Why Summer Peels Come with Special Instructions

Deciding your skin needs attention is a great first step to change. You can read about all the latest solutions to your skin issues, but there may not be a ton of information in the Facebook ads or even the product boxes of self-administered chemical peels. If your doctor told you how to treat a wound, you’d pay special attention, right? This is no different.

If getting or giving yourself a chemical peel, especially when it’s hot outside, extreme caution must be observed.  Fall and winter are the optimum times for this procedure, whether self-administered or by a professional aesthetician like me. Your skin needs more protection from the complications that can occur if you receive too much UV exposure during the recovery and healing stage from a facial.  If you do get a chemical peel, plan to stay indoors – not an easy thing to do in the summer. Even the heat and sun you receive inside your car can contribute to negating the effects of your procedure. And yes — if you don’t observe these rules, your skin can become more damaged than when you came in to see me.

Peels can address skin concerns ranging from pigment changes and mild sun damage to more extensive wrinkles and lesions.  Opting for this procedure can enhance the texture and clarity of skin. During the peel, the skin is cleansed and then treated with a solution known as a wounding or exfoliating agent, laying your skin bare to any outside elements and making it conducive to letting the chemicals penetrate its surface.  It may or may not be explained to you that this is intended to actually destroy wrinkled or damaged portions of the skin to which it is applied, encouraging the growth of new skin in its place over a period of time following the procedure.  After a period of time goes by (your aesthetician may vacate the room for a while, leaving you time for a short nap) the chemical is neutralized.  The strength of the solution and length of time are dependent upon the type of peel, with medium and deep peels using stronger chemicals that are applied in multiple 15-minute increments during a 60 to 90 minute procedure.  The level of topical pain medication used also correlates to the extensiveness of the peel. Usually you can tolerate a basic peel without it unless you have particularly sensitive skin. If a peel truly hurts, however, don’t stay silent. Inform your aesthetician right away.

Over the following days to weeks, skin on the treated area will peel and begin the process of creating new layers to replace those that have been destroyed.  It’s often not a pretty sight. This is why I caution people getting this procedure not to plan it just before a special event — especially a wedding! Skin must be cared for properly during recovery to ensure healing, long-lasting results, and to avoid infection.  Because your skin is in such an inviting state, sun exposure has the potential to introduce color changes and hyperpigmentation. So it’s important to avoid exposure to heat and the sun until the skin has finish peeling completely. Daily sunscreen is required post-peel.

For my clients receiving a series of peels spaced a month or more apart, they can complete an entire set of treatments without having to cope with high sun exposure if the season is more cool and cloudy.  Even during winter or fall, however, sunscreen still must be applied daily. 

I know. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore the instructions I give you when you rise from my treatment table. But I advise that you take your peel procedure very seriously if you are looking for the best result. Here is what I tell all my peel clients:

  1. Don’t work out or exercise for 24 to 48 hours. Workouts heat you up.
  2. Wear and reapply sunscreen and moisturizer.
  3. Don’t take hot showers or sit in the hot tub.
  4. Avoid being overheated in any way, including roughhousing with the kids.
  5. Don’t let the initial peel scare you. You haven’t gotten to pay dirt quite yet. When you do, you’ll be glad you observed steps 1-4.
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