Firstly, there are a few different levels of peels:
1: Superficial, 2: Medium, and 3: Deep. All of these levels can help with improving the signs of aging, sun damage, acne, and any extrinsic factors.
1: Superficial peels are what I like to consider very mild peels with a low concentration. They usually contain one of the alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid or glycolic acid. These key ingredients essentially give you a micro-exfoliation-breaking down a thin layer of the stratum corneum (outer most layer of your skin).
2: Medium depth peels tend to have a lower pH resulting in a stronger concentration of acidity. The higher the concentration, the deeper the peel. This could lead to peeling or flaking of the skin. With a series of medium depth peels over time, you can sustain great results in texture and tone. Some common medium depth peels include higher percentages of salicylic, glycolic, lactic acid, and one of my favorites Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA).
3: Deep Peel: Deep peels are known to penetrate the upper dermis. These treatments are normally performed by a physician because of the greater risks and complications they can present. Phenol peels are a common deeper peel which uses a carbolic acid to treat the skin. Deeper peels are best suited for the face with a strong acidity ranging between 30%-70%, the downtime for this treatment can last 2-4 weeks.
To get the most out of a chemical peel it is also important to understand the pre and post peel guidelines. Prior to treatment, clients should avoid the sun and discontinue use of retinol products about two weeks before their treatment. Clients should also avoid waxing, self-tanners, and exfoliating scrubs. After the treatment, clients should use a gentle cleanser and moisturize as needed, in addition to using a broad spectrum sunscreen every day. Increased sun sensitivity, redness, and peeling or flaking of the skin is part of the recovery process and clients should refrain from picking. Following the pre and post chemical peel guidelines can speed up your recovery process.
Overall, chemical peels are not something to be afraid of. They are super effective when treated in a series, and sustain great results with little to no downtime.