The only treatment that does it all: chemical peels

20th November 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

Even if you’ve managed to catch some last-minute September sun, it’s most likely, like mine, your summer glow is long gone. According to media and beauty brands, it’s ok to be pale, tan is so 2006 anyway. Well, it might be, but somehow as a nation, we still crave that sun-kissed look: sales of fake tan products have rocketed by almost 40% in last two years!

As much as I would love to say that I’m happy to embrace my pale-going-translucent skin shade, I must admit – I love being tanned. Give me a week in the sun and my skin tone looks more even, blemishes have dried out and skin feels firmer (probably because it’s burnt = tight). Unfortunately, it’s only an illusion of a healthy glow – in reality, our body does not create a tan to be pretty, it’s a response to the mutations that occur in our DNA, which means the skin is being damaged on a cellular level. This can lead to the weakening of connective fibres (read: wrinkles and sagging), the aggravating of acne and the worsening of pigmentation.

Once the glow is completely gone and the tan fades, all imperfections that are caused by sun damage are suddenly more visible. Acne scars and dark spots are likely to be darker than they were before we spent all those hours in the sun.

Usually, November is my month of a ‘skin panic’. Do I desperately try to prolong my tan and carry on with a few cheeky sunbeds to get me through until early spring? Or do I just face the reality, and deal with the damage I caused by recklessly frying myself in a sun? At the age of 30, the second option seems like the right solution. How? Two words: CHEMICAL PEELS.

I am pretty sure every woman instantly thinks of Samantha’s bright red, burnt face from Sex and The City when hearing about chemical peels. However, this regenerative facial had its beginnings much earlier than the ’90s. Did you know? To exfoliate and brighten her sun-damaged skin, Cleopatra used to bathe in milk, which contains lactic acid and tone with wine that includes tartaric acid.

This old as hills treatment really does it all. Improves the texture of your skin and minor scarring, decreases hyperpigmentation, unclogs pores, helps clear up acne and reduces fine lines. And, it’s still one of the quickest and simplest facials out there. ‘A chemical peel consists of applying an exfoliating solution to the face, neck and decollete. It improves the appearance of the skin by removing the top layers of the epidermis in a controlled manner and accelerating cell turnover’, says Dr Krystyna Wilczynski, skin expert at Blush + Blow.

Depending on types of acids used, skin usually starts peeling 2-3 days after the treatment and within a week you are ready to party again. For best results, dermatologists recommend a course of 4-6 peels, every 2-3 weeks. ‘Chemical peels are great for autumn, as they brighten and refresh the skin greatly in anticipation of winter. It’s important to thoroughly protect your skin from the sun for 4 months after chemical peels, so autumn is, in fact, perfect for a course’, suggests Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and author of Look great, not done!

According to Dr Rabia Malik, an aesthetic doctor at Grace Belgravia, peels have been largely under-utilised in the UK. Even though their new formulations mean less downtime with quicker and better results: ‘Peels, particularly in combination with other modalities such as micro-needling, are a great way of stimulating one’s own collagen.’

Peel formulations have evolved over the years and we now have some very sophisticated options that combine different acids with other active ingredients including fruit enzymes and amino acids, to enhance efficacy. Correct combination peels mean that lower strength acids can be used to deliver the same results with comparatively less downtime. Newer formulations are often referred to as ‘metabolic’ peels – they don’t just strip the surface of the skin and leave your skin physically peeling off, but they stimulate new skin cells, are less inflammatory and result in ‘micro-peeling’ where old skin cells come away gradually and less noticeably, while delivering a better end result’.

Which peel is right for you?

The best way to choose the right peel is to seek advice from a specialist, as they will be able to tell which peel will work better for your skin type. However, if you don’t know where to go, we’ve peeled our skin at few places, so are on hand to give you some great recommendations – you’re welcome!

If you are struggling with pigmentation: NeoStrata Retinol Peel at EUDELO Clinic.

When applying Retinol, also known as vitamin A, to your skin, you help increase cell renewal and boost collagen production. It also slows the production of melanin and helps to reduce hyperpigmentation. The NeoStrata Retinol Peel contains 3% Retinol and a specially developed Retinol Boosting Complex™ to reduce fine lines and promote a bright, even complexion.

If you want your radiance back: Get The Glow Glycolic Peel at Blush + Blow.

If your skin looks dull and is in need of that ‘glow’ factor, then glycolic acid is your best option. With hardly any downtime and minimal redness, you can expect instant radiance, smoother texture and a brighter complexion.

If your skin is sensitive: Hydrating Peel, The Peel Boutique.

This is a perfect choice for dry and sensitive skin. A combination treatment containing a pomegranate, papaya and pineapple enzyme peel base with a chirally correct lactic acid, followed by a hydrating mask infused with green tea, lemon peel extract and R-lipoic Acid. This treatment nurtures, treats and hydrates while soothing and brightening the skin.

If you suffer from acne: Dermaquest Salicylic Acid Resurfacer at SK:N Clinics.

This treatment uses 20% Salicylic Acid to effectively exfoliate the skin by controlling congestion and relieving inflammation. It also targets blemish-causing bacteria and prevents future breakouts, stopping acne-causing oil in its tracks.

If you are looking for an anti-ageing solution: The TCA Skin Peel at EF Medispa Spa.

This trichloroacetic acid (TCA)-based peel works to tighten loose skin and refine lines. TCA acid is a more effective and longer lasting than the sugar and citric acids, as it goes deeper into the dermis and can treat more skin problems. Recently, it has even been used by doctors to treat, remove and lighten tattoos!