Toxic or Terrific?: The Truth About Skin Peels

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People often ask me questions about all the different ways to resurface the skin and repair the damage done by "too much fun in the sun," poor skin care, and photo-aging.  There are many options available today that address skin problems, but it can be a bewildering experience to sort though them all.  

Skin peels, when used correctly, can create dramatic changes quickly. But how do you know what to choose or where to go?  Professional skin resurfacing treatments can include chemical peels and laser treatments, but the expense and down time can be a real issue. And there has to be a better way to slow aging than throwing acidic chemicals onto damaged skin.

Are there any effective natural alternatives available? Are home peels effective? Do they work, and do I even need one? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions I have received over the years. So, with that in mind, I have answered the top five questions I hear the most.  

Why do we need to use peels on our skin?

Skin peels can be a very effective way to refine skin texture and minimize discoloration and sun damage. They can also produce a gentle, controlled shedding of dead surface layers of skin, which allows healthy, new layers of skin to be revealed. This restores a natural glow to the skin.  Peels are effective for men and women of any skin type, age, or color; however, it is important to note that sensitive, highly reactive skin types should avoid using peels.

At what age should a woman start a peel regimen?

Age is not the issue here—skin texture and condition is. Peels should be used as a corrective treatment to help clear, correct, and refine skin damaged by the sun, or acne skin conditions. Peels are recommended for lines and wrinkles, large pores, coarse texture, age spots, and blackheads. It is a real "power tool" to dramatically amplify your daily skin care regimen. 

 Will a peel make my skin super-sensitive to the sun?

It can. It depends on what type of peel you are referring to. Light, progressive skin peels are not as sensitizing as the deeper, more aggressive treatments are. However, it is important to understand that if you choose to use peels for their anti-aging effects, you must also be willing to protect tender, new skin from direct hits from the sun.  Use a healthy sun block daily if you want to get the maximum benefit from a skin peel treatment and halt daily environmental assaults.

I’ve heard that many of the peels sold in dermatologist’s offices (like the V-Peel) contain harsh and toxic chemicals. Can you speak to this?

There are a wide variety of skin-peeling acids available, and it is up to the consumer to do their due diligence and learn about the skin peels they are considering prior to treatment. Many peel treatments have been given specific names for marketing purposes, (such as the V peel) and the actual ingredients can be hard to find. You have to ask your doctor or skincare specialist for a data sheet and/or MSDS sheet on any given peel to understand the potential for toxicity. Some chemicals can be absorbed into the blood stream and are highly toxic to the liver; an example is resorcinol, an ingredient used in may deeper peel solutions. Safe options are available, however it is up to the consumer to be informed!

What are the benefits of using a chemical peel that actually peel of layers of your skin, as opposed to a natural fruit peel?

The difference is simply this: Whether you choose a deep skin peel (done in-office by a skincare specialist) or a lighter, more progressive peel like our Pumpkin Power Peel depends entirely on what your treatment goals and objectives are. For example, if you have melasma, cystic acne, deep wrinkles, or scar tissue, then deeper peels are necessary to address this degree of skin damage.  On the other hand, if your needs are not as intense, and you want to correct fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, large pores, or environmental/sun damage, then this lighter peel can work wonders without the down time that comes with deep peels. Our Pumpkin Power Peel contains high levels of beta-carotene (natural vitamin A), making this not only an effective resurfacing ingredient, but also a potent antioxidant treatment and ideal for most all skin types and conditions. Used once or twice a week, this enzyme-rich peel is perfect.   Remember, skin peels are beauty tools; just be sure you choose the right "tool" for the goals in mind.

 

Emily Fritchey is a holistic skin therapist, award-winning product formulator, and nationally recognized aesthetics educator who's unique and highly effective approaches for the treatment of aging and problem skin conditions have been presented at national aesthetics conferences, wellness seminars, and natural health workshops across the country. She has been featured in Cosmetic Surgery Times and Dermatology Times, and has received the endorsement of beauty experts and nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts across the country, including Kat James, author of "The Truth About Beauty." Emily is the founder and president of Sunshine Botanicals and the recipient of three consecutive "Beauty with a Conscience" awards from Natural Solutions magazine for outstanding product formulation. For more information, visit www.sunshinebotanicals.com, as well as her Facebook and Twitter pages.