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The not so pretty side of chemical peels

Chemexfoliation also known as a Chemical Peel or Derma Peeling is a procedure known to transform skin from its not so perfect state to a smooth, glowing face. Sacrificing a couple of hours, and a couple dollars for clearer skin seems like the perfect transaction, but what are you really risking?

Chemical peels are a procedure that uses a chemical solution to smooth the texture of your skin by removing outer layers that may be damaged. As the solution is applied to the skin it peels and new skin grows in its place. Sounds simple? Well it goes without saying that the after math is quite painful, but what most people don’t know is that the acids used during the procedure can do permanent damage if they aren’t used correctly.

There are three levels of Chemical Peels, superficial, Medium, and Deep. Superficial peels use glycolic acid which exfoliates and breaks down matter that connects dead skin cells under the top layer of the skin. Glycolic acid can cause dry patches or excessively oily skin if the acid isn’t concentrated correctly according to skin pigmentation and intensity of imperfections.

Medium and deep peels are longer procedures which run greater risks of scarring. A deep peel uses Phenol or Trichloroaecetic acid, and requires the patient to be put to sleep and receive an IV being that the acid is highly toxic. The procedure is done in 15 minute intervals catering to each section of the face separately. Something that most people don’t realize is that medium and deep peels are second degree burns and should be treated as such. Upon receiving a chemical peel, if the patient doesn’t take their recovery seriously there can be permanent scarring, and excruciating pain. Just like a regular burn, after the procedure there is swelling of the skin and the patient is given antibiotics to prevent any infection. Failing to take antibiotics and moisturize properly can be detrimental.

Being that the acid used in Deep Peels usually bleaches the skin to some extent, there is an alternative offered to people with darker skin, and that is Salicylic Acid. It has a significant effect on skin cells, and is also used in shampoo. This acid runs the same risks as the others; it just won’t significantly lighten the skin.

Despite the risks if applied correctly a chemical peel can help reduce the visibility of acne, sun damaged skin, age and liver spots, freckles, wrinkles, and irregular skin pigmentation and patches. If you don’t have sensitive skin your skin might be able to benefit from the acids as opposed to harming it more. Just be sure to pick the right doctor, moisturize and stay out of the sun post operation.

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Lauren Stewart
By: Lauren Stewart

Lauren Stewart is a freelancer writer from Michigan. She enjoys writing about beauty, health and fitness! She is passionate about learning new ways to take control of her health and wellness and is a makeup and skincare junkie! You can contact her by emailing