Skin peels were once a strictly medical procedure, only becoming mainstream in the beauty industry of the 1980s. The peels of 30 years ago were used to improve acne as well as rejuvenate ageing skin, smooth lines, even out skin tone and fade dark spots.
In that respect they were similar to the peels of today which are intended generally to promote overall healthier skin.
However, having a professional skin peel in the 80s meant you had to book off work for at least ten days and stay inside, away from any sunlight, while your skin literally peeled right off your face in long strands. A peel really was a peel back then!
Today’s peels are much more sophisticated and are all about the healthy maintenance of the skin, says Dr Anushka Reddy. They are used to minimise fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, mild acne scars, age spots and dry or flaking skin.
Referred to as “resurfacing”, these procedures treat the skin in order to speed up the development of cells in the lower layers. These cells come to the surface younger and more healthy-looking.
In general, peels involve the use of alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids, known as AHAs and BHAs, which include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid.
These occur naturally in fruits and other foods, and it is also common to use fruit enzymes and acids from pumpkins, cranberries or pineapples.
Other ingredients include tartaric acid from grapes, which is less irritating to the skin. the skin, Malic acid, citric acid, TCA or trichloroacetic acid and Carbolic acid.
The latter is found in Phenol peels and is the strongest type of peeling agent available. It is used for very deep peels.
When it comes to treating hyperpigmentation, reversing the signs of ageing and treating dry skin, these acids have a long and proven track record and some of them are contained in many common beauty products.
There are different degrees of face peels in the aesthetic industry, according to the level of sun and other damage in the epidermis and dermis.
No down time is required for a “lunchtime peel” which is a superficial or light peel. A quick visit to a spa or salon like Medi-Sculpt ensures your skin is glowing and revitalised within minutes.
These are are the gentlest type of peels available and only remove the top layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, giving your skin and instantly brighter look as well as a smoother, more even texture. A course of between six to 10 treatments is usually recommended for best results.
Superficial peels do not hurt, there is only a slight tingling or stinging sensation . Make up can disguise any redness.
With a superficial peel you can return to work or go out straight afterwards and no one would know you had had the treatment done.
There are also advanced peeling systems, which offer the kind of results you would expect from a medium depth peel but with the side effects of a superficial peel.
These types of peels use active ingredients to penetrate and deliver anti-oxidants and vitamins deep into the skin encouraging the new cells to grow stronger and healthier.
For very deep wrinkles in the face and cheeks a more aggressive form of face peel can be considered.
For cases like these a deeply penetrating chemical peel Like Obagi Blue Peel can be considered, under supervision.
Patients would have to spend three to five days inside says Dr Reddy and the likelihood of complications is very low.