My skin has always been somewhat of a nagging disappointment. I recognize that it could be worse, but it’s never quite cooperated and reached that smooth, creamy complexion I wish it could have. Anyone else?
I’m also the type of person who, when I see a photo of myself, obsesses over all those little blemishes and how much better I’d look without them.
So when my family gave my mother-in-law the gift of a family photoshoot last year, I started to do what I’ve always done. Behind my smile, I panicked silently about having my photo taken with my skin looking like a splotchy mess.
The difference is that this time I did something about it: I got a chemical peel. Here’s my story.
What Does a Chemical Peel Do?
If you aren’t familiar, a chemical peel is a type of skin exfoliation that’s been around for ages. I’m not exaggerating – there’s evidence of chemical peel-like treatments from the early days of ancient Egypt.
During a chemical peel, a dermatologist, aesthetician, or other provider applies a chemical solution to your skin. It’s usually applied to the face, but you can get a peel on almost any area of your body.
Those chemicals penetrate the outer layers of your skin: the layers that are most damaged by sun exposure and aging. In the coming days, those outer layers will start to peel the same way you peel from a severe sunburn. When the damaged layers are gone, you’re left with smoother, younger skin.
Why I Chose a Chemical Peel
On the surface, a chemical peel may not sound appealing. I mean, you’re essentially putting mild acid on your face.
Thankfully I was working for a medical spa at the time, so I knew the basics.
When I heard about the family photoshoot, I went to my aesthetician and pointed out everything I disliked about my skin: the sun damage, the uneven complexion, the acne scars. Because all my issues were in the superficial layers of my skin and the aesthetician knew that I didn’t have time in my schedule for a lengthy healing period, she suggested a chemical peel.
Before I go further, allow me to clarify: chemical peels aren’t only for mild issues. Aestheticians can customize the chemical solutions they use, do a series of treatments, or make other modifications to get more powerful results. That’s why peels are popular for 20somethings and 60somethings alike.
What It’s Like to Get a Chemical Peel
Fast forward to the day of my treatment, and I’m ready to hit the ground running.
When I arrived at the medical spa, my aesthetician started by cleansing my skin. She explained that she was using a mild solution on my skin so I wouldn’t need any topical numbing. If you’re considering a chemical peel and you’re worried about whether it will hurt, your aesthetician may be able to start with numbing cream.
The peel itself was incredibly simple. The aesthetician applied one thin layer of the chemical concoction and gave it about five minutes to work its magic. Then she applied a second layer and gave it another ten minutes or so.
This is the first question everyone has about a chemical peel: did it hurt? In all honesty, no it didn’t, and I was a tad disappointed. I gave myself an entire pep talk before I walked in. You know, “It’ll all be worth it,” “You’re a beautiful warrior,” “It’ll be over before you know it,” the works.
All I felt was a mild heat on my skin and a bit of tingling. At that point, I was actually worried that the peel wouldn’t do anything and I wouldn’t see any results. I’m glad to say that I was wrong.
After those last ten minutes, the aesthetician removed the chemical solution and applied a peptide cream. This cream was yellow, and I mean seriously yellow. I got my fair share of odd looks on the train ride home.
The Peeling Process
I scheduled my peel for a Thursday, knowing that I was working from home that Friday and could deal with the peeling at home for the next few days. I’m so glad I did.
Over the next 24 hours or so, my skin started turning red under that yellow peptide cream. By Friday, it felt like I had a sunburn on my face. It was a noticeable discomfort, but nothing that stopped me from working and enjoying my Friday.
Then the peeling started, and as weird as I may have looked, I was thrilled! My fears from the painless procedure were gone: I really was going to see results!
Most of my peeling happened on Sunday and Monday. As odd as it may sound, I loved to watch the peeling process because I could see the smoother, clearer skin beneath. By the Wednesday after my peel, I was fresh-faced and loving it!
Making the Most of a Chemical Peel
Without a doubt, getting a great result from your chemical peel starts with finding the perfect provider to treat you. Part of your results will also depend on you, though.
On top of following your provider’s instructions, like avoiding sun exposure, you need to know how to care for your skin after a chemical peel.
In the weeks after your peel (while you’re peeling and beyond), you need to be gentle with your skin. You don’t want to irritate and inflame it further. Instead of a harsh cleanser that aims to get rid of everything and anything, opt for a gentler choice like the SkinMedica Sensitive Skin Cleanser.
Another crucial part of your peel is keeping your skin hydrated. Not all moisturizers are great for delicate post-procedure skin, though. Look for creams that are specifically created for post-procedure skin, like Glytone’s Recovery Cream.
If you’re the “go big or go home” type, I hear you. To truly make the most of your chemical peel results, take it a step further with Avene’s full post-procedure recovery kit. It has everything you need to make sure that renewed skin can thrive.
So, the ultimate verdict on chemical peels: worth it! If you can deal with a few days of peeling and you’re willing to give your skin the extra care it needs, a peel could be the perfect way for you to get glowing skin for your next photo op like I did.