Do you worry about the safety of chemical peels?
Chemical peels promise to do wondrous things for our skin, from curing acne to bringing back our youth, but are they really safe to use, particularly at home?
Well, whether chemical peels are safe to use by non-professionals, depends on the amount of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) in the peel, as well as your skin type and how long you leave the peel on your skin.
There are adverse reactions from all types of chemical peels, so it is important that you discuss your skin type and your skin problems with a medical professional, to avoid any unforeseen problems. This ensures that you select the best facial exfoliator or chemical peel for your skin and so you can expect the very best results.
Don’t forget that after using any type of AHA peel, your skin is very sensitive to the sun, so you should always wear a high factor sunscreen following a chemical peel.
FDA Safety Regulations for alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
The FDA has determined that products containing AHAs, such as glycolic acid are safe for use by consumers in the following circumstances:
- The AHA concentration is 10% or less.
- The pH of the final product is 3.5 or greater.
- The final product either protects your skin from increased sun sensitivity or its packaging contains directions to wear a daily sun screen.
The FDA goes onto say that products containing AHAs are safe for use in salons if:
- The AHA concentration is 30% or less.
- The final pH of the product is 3.0 or greater.
- When used by trained professionals and instructions for the daily application of sun protection is given.
From my understanding of the above information, this appears to mean that any AHA chemical peel or other product containing glycolic acid that is below 10% is safe for use by non-professionals.
Also, above 10%, they should be administered or prescribed by an aesthetician and above 30% they should only be administered by a medical professional or dermatologist.
Safety of ‘at home’ chemical peels
If we take into consideration the FDA regulations, this means that if the glycolic acid peel, cream or lotion contains 10% or less glycolic acid or lactic acid then you should be safe to use these products at home.
Of course you need to adhere to all directions that come with the product and discuss your skincare with a medical professional if you are in any doubt about the appropriateness and the safety of the chemical peel.
If you purchase a glycolic acid peel or other skincare product with AHAs greater than 10%, then you need to be aware that these should only be administered by an aesthetician in a salon or a medical dermatologist, depending on the percentage of the AHA in the peel.
Do you have to prepare your skin for a chemical peel?
For some of the stronger peels, yes you do need to prepare your skin for a couple of weeks before the procedure. This is so that your skin can build up a tolerance to lower percentage peels, and can then deal with a stronger peel more easily.
Your medical practitioner will explain this to you, but if you purchase an over the counter chemical peel, be sure to read the instructions carefully, so that you prepare your skin correctly if this is required.
How to prevent wrinkles with a chemical peel
Whether or not a chemical peel will reduce your lines and wrinkles depends on many factors. Two important factors are the depth of your wrinkles and the type of chemical peel.
A light chemical peel is unlikely to make much difference to deep wrinkles, so you will most probably be much better off with a deep chemical peel, offered by dermatologists.
On the other hand, fine lines and wrinkles may well appear much smaller following a light chemical peel. It is always best to obtain the advice of a health care professional before you take the plunge, so that you don’t waste your money on a chemical peel that won’t give you the results you want.
Chemical peels and acne scars
Generally, if you have severe acne scarring you will need to see a dermatologist, because it is more likely that you will need a deep chemical peel to heal these type of scars.
Light chemical peels on the other hand, can help to reduce the appearance of some light scarring due to acne, but always seek professional medical advice when you want to treat or reduce scars on your face.
Chemical peels as a treatment for hyper-pigmentation
If you have severe hyper-pigmentation, then you will most likely benefit from a deep chemical peel with TCA.
This should only be performed by a medical professional and will take you up to a month for your skin to fully recover from this of deep chemical peel.
So you should set aside some annual leave if you want one of these deep chemical peels performed.
On the other hand, you might just need a series light chemical peels, if your pigmentation is not too severe, and it doesn’t take very long for your skin to look fabulous afterwards.
Peels, facial scrubs, lotions, creams ….?
Many skincare products that contain low levels of AHAs, are often advertised as serums, creams, facial scrubs, exfoliators or lotions. These are usually designed to gently exfoliate and hydrate your skin and they generally contain 10% or less AHA.
Once the skincare product contains more than 10% AHA however, there is a bit of a grey area, with some products being called moisturizers, creams or lotions and others being called chemical peels.
Once you reach approximately 30% AHA, these skincare products usually tend to be advertised as chemical peels.
So it always pays to check the percentage of the AHAs in the skincare product, before purchasing it, in case it is either too strong or too light for your skin.
10% Glycolic Acid Cream by InstaNatural
This luscious moisturizer contains 10% glycolic acid, 20% vitamin C, 10% hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, bearberry extract and CoQ10 and is designed to deliver ultimate hydration to your skin. Chocked full of potent antioxidants, this cream gently exfoliates your skin, cleans out clogged pores and gives your skin a healthy, fresher glow.
The super hydration delivered by the hyaluronic acid, helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and plump up your skin. You can use this product daily 9day or night time), but if you use it in the day – follow up with a sunscreen because AHAs make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Glycolic Acid Cream 10% with Jojoba oil by Toulon
With glycolic acid, rosehip oil, licorice root, green tea and lots of wonderful antioxidants this cream super revitalizes your skin, exfoliates away all of the dead skin cells and leaves your skin looking wonderfully radiant.
This cream is great for people who suffer from blocked pores, blackheads or acne, and it also for those who want to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, lighten age spots and give their skin look a fresher, brighter and more youthful glow.
Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel by Perfect Image
It is designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, stimulate the production of collagen and remove dead skin cells to give your complexion a fresher, rejuvenated appearance. Can be used 1 to 2 times a week for up to 4 to 6 weeks, but must be rinsed off after application.
OZ Naturals Face Peel with 50% Glycolic Acid
So if you have fine lines or wrinkles, this is a great peel for you, but just be sure to follow the instructions and use it no more than every 2 weeks for up to 8 treatments and monthly thereafter. It contains glycolic acid and water.
If you want to review exfoliation and facial scrubs, you can read them here: