Autumn Exfoliation and Chemical Peels
Throughout the summer, our skin “toughens up” with exposure to the sun, building up a layer of dead skin. In addition, the residue for all our sunscreen acts a barrier preventing our products from penetrating the skin. So now that the sun is not beating down on us, it’s a good time to think about exfoliating our skin and/or trying a chemical peel.
Proper exfoliation gently uncovers the fresh new cells below. This opens the way for moisturizers to penetrate more deeply. For healthy glowing skin, regular exfoliation really is a must. There are so many options for exfoliating scrubs, but opt for ones of higher quality, with jojoba oil, and vitamins, and hyaluronic acid. Beauty Riche has a list of options for you to choose from.
If you have dry skin, here is how exfoliation can really help. Focus on the rough, dry patches of skin. Concentrate on those areas, exfoliating on the places where your complexion is especially dull, flaky or uneven. Gently exfoliate in upward, circular motions. Don’t be heavy handed! A little goes a long way.
If you have frail capillaries, apply a face oil or serum prior to using your scrub to act as an extra layer of protection for your skin. And if you notice sensitivity or redness, exfoliate less often.
Exfoliating brushes, such as Clarisonic, are also a great option. Be sure to keep a close eye on how your skin reacts though, and cut back on use should you see irritation or redness.
Follow up with a hydrating moisturizer after exfoliating. I recommend face oils and serums after exfoliation. As always, choose products that work from the inside out, penetrating all the way to the lipid barrier. Effective face oils and serums can replenish the lipid barrier to create softer, smoother, more hydrated skin.
If you are acne prone, stay away from rough physical scrubs, which can contribute to breakouts. Chemical versions — such as a face wash made with hydroxy acids like glycolic or salicylic acid remove grime and penetrate oil to break down pore-clogging dead skin cells. Charcoal or clay masks also absorb excess oil.
If you have sensitive skin, gritty scrubs are definately a no-no, but most people can benefit from a mild, short-contact exfoliating product. Consider a cleanser or toner rich in fruit or plant enzymes.
Don’t use a body scrub! Body scrubs often have harsher, larger granules, made to even out the thicker, tougher skin below the neck.
Now… a chemical peel can also be a nice (and stronger) option to get rid of that layer of dead skin cells. There are different types of chemical peels, based on the type and strength of the chemical used and how long it is applied.
Superficial or light peels are the gentlest type of peels. They remove the top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, and can give your skin and instantly brighter look as well as a smoother, more even texture. They can be used to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, mild acne scarring, age spots, dry or flaking skin. They are typically made from alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. Fruit enzymes and acids from natural sources such as pumpkins, cranberries and pineapples are also seen in these peels. A course of between six and 10 treatments is usually recommended to achieve the best results. Superficial peels do not hurt, you only feel a slight tingling or stinging sensation, and have virtually no recovery time. You can be a little bit pink afterwards and may get some mild flaking of the skin but this can be disguised with make-up. With a superficial peel no one would know you had had the treatment done.
Medium depth peels give more dramatic results than superficial peels. TCA (trichloroacetic acid) is typically used as this penetrates deeper into the skin. It treats more obvious sun damage, pigmentation and wrinkles. The downside of medium peels is that you will have a longer recovery and more side effects. You may feel more discomfort during the treatment than you would with a superficial peel including burning and stinging. Your face can become swollen, pink and itchy following treatment and you will get more ‘peeling’. You can also get patches of brown pigmentation during the healing process and in rare cases you can get scarring from medium depth peels. Generally, recovery takes around a week but your skin can be pink for up to six weeks afterwards.
Deep peels are the strongest type of chemical peel available and can achieve amazing results for sun damage, scarring and deep lines and wrinkles but this should only be done in the hands of a qualified physician with plenty of experience. Carbolic Acid is commonly the agent used. For some people it can take up to two weeks before they want to go out in public. The most common problem associated with deep peels are patches of hypopigmentation, which can be permanent. There is also a risk of scarring. Because of the risks associated with deep peels, it is incredibly important you find an experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon to carry out the treatment.
Look for these ingredients if you want a nice home chemical peel…
Glycolic acid is the most common peeling agent. It comes in different strengths (30% – 90%) and different levels of acidity which will determine how deep it penetrates and how much peeling you get. It can be used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, improvement of skin texture, skin brightening.
Salicylic acid is unique amongst the hydroxy acids in that it can penetrate deeper into the oil glands causing exfoliation even in the oily areas of the face and scalp, making it ideal for treating acne and oily skin.
Lactic acid is less irritating than other AHAs and has a natural moisturizing effect on the skin. It is ideal for skin brightening. It can be used to treat pigmentation, dry or dehydrated skin, sensitive skin, rosacea.
Fruit enzymes can also be used as peeling agents. Commonly used fruit enzymes come from fruits such as papaya, pineapple, pumpkin and cranberry. They are anti-bacterial, promote cell renewal and can digest oil from spots (sebum) and dead skin. They can be used to treat acne, rosacea, dehydrated skin, hyper reactive and sensitive skin.
Tartaric acid comes from grapes and is a less irritating alternative to glycolic acid for a milder exfoliation of the skin. It can also help increase hydration. It can be used to treat acne, photo damage, rosacea, superficial pigmentation, eczema.
Malic acid comes from apples and pears and like tartaric acid is a weaker AHA than glycolic acid. It can be used to treat acne, photo damage, rosacea, superficial pigmentation, eczema. Citric acid comes from lemons and oranges and works in the same way as tartaric and malic acids. It can be used to treat acne, photo damage, rosacea, superficial pigmentation, eczema.
Hopefully I have given you some good information as you are choosing which exfoliant or chemical peel might work best for you. As a rule of thumb with these agents, start off gently and see how you do. You can work your way into stronger options knowing how your skin will react.
Hope you have a great week!