skin cells literally peeling off. Of course the depth of your wanted results determines the length of the downtime. But keep in mind that with the downtime comes longer lasting results and the treatment of more skin conditions as it goes deeper than AHAs and goes deep into the dermis. TCA peels are not only used to treat wrinkles, fine lines, potent sun damage, and loose skin, but also decrease the appearance of tattoos by lightening them over time. Basically a TCA peel has the combined benefits of a BHA and AHA peel but with longer lasting effects.

The strongest of the peels is typically one I wouldn’t do but many people have done with great results, and that is the Phenol peel. Their the deepest chemical peels on the planet and come with a long list of lasting and permanent effects such as its permanent pigmentation bleaching effect. It has bleaching properties and can change your skin for the better, but the reason I would not really recommend them is for all the negative properties. Phenol is known to be toxic, and could affect your heart rate and function. Also, in order to use a Phenol peel you would have to go under anesthesia and under the care of a doctor, in addition to having extensive care afterwards and a long healing process. However, I would recommend it to someone who wants a last resort and has done thorough research. If an individual wants to use a phenol peel, they should be diligent and do their research as well as give it a great amount of thought such as one would give to any life altering procedures like cosmetic surgery; although phenol peels aren’t as dramatic as cosmetic surgery.

In short, TCA peels seem to be the best solution for someone wanting to remove a significant amount of skin problems and has about two weeks set aside for the process. But if you want a quicker peel with no downtime, and that can achieve great results in about a month then the second best solution would be Alpha Hydroxy Acids. Despite the peel you use, a sun protective lotion anywhere between SPF-15 to SPF-30 is needed to avoid sun damage to your new skin.