After a long hiatus, Acid 101 is back, baby!!!!
Today we’re getting deeper into the acid trip 😏 and talking about superficial chemical peels!! I was originally going to cover all the peels (including medium + deep)… but shit was getting a little too long so I truncated it. At any rate, that saves me some effort for the next few weeks I reckon #lazybitch 😎
I’ve loved using acids in my skincare routine for a few years now, and I especially love chemical peels! They’re really fascinating to me…the fact that they have literally changed my skin certainly helps! I actually went through the effort of taking supplimentary seminars to learn more about chemical peels while I was in Esthetician school. I’m proud to say that I’m NYS certified as an Acid Specialist!! So yes, I can legally throw acid on people faces… but only for beautification purposes, I promise!! 😂
I originally wrote most of this post (and the next few…) as a handy guide for myself and potential clients; I was going to start doing mobile acid peels in NYC but I never got it off the ground 🙍🏽♀️ Most of the information henceforth provided is via knowledge I’ve acquired in my many hous of study + research from my courses, seminar literature, and technical books (aka my textbook from school 😂). Also, this will be a more technical post than usual. I’ll break stuff down the best way I can though! I promise to sprinkle some of my usual gifs and crass language throughout as well 😉
I’ll also add some helpful links at the end so you can do some additional reading on your own if you like! Or, y’know (as always), #googleisyourfriend 😏
First, a little background on chemical peels in general…
Chemical peels are acidic solutions (FYI…acids are water based solutions with a pH between 1 and 6.9) that renew skin by rapidly removing layers of dead skin cells from your epidermis (that’s the scientific name for your upper layers of skin). Basically, peels trigger your base skin cells to push up new skin to the top layer of your epidermis–revealing new, baby butt smooth skin. They also help improve common issues like:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Uneven texture
- Icepick scars
- …and more! (won’t remove shifty fuck boys from your life though)
So if you’re struggling to heal/get rid of any of these issues (except for fuck boys…good luck with that!), you might be a great candidate for a chemical peel!
So onwards to superficial peels! Huzzah!!!
Superficial peels are any acid solution (usually between 12% to 50% acid concentration) that rapidly sloughs off dead layers of the upper layer of the skin. I keep saying “rapidly” because your skin naturally sheds slowly in a process called desquamation. It happens a little bit everyday! You basically get a whole new layer of skin cells every 28 days because of it! but sometimes you want/need to speed that process up a little bit….That’s where chemical peels come in.
Superficial peels are usually offered in a treatment series of 4-8 peels, with one administered (ideally by an esthetician, cosmetologist, or dermatologist) every 1-2 weeks until the end of the series. Depending on the acid(s) used, a minimun of 6 treatments are usually recommended to get the best results. Many people choose to do either a monthly or quarterly peel for maintenance after their initial treatment series to…well…maintain their results over time. If you have severe hyperpigmentation or other deep seated issues, one treatment series might not be enough, so more than one treatment series would be beneficial for the best possible outcome. Usually 2-3 superfical peel series can be perfomed safely within a calender year (Your mileage may vary and all that shit).
So what kind of acids are used for superficial peels? Our old friends Alpha Hydroxy Acids (such as mandelic, glycolic, and lactic) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (salicylic acid) of course! Both acid classes can be used for superficial and medium peels actually! So what’s the difference you say? A superficial peel does not require as much (if any at all) recovery time as the other two types of peels; making them ideal for anyone who doesn’t have time for potentially lengthy post peel aftercare timeframes.
Fun fact: dependng on the formulation, four to six superficial peels can have the same result as one medium-depth peel, without any of the (potential) side-effects or extended down time! Also, unlike medium + deeper peels, superficial peels aren’t usually painful for most people! You can expect a mild tingling to juuuust short of a burning sensation upon application (depending on your sensitivity/pain threshold level of course). That may be why supercicial peels have become so popular (and definitely more accessible and desirable) for all the people!
So besides tingling, what else can you expect from a superficial peel? I know you might be wondering about chunks of skin falling off your face (like with those gnarly foot peeling masks…if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it if you dare)…but that kind of dramatic peeling isn’t common with this low grade peel. You might not actually see visible peeling with a superficial peel until you hit higher % levels or use a solution with a super low pH (1-3…like with a medium-deep peel). That doesn’t mean it isn’t working though! There’s still “micro peeling” going on! That also goes for lower % concentrations of non peeling products; any acid products you use will cause micro peeling too 💜
So what exactly can you treat with a superficial peel?? Here are some things they’re useful for helping:
- Easing the look of fine wrinkles
- Mild acne
- Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
- Uneven skintone
- Regular ass hyperpigmentation 😂
- Excess oil production
- Dull skin
- Mild sun damage
- Mild cases of Rosacea
- Mild melasma
…So basically the same kind of shit we covered in the last Acid 101 post… but with much faster results.
Speaking of results…In order to ultimately achieve longer-lasting results via this low level peeling method, your best bet may be to choose different/progressively higher concentrations of AHA/BHA treatments on a regular basis as discussed above. Again, superficial peels may require 2-3 treatment series before dramatic results will be seen. Don’t worry… even after one treatment, you will see an immediate difference in your skin! Just don’t expect rainbows, unicorns, or other magical shit after your first peel…. it takes time to get stuff corrected with a superficial peel. At most it will brighten, lighten dark spots slightly, and smooth your skin after the first application…. which is better + faster results than you’d get with over the counter treatments or skincare 👌🏽
That does it for Part One of my Chemical Peel series! There will be quite a few parts to this series… I have so much more to talk about! I know there are going to be at least a few people who come across this that will ignore my warning to not do at-home peels, so I feel compelled to put out as much information as I can about them. I’m all for DIY, but I’m also about doing as informed as possible… and doing shit safely.
You only get one face, after all…so don’t fuck it up.
Stay tuned for next Friday’s installment (Medium Peels!), and I’ll be back to regular posts on either Monday or Tuesday.
Have a great weekend!!