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We Asked Experts The Good, Bad & Ugly About Chemical Peels & Here's What They Said

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Even though they may sound like it, chemical peels are anything but scary. On the contrary, they provide a host of benefits to people who are struggling with pigmentation, scars, and discolouration. If you're new to chemical peels, it's wise to get one done at a dermatologist's clinic. They'll not only be able to evaluate your skin type but will also recommend a chemical peel for it too. To throw more light on the subject, we've looped in two experts- Dr. Ameesha Mahajan of RM Aesthetics and Dr. Mikki Singh, Dermatologist, Bodycraft.

What Are Chemical Peels?

woman looking at her skin in the mirror

According to Dr Ameesha Mahajan, a chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing technique in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to peel its top layers. The lower layers of the skin grow to come back after a chemical peel which gives smoother, less pigmented and more youthful-looking skin. It sounds like the top of skin will be completely shed off, but what actually happens is peeling or exfoliation at a microscopic level and most commonly, what we experience after a peel is a simple dryness.

Dr Ameesha also adds that there are different kinds of chemical peels, and they act at varying depths, namely - superficial, medium and deep. The peels used in our Indian skin type are very superficial, superficial or rarely medium depth peels. If done at a dermatologists clinic, under supervision, they give wonderful results and have no side effects.

Another important fact about chemical peels pointed out by Dr Mikki Singh is that the treatment shows the best results ideally after multiple sittings. Since chemical peels provide a combination of mechanical and chemical exfoliation, it is more effective than exfoliating face washes.

What Should You Expect From Chemical Peels?

woman getting a chemical peel done

To learn about chemical peels, it's important to understand the process first. According to Dr Mikki Singh, one must first meet the doctor to evaluate their skin type, complexion, texture and to discuss skin issues and concerns along with their medical history (this is done in order to ascertain the course of treatment).

Before the chemical peel treatment, a patch test is recommended to assess your skin's reaction to the peeling agent. If all goes well, then it's safe to go ahead with the treatment. During the chemical peel session, the treatment area is first cleaned with a cleanser. The peeling agent is applied using a brush. It is then left on for anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes depending on the nature of the peeling agent used and the desired effect needed. The peel is later neutralised using a neutralising agent.

Note: Each chemical peel session ends with the application of an ice cube to cool down the skin, followed by a hydrating cream and sunblock.

What Are The Benefits of Chemical Peels?

woman examining her skin in the mirror

With an array of chemical peels available, Dr. Mahajan points out that the spectrum of treatment is also quite large. The peels can be basic single ingredient peels or combination peels. Basic peels can be glycolic acid, salicylic acid, mandelic acid, lactic acid, arginine, tca, etc.

Nowadays, the more commonly used peels are combination peels which combine multiple ingredients to give added benefits like kojic acid, citric acid, retinol, resorcinol, acetic acid, etc along with the basic peels. Peels also help with pigmentation problems like dullness, tanning, uneven skin tone, melasma, post-acne pigmentation, dark lips, and under-eye pigmentation. Not to forget, get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, active acne, and fine lines.

The Aftercare & Precautions To Take Post A Chemical Peel Treatment

woman looking after her skin

To get the maximum benefits of your peeling procedure, Dr Mahajan stresses on the importance of liberal and frequent use of sunscreen after any chemical peel to protect the new skin. Use of mild cleanser is also encouraged and generous application of a moisturiser will help to keep the skin hydrated and making it less prone to sensitivity. She also suggests avoiding cosmetics for up to 6 hours after the procedure and not to use bleach, do a facial, steam your face, or step into a sauna for the next 48 hours after the procedure.

Dr. Mikki Singh also does not working out after the treatment as it can lead to skin irritation due to heat and exertion. Since peels dry out the skin to a large extent, she suggests going for a moisturising facial post peeling (after the skin has healed) to keep it hydrated. 

Note: Consult with the doctor to build your peel & facial package.

Stay Far Away From Chemical Peels If You Are...

According to Dr. Mikki Singh, avoid chemical peels if you are...

  • Allergic to certain agents, chemicals, or medication.
  • Medication that contains certain chemical ingredients.
  • Currently undergoing treatment for skin disease or infectious disease.
  • Have a history of exposing the treatment area to radiation.
  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or diabetic (for certain peels).
  • Have extremely reactive skin.
  • Have had recent cosmetic surgery or cosmetic injections (approval from a physician is required).
  • Are sunburned, wind-burned, or have severely dehydrated skin with irritation.
  • Have broken skin or scrapes.

Now that you have a clearer idea of what chemical peels are, you will be able to take better care of your skin before and post the treatment too. All the best!

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