Here is a ’90s revival for you: the chemical peel. After being eclipsed in the early 2000s by new skin-resurfacing lasers, these classic treatments are back on top. More people are getting them now than in 1997 (when peels were the number-one cosmetic procedure in the country), according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
“Turns out good old chemical peels can actually deliver certain skin benefits — like reversing melasma and breakouts — better than high-tech devices,” says Doris Day, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “By casting off dull surface cells, they improve fine lines, acne, discoloration, and more. And they do it for all skin types and colors — usually for a fraction of the cost of flashier (literally) options.”
A superficial fractional-laser treatment can be expensive — and you may need several sessions to accomplish the desired results. A medium-depth chemical peel may cost much less and gives more impressive results in a single treatment.
As with most old-is-new-again ideas, today’s peels are much more sophisticated and less irritating. The glycolic peels of the ’90s hurt and left your face red. But acid formulas have been expanded and refined, and so have the approaches to using them. The goal now isn’t so much to cause visible peeling as it is to infuse the skin with ingredients that diminish lines, build collagen, and improve tone.
Here are four more reasons to book a peel — and help your skin make a radical comeback.
- Peels can make your skin — and skin-care products — work better. In minutes, acids lift away dead cells and trigger a lovely chain reaction: As that topmost layer is shed, signals are sent to the living cells below to multiply and move up, to increase collagen production, to make more hyaluronic acid, and to act younger.
- They’re low-risk and can be customized. There are chemical peels that are safe to use on every skin color without risk of hyperpigmentation (usually a worry with darker complexions). We now know that using low percentages of multiple acids gives a better outcome with less irritation than a single acid at a higher strength.
- The right peel can end acne and soften the scars that come with it. Salicylic acid peels and Jessner’s peels (equal parts salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol, an antiseptic exfoliant) dive deep into skin to unclog pores while also skimming the surface to erode blackheads and fade post-pimple marks. Another advantage of salicylic acid: It lingers in the pores, where it continues to keep them clear over time.
- Nothing controls melasma better. There isn’t a permanent cure for the recurring sun-triggered dark patches brought on by hormonal surges (like those caused by pregnancy and the Pill), but chemical peels (paired with at-home bleaching creams, high-SPF sunscreen, and strict sun avoidance) offer the best fighting chance.
Request an appointment for a chemical peel — and clearer, younger looking, brighter skin.
Cindy DiCesare, L.E. – Beauty Bar Medispa