Peel Yourself Pretty: Your Guide To Facial Peels

Beyond cleansing and exfoliating, face masks and moisturisers, there are peels. The in-salon treatment pulls out the big guns to counteract the signs of ageing. Find out all about peels from our Beauty Expert Emma-Charlotte Bangay. 

With so many beauty products and treatments on the market, it can all get a bit confusing. Fear not. Here is your guide to understanding peels, and how they are your best bet to counteracting the ageing process.

What Are Peels?

A peel is a professional strength controlled exfoliation, explains Omniderm Skincare Expert, Sue Dann. “Unlike microdermabrasion or scrubs - which rely on a mechanical action - peels use controlled chemical agents that create a re-surfacing effect.” And the result of a good peel can’t be ignored, adds Laura Mercier National Make-Up Artist, Anne Salem. “Peels are those amazing treatments that can renew the surface of the skin and improve the texture, replacing the old skin with regenerated new skin!” she says. This not only means increased luminosity when make-up free, but also better efficacy of cosmetics on the complexion.

How Do Peels Work?

Peels work by slowly removing the ‘glue’ that naturally binds dead skin cells together on the surface. If this is not done regularly, the skin takes on a flat, washed-out, aged appearance. The antithesis of a 'youthful glow.' The ingredients of peels are designed to sit on the skin surface and gently remove the glue – depending on which peel you have – to reveal the beautiful new skin beneath. But no two peels are the same, explains Sue. “Depending on the agents used, peels can work at different levels within the skin to create customised results.”

  • Very Superficial Peels (VSP) only target dead skin cells and require no downtime or recovery.
  • “Superficial (SP) and medium depth peels (MD) however are designed to target live skin cells for a deeper response,” she adds.
  • AHAs Peels are most suitable for aged and dehydrated conditions.
  • Glycolic Acid Peels which prove twice as exfoliating as lactic acid, “however lactic acid is twice as hydrating,” Sue highlights.
  • “Oil soluble agents such as Mandelic Acid and Salicylic Acid are most suitable for acneic and congested skins.

Types of Peels

  • Enzymatic Peels work by digesting dead skin cells to instantly reveal a smoother looking complexion.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) are absorbed into the skin’s very surface layers where they dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells together and cells are then off by your therapist in an upward motion.
  • Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA’s) are oil-soluble and are absorbed deeper into the skin to exfoliate in a downward and across motion when applied in salon.
  • Herbal Peels work both mechanically and chemically (using natural herbs) to resurface the skin in a downward and upward motion, leaving the skins barrier function intact. This makes them the best option for those wanting to avoid harsh acids.

When Should You Start Peels?

“Peels are not for young skin, and shouldn't be introduced under 18 years,” Anne urges. Beginning peels too early can prove to be a hindrance in the long-term as they disrupt the natural skin barrier.

What Are The Post-Peel Care Rules?

“Skin flaking that occurs two-three days post-peel is the sign of a deeper treatment,” explains Sue. “Some consumers may experience light grazing or scabbing as a result of the more intensive treatment.” Deep Peels (DP) are medical only and are performed by a cosmetic doctor or dermatologist, explains Sue. “As laser technology has developed over the last 20 years, these very aggressive peels are very rarely performed due to associated risks involved."

How Often Should You Peel?

Each peeling agent has a different frequency of application based on the depth they work. Very Superficial Peels may be performed every 7-14 days, Superficial every 2-4 weeks and Medium Depth every 4-12 weeks. Herbal peels can be performed monthly, assures Sue.

The At-Home Peel

Alpha Hydroxy Acid, or AHA’s, are naturally occurring acids, and can be found in foods such as sugar cane, tomato juice, or sour milk, explains Anne. “A personal favourite of mine is waiting for natural yogurt to turn sour, (lactic acid) then applying a layer onto my face, waiting for it to dry and wash it off to reveal bright skin!”

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