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Peels: How They Work and Why You Should Have One!

Peels can seem scary to the uninitiated, but once you’ve had one then believe us, you’ll be hooked. We have clients who come specifically for peels that will make their skin shed to the max, and others who want a gentle refresh with minimal downtime, and each of these has their various benefits. We thought we’d demystify the process for you so you can make an informed choice.

How Does a Peel Work?

In the simplest terms, a peel speeds up the skin’s regeneration process through the application of specific ingredients. In creating a peeling action, the outer layers of the epidermis will have been chemically exfoliated, which stimulates collagen, elastin and GAGs.

Why Get A Peel?

Open pores? Peels address these, whilst increasing the thickness of the epidermis.

Dry skin? Peels help purify and oxygenate the skin, so it is moisturised and free of impurities.

Ageing? Peels soften wrinkles.

Pigmentation? Peels help unify the skin tone and lighten dark patches.

Spots? Peels help reduce acne.

Acne scars? Peels absolutely address this!

Dull skin? Peels help to improve the appearance.

I’m Scared of Peels!

A lot of people are scared of ending up with permanently thinned, red, irritated skin that we have seen on those who have over-indulged (the clinician should NOT have let this happen. Poor practice makes us mad!). There are undoubtedly risks with peels, such as activation of cold sores, hyper-pigmentation and hypersensitivity.

However, a lot depends on how well the patient sticks to their peel prep (more of which later) and, of course, the professionalism of the aesthetician in identifying skin concerns and needs. At Skin Philosophy we only have staff who are trained to the highest standards through our own rigorous training, so you can put those worries to rest.

People are also scared of the downtime: peeling skin, as well as discomfort during the actual procedure. Some peels are certainly ‘spicy’ and can feel very hot and stinging, but that’s because they’re doing their job: we make you comfortable and give you an electric fan to hold. As for the peeling – yes – we know it’s not ideal! It’s all about timing: making sure it’s finished by the time of an event, or perhaps when one’s partner is away for a trip! When we have peels we just learn to bear with it, because we know how amazing our skin will look in a few days.

What Does the Process Involve?

First you will come in for an assessment and be given your prep. As we said, there are risks with peels, such as photosensitivity, so it’s important that you’re given the right skincare that has a tyrosinase inhibitor such as vitamin C (this helps reduce the production of melanin, which causes hyperpigmentation) and a good quality SPF. Some clients may also be given a patch test on the inside of the forearm or behind the ear to ensure that there is no adverse reaction.

This also allows us to see which peel would be appropriate. We have very superficial peels, which will give you a gentle exfoliation and a glow, superficial peels that will penetrate more deeply and cause more shedding, and medium-to-deep peels that will cause more swelling, redness and shedding but result in a more dramatic improvement.

On the day of your treatment, you’ll be cleansed and the peel will be applied. In general that involves priming your skin with a wipe to ready the skin’s pH for the peel, which tends to sting a little. Your peel will be applied speedily but precisely by your practitioner, who will constantly check in with you as to how you’re feeling, comfort-wise, on a scale of 1-10.

The peel may be applied again, and some are left for up to 20 minutes (while others are strictly no more than two minutes).

Some ingredients will deactivate after a while by themselves, whilst alternative peels require neutralising, which is often a lovely and cooling moment for clients!

Then whatever is needed will be applied: aloe to soothe, SPF to protect. The whole process generally takes around half an hour: it’s not a fluffy facial, rather a results-driven treatment.

What Do I Do After?

Immediately afterwards you need to be as relaxed as possible: no gym and definitely no saunas or hot showers! You’ll have been given aftercare and a skincare regimen by your aesthetician to adhere to strictly. But apart from that, it’s a case of patiently waiting out the ‘shed’ for you to see glowing, healthy, even skin! For some, a course will have to be purchased to achieve the desired effect, for example those who are looking to improve the appearance of acne scars. It’s rare that people come in for one peel though: they’re too effective not to be a little bit addictive!