All about Esthetic Peeling and Why Post and Pre-Procedure Steps are Just as Important
Chemical peel services not only helps to exfoliate away all the build up dead skin cells, but also stimulates the skin in order to speed up the natural regeneration process that produced healthier and stronger cells. This is effective for many people with various kinds of skin concerns. Peeling procedures are very widely populated as a method of treatment of skin concerns that developed over a fairly short amount of time rather than a chronic condition.
Especially for estheticians without as much experience with the procedure itself, they might be burdened with the idea that their service must provide the customer with immediate and dramatic results. This might lead to them blindly choosing the product that is the most potent, and follow the protocols and instructions of the product to the T. However every esthetician must remember that in order to achieve the maximum level of the desired effect, pre and post procedure steps are just as important as the actual procedure itself.
However it is not entirely uncommon for customers as well as the estheticians to feel a bit hesitant towards chemical peels. While its positive effects are definitely notable, it is also true that things such as the possibility of pain and discomfort during the procedure, possible acne, hyperpigmentation and increased sensitivity post-procedure definitely is also something to keep in mind.
Unlike many other facial treatments, chemical peels goes beyond the process of peeling, which is why experienced estheticians would always make sure to emphasis the importance of these steps before and after the procedure. In order to ensure that the chemicals work and perform as well as the estheticians and the clients anticipate, the skin must be fully prepped in order for it to safely and effectively have chemicals applied to it. This step would also ensure that the risk of the chemicals causing any damage to the the skin is as low as possible, and proper aftercare is also crucial for the skin to heal its way to a stronger and healthier state.
Imagine the skin was a canvas frame; pre-peeling steps would equal to priming the canvas before painting, and post-peeling steps would be like varnishing the finished painting to make sure the artwork is preserved.
Client Consultation & Skin Analysis & Info Session
It is never a good idea to recommend a peeling service to a customer who is very new to esthetics, as it is something that both the skin and the client mentally needs to warm up to. It is impossible to learn everything about the client’s past skin conditions by simply analyzing their current conditions, or even making a guess, no matter how educated that guess may be.
There are quite a number of things that need to be checked before moving on to the peeling with a customer, and some of those things may include but is not limited to; medical history, possibility of pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, allergies, current lifestyle (amount of exposure to the sun, eating habits, sleeping pattern, menstrual cycle, whether they drink or smoke, general levels of stress, etc.), any histories with peeling procedures, other medical procedures (botox, fillers, laser, etc.), if they have experience with fake tan, facial waxing, as well as any plans to go on a vacation or have any special events coming up. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so checking for all of these elements are very important.
If the client may seem like they might not be the best person to have a chemical peel done for any reason, they may need extra examination and confirmation from a dermatologist to make sure. This can also help the esthetician determine the best chemicals, formulas and frequency of the procedure for that client, or simply choose not to go ahead. After cleansing the client’s skin, the esthetician should take note of the sebum and moisture levels, pH levels, sensitivity, pigmentation, pore sizes, wrinkles, elasticity, inflammation, etc. This data can help to determine the most ideal type of chemical peel to use, the viscosity and texture of the peel, pH levels and how much it should penetrate the skin, as well as the frequency that the procedure should be performed.
It is also very important to make sure that the customer is fully aware and consent to the expected results depending on the strength of the treatment that they are receiving, as well as the side effects that may realistically happen. For example, one session of the treatment will not solve every single skin concern, and the stronger and more intense the treatment is, the more stress it causes on the skin as well.
Establishing this sense of trust and security between the esthetician and the client can also help to prevent negative feedbacks or complaints. Make sure to provide personalized instructions on at-home steps that the clients can do depending on their lifestyles and schedules, and constantly check up wit them to make sure that they are following the instructions.
• Avoid spending extensive hours in the sun or using tanning bed from 2 weeks prior to the treatment
• Avoid active ingredients such as vitamin C and retinol, exfoliating products/ingredients, and any prescribed topical medications from at least 1 week prior to the treatment (it may be used up to 2-6 weeks prior to the procedure depending on the type of skin concern)
• Avoid facial waxing or laser treatments from at least a month prior to the peeling
If the client is scheduled to receive a peel that is quite strong and potent, an intense skin care routine must be established for at least 2 weeks up to 6 weeks prior to the peel with the help of an esthetician and at-home care. If this stage is missed or not done properly, there is a higher chance of the skin experiencing side effects or taking much longer to heal itself back.
The key point to remember is to utilize specialty ingredients that specifically suits the clients skin type and concerns and helps to peel in order to establish these skin care routines. Using a low-intensity peeling solution to “pre-peel” or also known as base peeling, can help the skin get accustomed to the chemicals and ingredients and desensitize the stimulation, and actually maximize the effect of peeling procedure by making the skin easier for the actual peeling solution to penetrate.
When doing at-home care, using ingredients that focuses on moisturizing, soothing, anti-inflammatory, sun protection can help lessen any extreme side effects that may be caused by the peel such as intense pain or swelling, melanin creation, and acne. It can also strengthen the skin to make sure that the skin is able to properly combat these side effects if they ever do occur.
TYPE: Hyperpigmentaion Skin
It is important to avoid excessive production of melanin but still encourage skin regeneration cycle in order to avoid any hyperpigmentation after any inflammation caused by the peel. For example, the client can use ingredients with brightening qualities such as vitamin C, kojic acid, azelaic acid and daisy extract to suppress any melanin production while using things such as retinol in order to speed up the process of exfoliation. Now for darker skin with more melanin already present prior to the procedure, these brightening/melanin suppressing routine should be followed for 4-6 weeks prior to peeling in order to avoid hyperpigmentation. Daily use of sunscreen should also be heavily enforced.
TYPE: Mature Skin
As the skin ages, the thickness of the epidermis decreases and looses both moisture and sebum. This would mean that the skin’s natural regeneration system is significantly slowed down, so it is important to prep the skin with ingredients such as low-intensity glycolic acid, lactic acid, PHA, or retinol to make the skin more permeable for the peeling solution. Because the moisture within the skin is one of the main elements that fuels the skin’s healing and regeneration process after a chemical peel, make sure to include moisturizing products as well as UV protection products in their routines
TYPE: Acne Prone Skin
The pre-peeling steps to prep acne prone skin for a peel all depends on the moisture and sebum level of the skin. As acne skin usually has a lot of sebum production, utilize low-intensity mandelic acid, salicylic acid and retinol. If the skin doesn’t have a strong skin barrier due to dry skin however, mainly focus on hydration before moving on with the base peeling. If there are any visible inflammation or ones that looks like they’re in the incubation period within the skin, make sure to use soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients before moving on to the peels.
TYPE: Sensitive Skin
For sensitive skin types, it is crucial to take things slow and allow the skin to slowly get used to the peeling solution. Especially if the skin has damaged skin barrier as well, utilize ampoules or moisturizers with lipid ingredients such as ceramide, or very small amounts of anti-inflammatory exfoliants such as retinol or enzymes, or mandelic acid, pyruvic acid, L-arginine to minimize any damage prior to the procedure.
Effective Aftercare Timeline for Different Stages of Skin Post-Peeling
Although it would all depend on the intensity of the peel as every skin would react differently, generally speaking post-peel skin would have external damage done by the peeling chemicals which would make the skin as soft and highly regenerative, but also just as sensitive and vulnerable as well.
Anything more intense than a mild peel would inevitably be followed by inflammation that could cause itchiness, stinging, burning sensations, and swelling. However these side effects are very natural things that happen during the process of healing the damaged skin structure and disappears within a couple days. It could take several weeks up to months of this process to completely renew the skin cells and the barrier that they create.
However administrating another peeling procedure or other kinds of stimulation to the skin before the healing process is finished can lead to serious permanent damages and side effects such as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or even scarring. While the severity of these side effects may very on the client’s skin type and concerns, it is very important to disclose the information about the possible changes in their skin as well and discussing plans of treatment if or when it does happen to them.
Make sure to inform the client of the general timeline of the peeling procedure. Usually a treatment is administered every 2-4 weeks depending on their skin regeneration cycle, and post-peel care starts within 2-14 days after the treatment. For example, it would be ideal to perform the peeling procedure every 3 weeks in order to minimize hyperpigmentation and production of extra melanin, however clients with high melanin content skin or extra sensitive skin might be more suitable to receive the treatment every 4 or more weeks instead.
For acne prone skin, it would be effective to go through with the peeling process every 2 weeks in the beginning in order to calm the inflammation, then after 2-3 sessions extend the time between each session to every 3-4 weeks to achieve maximum effectiveness.
The peeling solution may penetrate anywhere from the skin’s epidermis to the dermis layer, so it is mandatory to quickly repair the damaged skin balance and encourage the healing process by administering the correct skincare ingredients that the skin needs. However as it is not quite possible to monitor the client’s skin once they leave the shop/spa, it is crucial to educate the clients on everyday habits that might have a negative impact to ensure that no further damage is done to the skin.
Light Peeling Targeting the Epidermis
Because this type of peel doesn’t affect the deeper layers of the skin, there are barely any downtime for cell regeneration with 1-3 days being the maximum. Light flying of dead skin cells may occur depending on the skin type after the peel, and the client may see some redness which does tend to go away in a few hours
It is generally safe for the client to use their daily skincare products starting from the day after, however it is best to use chemical exfoliants such as AHA or BHA or vitamin C which increases sensitivity.
Soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, centella, arnica flower and white willow bark can be used to treat any itchiness or during sensations, and it is also helpful to use moisturizers with ceramide, essential fatty acid and hyaluronic acid in order to build a protective barrier over the skin. On top of that always use sun protector that is SPF 30 or more when going outside and make sure to reapply throughout the day.
Medium/Deep Peeling Targeting the Dermis
For stronger and deeper peels that penetrates both the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin, it takes around 3-5 days for dead skin cells to fall out, but at least 5-14 days for the regeneration process to occur. For deeper peels that specifically targets the dermal layer, the reconstruction process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to several months.
While this does eventually leave the skin with a rather dramatic change, it is definitely a tougher procedure to go through as the overall timeline of the entire treatment is quite extensive and the chances of side effects occurring are much more probable. It is best to avoid any kind of cleansing within 24 hours of the peeling treatment as well as any make up for the first 7 days post-peel, and using a light cleansing milk for cleansing the face afterwards.
It is also very helpful to constantly moisturize with products that contains ingredients that are similar to the natural skin barrier until the skin is fully healed, and get professional aftercare services. Most people will start to see part of the skin peeling and flaking off after 3-5 days after the treatment and it is very important not to use any exfoliating products or purposefully picking them off.
However once the skin has started to heal, it is fine to use mild enzymes or PHA products to clean up the flaking skin. Avoiding direct contact with the sun is very important, but if it is necessary, using a mineral sunscreen with a high SPF level and reapplying it constantly is the safest way to do so.
Device Solutions that Can Maximize the Effects of Peeling
In order to really maximize the effects and benefits of a chemical peeling treatment, the esthetician may choose to incorporate other treatments such as MTS, dermaplaning, microdermabrasion, LED, or ultrasonic devices before and/or after the peel. The combination of various other treatments and devices can achieve a synergy effect that can allow a more immediate and effecting improvements to the skin compared to when using the peeling treatment on its own.
For example, peeling and MTS can be used interchangeably in bi-weekly schedules in order to quickly improve aging, mature skin, and dermaplaning before using a peeling solution on a darker, hyper-pigmented skin would create a more permeable base for the peel solution to work on, helping to achieve a more dramatic brightening effect from within. Using a light peel paired with LED blue light or microdermabrasion can increase the effect of the peel while decreasing inflammation and sensitivity for acne prone skin as well.