Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
Let’s talk some chemistry today. Wait, it’s not the kind you had at school, this one gives you tons of benefits and sexy skin. A-ha now I have your attention!
Assuming you’ve heard of facial chemical peels before, or even if you haven’t, in today’s hangout, I want to tell you everything you need to know about it. The process, the benefits of chemical peels, all the different types and how to do it safely in the comfort of your home.
Finding the Right Chemical Peel
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: Exfoliants are not the same as chemical peels. They do tend to peel a certain amount of dead skin cells, but exfoliants have a higher pH, and a lower amount of overall acid inside the product. This means that they will cleanse your skin, but not as thorough as chemical peels as they won’t penetrate as deep into the layers of your skin.
[Read: Chemical Vs. Physical Exfoliates]
Just keep in mind that chemical peels are stronger than manual exfoliants thus they require utmost care when handling at home. Now, moving onto chemical peels, all the varieties and the chemistry behind them:
Namely, a chemical peel needs to have a pH of around 2.0. In fact, precisely 2.0 is the way to go, because the higher the pH, the lower the effectiveness of that product will be. In addition to the 2.0 pH, each chemical peel consists of different acids as a proprietary ingredient inside. For instance, you can have a 2.0 pH chemical peel made of a 5% Mandelic acid.
Now, the higher the pH gets, the less active those 5% will be. Thus you won’t be getting the full effect of the peel. Speaking of Mandelic acid, let me tell you all the different acids that you can find in chemical peels, what they are good for, and how to choose the right one for your skin type.
Benefits of At-Home Chemical Peels
This acid is derived from sugar cane, and it has the smallest molecule of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid group (AHA’s). What this tells you is that it can penetrate deeply and right into your pores, effectively dissolving the glue that binds dead cells together. After using it, you can expect a complete cleanse of blocked pores, blackheads, faded dark spots and an even, deep exfoliation.
The great thing about it is that Glycolic acid has a cumulative effect meaning that with frequent uses is stimulates collagen, decreases fine lines, minimizes the pores and improves the texture of the skin significantly.
If you want to start using Glycolic acid, a good mixture would be a pH of 2.0 and a 30-40% acid concentration. You can increase up to 50% after a while, however, do not go higher than 60-70% ever! Remember that little goes a long way and the skin of your face is extremely sensitive and hard to heal from such damage.
Coming from Willow bark, it is the sole star of the Beta Hydroxy Acid group (BHA). This acid is mostly recommended for oily skin because it is fat soluble. It’s attracted to the fats and made to dissolve them effectively, breaking down lipids and oils (sebum). It gets right into your pores which is why it’s mostly recommended if you are struggling with acne.
What you can expect is clean pores, a pimple/ whiteheads-free skin, greatly reduced acne scarrings and an overall oil balance of the skin, which means that your skin won’t continue overproducing oil. After a while, you will notice that the inflammation will decrease as well, and the redness around your acne will be gone too. As far as the concentration goes, with a 2.0 pH get a 15% Salicylic acid, working your way up to 30% throughout a few months.
Mandelic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid derived from bitter almonds. It is considered to be gentler than most of the acids out there and is recommended for people with sensitive skin. Do not worry though, although gentler, this acid still penetrates your pores profoundly and removes all dirt, oil, and problem-causing dead cells. By using 15-25% of it you can expect acne-free skin, an even tone free of discolorations and hyperpigmentation, but what’s so great about it is its collagen boosting properties.
Namely, Mandelic acid works wonders for wrinkles and fine lines with its strong anti-aging properties; it works to accelerate cell turnover by dissolving the tiny bonds that hold skin cells together, helping to remove dead skin on the surface of the skin that can lead to dull complexions as well as fine lines. It also strengthens collagen, one of the building blocks of the skin’s support network that gives it youthful firmness. Sound pretty swell, doesn’t it?
Ah, those clever Egyptians. Remember Cleopatra and her famous milk baths? Well, no wonder they all had strong, glowing skins. The usage of Lactic acid made all the difference. This acid is derived from (sour) milk and is known for its skin softening abilities. It is part of the Alpha Hydroxy group, and it works by breaking down the ‘glue’ between skin cells, causing them to slough off and reveal the newer, shinier, healthier skin underneath.
Brighter, firmer skin, free of scarrings and uneven tone is just a Lactic acid away. If you have sensitive skin or you’re afraid to start peeling strongly at first, start with Lactic acid. Glycolic acid may be too harsh for you, in the beginning, so Lactic is the right choice because it works on the surface of the skin.
Citric acid peels are done with an acid that has been derived from the citrus fruits. If you struggle with sensitive skin and want to reverse all the damage done to the surface of it, this is your best choice. You see, citric acid peels are extremely easy to use making them the great beginner’s acid.
Furthermore, they are minimally invasive and work gently on the surface of the skin removing oils, dead cells, sebum, blackheads, acne, and scars too. However, note that it may take you many treatments to see significant improvement in the skin, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Patience is the key to glowing skin, after all.
Malic acid falls into the same category as the Citric acid, and the peeling process is nearly the same – mildly invasive and requires several treatments to get significant results. However, if you have sensitive skin that requires your care and attention, then I recommend trying this gentle acid at first. It does improve the quality of the skin greatly, so when you feel your skin is ready for a bigger challenge, you can move onto a stronger, more intense peeling with another acid.
The treatment with Malic acid will give your skin cleanse against acne; it will open your pores to extract the sebum out and then close them again to prevent dirt accumulation once again. Clear skin, free of blemishes, not bad for starters, ha?
Derived from grapes, this acid is in the same family as the rest of the citric acids which means that it’s perfect for sensitive skin. The goal of these milder acids isn’t only to cause peeling, but it’s the infusion of ingredients in the skin that will diminish lines, build collagen, and improve tone overall.
You need to use it more often, once a week, for several months (depending on the seriousness of your skin issues) to see improvements. What you can expect is a reduction of acne, minimization of pores and improved elasticity and glow. Use concentrations of 20-50% with a 2.0 pH for best results.
The Phytic peel is a very safe and effective agent for treating various pigmentary dyschromias like melasma in dark skin among other skin problems. It is an alpha hydroxy peel with a low pH for efficiency; it also does not need neutralization, and therefore the danger of over peeling is avoided.
Generally, Phytic acid peels are applied once a week but can be repeated twice a week when a more stimulative effect is required. Five to six peel sessions are needed to achieve lightening. The recommended concentration should be about 10-30% of the acid with the 2.0 pH. I would suggest starting low, working your way up as your skin feels best.
And this concludes our chemistry class for now. I’m sure you enjoyed it more than any before and you have gathered enough useful information to make your skin glowing as new in less than a month (just in time for the NY).
One last thing before the bell rings: At-home chemical peels are a safe alternative to in-office chemical peels which home users can use to obtain smoother, younger-looking and more even colored skin for those who do not want to or can not afford to get a peel from a physician or dermatologist.
Remember that consistency is what matters and a peel done once every week or two can give amazing results, and it might take up to 4 or 6 peels to get visible results.
I Wish You A Happy And Safe Peeling,