Chemical peels are enjoying a surge in popularity, and are becoming more regularly accepted in the lives of men and women of all economic backgrounds. Despite its acceptance, however, many people find the cost of professional services prohibitive, and must seek out alternatives. One of the best (and safest) alternatives to professional services is the creation of at-home chemical peels; these are both easier on the budget, and tailor-made, making them ideal for individuals of all skin types and budgetary needs.
What Types of Chemical Peels Can Be Made at Home?
- Glycolic Acid
- Lactic Acid
Glycolic Acid is a compound derived from sugar cane. This type of peel is beneficial, as its molecular construction is small, making it easier to penetrate pores to create a smooth, bright, even complexion. This particular ingredient is excellent for men and women seeking a more complete peel. Glycolic acid peels are ideal for reducing the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, reducing the size of pores, and decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Glycolic acid can be powerful, however, so use caution when using. Initial peels should only be applied for 1-2 minutes until something of a tolerance is built up. From there, you may gradually increase the time until you hit the maximum amount of time at five minutes.
TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) peels are used primarily for individuals with various acne scarring, ranging from pitting to small, red discolorations. This is one of the more powerful peel types, and should be used only under carefully controlled conditions and with precisely measured ingredients. This acid is a combination of a control agent, chlorine, and acetic acid—all potentially harmful ingredients if they are used improperly. Like Glycolic applications, TCA should be applied gradually, and should not be left on for extended periods of time.
Lactic acid is naturally occurring in the body, as a compound that is built and released during and following exercise. This same compound can be used to create a more even skin tone and ease the appearance of discoloration caused by aging, sun exposure, and acne, as well as delivering relief from signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. Lactic acid peels should initially contain only 10% acid, before gradually working up to a 30-40% dilution. Many men and women prefer to use this type of peel because it is found in the body naturally.
How Are They Done?
At-home treatments are created through chemical ingredients (typically acid of some kind), and a neutralizing agent, such as witch hazel or a mixture of baking soda and water.
To begin, thoroughly cleanse the area to be treated, and ensure skin is dry and free of oils. Failure to follow this step will results in a sub-standard peel, as even natural oils can interfere with the potency of acid.
After cleaning, gently apply to acidic solution in swift, even strokes. Allow the treatment to sit for 3-5 minutes (but never longer than 10).
Next, take a cotton ball soaked in the neutralizing agent, and apply in swift strokes over all treated areas. This will neutralize the acidic effect of the peel, and will make for easier removal. Continue to apply for 1 minute to ensure the treatment has been neutralized entirely.
Rinse face using warm water, followed by cool water. The warm will remove the mixtures from your skin, while the cool with soothe.
Apply toner and moisturizer and, if you anticipate going out into the sun, sunscreen. Chemical peels make skin particularly sensitive to sun damage, and skin must be properly protected against the sun to see great results.
What Should I Expect After?
After a peel, skin is likely to be sensitive and may remain pink or a light red for a few days. Sun sensitivity will be high, so avoiding the sun altogether is the best option, if it is possible. Flaking will occur as the old skin peels away. If this is embarrassing for you, use a high-quality skin oil or lotion to keep your face hydrated and fresh.
Most signs of chemical use (redness, peeling, sensitivity) should fake within 3-5 days. If any of these symptoms persist, it may be necessary to consult a dermatologist or your physician to ensure no adverse reaction has occurred.
Are They Safe?
At home treatments have the potential to be safe—as well as the potential to be dangerous. Their safety will rely entirely upon the user following safe practices (using gloves, following all preparation instructions and measurements, and adhering to the time limits set forth by the manufacturer). Damage is typically incurred through improper use and failure to obey the timing rules provided with the ingredients.
If, at any time, your skin begins to burn or ache, neutralize the chemicals immediately; although the acidic content may cause an uncomfortable or stinging feeling, it should never cause outright pain or severe skin discoloration. If severe pain is present, or skin turns dark red or purple, the solution will cause damage rather than repair it.
Do They Work as Well as Professional Peels?
Although professional treatments may seem more effective, that is typically due to the expertise of application and use, rather than a flaw found within the product itself. Estheticians are required to undergo training and hands-on application before becoming licensed, and are both more comfortable and more familiar with treatments of this nature. With consistency and practice, your at-home treatment can yield successful results as powerful as professional-grade peels.
What Do Peels Help With?
Chemical treatments are used for a host of problems, most of them related to aging. These include wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, enlarged pores, dull complexion, scarring, and sagging. During the treatment, skin is essentially encouraged to slough away, leaving smooth, youthful skin in its place.
Is a Homemade Chemical Peel Right for Me?
With the proper safety precautions in place, peeling at home is a great way to reap the benefits of professional services without the hefty price tag. Before you begin a treatment, research the company you have purchased you product from to ensure you are using high-quality, cosmetic-grade contents, and follow all directions to the letter. With these safety practices in place, you can be on your way to fresher, more youthful skin from the comfort of your home.