The Legacy of Chemical Peels
By: Rene Sacchitella
It may come as a shock to you but chemical peels have been around for a very long time. I know you wouldn’t think so with the word “chemical” in the name but that phrase came around way after the process was discovered. In ancient Egypt, the people would use a combination of animal oils, salt, alabaster and sour milk to aesthetically improve the skin. The sour milk would contain what we now know of lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, as the active ingredient to exfoliate the dead skin cells to improve tone and texture. Egyptians weren't even the only ones to use similar techniques. The Greeks and Romans would use an exfoliating paste with pumice, frankincense,myrrh, grape skins and tree resins to lighten the skin. The Turks would use fire to singe the skin to induce a mild exfoliation. Many others across the world for at least 2 millennia have been formulating ways to improve their appearance through. Finally, in the 1870’s dermatologists pioneered the processes by refining the exfoliating agents into what call phenol, lactic acid, tartaric acid, salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to be used on the skin. This was the birth of chemical peels. The newest acid to come in to the scene in the 1990’s being glycolic acid, is the latest technology within the dermatology world and still there is always new discoveries.
So what do chemical peels do exactly? Chemical Peels are chemical exfoliants. Meaning they were designed to remove dead skin cells and impurities on the skin. Just like the majority our night creams just in higher grade dilutions. And how is that important again? First, chemical peels in general give the appearance of more radiant skin by allowing us to see the healthy skin underneath the dull, dead top layer. Chemical peels also maintain the production of collagen and elastin and allow for deeper product penetration, making your existing skincare go further. But also, each particular acid has its own unique benefit to the skin.
Glycolic acid is an ingredient derived primarily from sugar cane, though it is now often made synthetically. It falls into a set of molecules known as AHA's, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids. It exfoliates the superficial layer of dead skin cells, bringing fresh, new skin to the surface. It is great for clients that are looking for anti-aging results since it's best for fine lines and wrinkles. It has been known to thicken the skin and produce more collagen production perfect for clients that are trying to reduce signs of aging. Glycolic acid can also help lighten discoloration of the skin by evening out the tonal shifts of the skin, and it can help those with blemish prone skin by eliminating the surface bacteria.
Lactic Acid Peels
As stated above lactic acid was the pioneer of chemical peels. Still in the AHA family, lactic acid is actually the most universal peel. Since lactic acid is a natural human metabolite, there is less chance of an allergic reaction with this type of peel, perfect for sensitive skin. Known for its ability to reduce hyperpigmentation (dark spots) on the skin because lactic acid uniquely helps inhibit the overproduction of melanin, (which creates hyperpigmentation). This peel is perfect for treating sun damaged skin.
In contrast salicylic peels was originally produced from a substance that comes from the bark of the willow tree, creating the most widely used beta-hydroxy acid (BHA).It functions as both an anti-inflammatory agent and one that creates enzymes that produce pro-inflammatory mediators, great for reducing redness. It also has antibacterial properties as well which, makes it perfect for acneic clients. Salicylic acid, purifies pores by penetrating deep to eliminate impurities, regulates sebum production on the skin (oil production) and diminishes visible redness.
Trichloracetic acid or TCA can be used for superficial peels or deeper peels depending on the concentration. It is a relative of vinegar (acetic acid) and the goal during the chemical reaction is to eliminate the surface layers of the dermis to achieve stronger results than a normal AHA peel. TCA peels can help treat pigmentation, discoloration, acne scars, fine lines and aging grooves. Since TCA is deeper and a bit more aggressive, it does require more care after treatment. An occlusive like Aquaphor or Neosporin to protect the skin in the healing process is essential for recovery. At Denver Laser solutions we also compounded our TCA peel with a the only FDA approved lightener hydroquinone to achieve a brighter, healthier complexion.
Combinations of these acids are also very effective, like “Jessner’s Solution” which contains both AHA’s and BHA’s to correct the skin from each direction. At Denver Laser Solutions we can customize the perfect treatment plan for your skin and you can ask us which is the best peel for you! Since fall is the perfect season for chemical peels and shedding away the old, our Shed the Dead package offers 3 chemical peels and 3 facials to give you perfect skin all season! Call us today at 303.578.3809!