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A Guide to Chemical Peels

Chemical  peel  is 
used  to  improve 
the  appearance of the skin. A
chemical solution  is  applied 
to  the skin that causes it to
“blister” and eventually peel off. Fine  lines and wrinkles can  often be reduced or even eliminated with this
procedure. Skin blotches like sunspots, age spots and freckles can be
minimized. Mild scarring, certain  types
of acne, and dull skin can be improved by chemical peels.
The more common types of chemical peels are:

1) Glycolic acid peel – This produces superficial peeling and may
require multiple sessions, with option to use increasing concentrations at 20%,
30%, and 40%. It improves skin texture, reduces fine lines and mild scarring,
and helps prevent acne breakouts.  It is
also used to enhance penetration of other skin actives for lightening and

2) Salicylic acid peel – Studies show that salicylic acid has the ability to get
deeper into the pore than glycolic acid. It is now the preferred peel in
controlling oil production, and in preventing formation of blackheads and
whiteheads. In general, salicylic acid does not produce as deep a peel as a
similar concentration of glycolic acid.

3) Jessner’s peel Dr. Max Jessner combined 14%
salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol in an ethanol base for a very mild
acid combination that is often applied right before a deeper peel to “open up
the skin.”

4) Retinoic acid peel – This is a deeper peel than salicylic acid
peel and is usually performed in conjunction with a Jessner. The
client leaves with the solution on their face. The peeling takes place on the
3rd day onwards. Expect dramatic improvements with multiple peels over time
with scars, wrinkles and pigmentation problems.

5) Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel – This can produce intermediate to deep peeling in
concentrations ranging from 20-35%. Depth of penetration is increased as
concentration increases. Concentrations higher than 35% are not recommended
because of the high risk of scarring.  
TCA peel can smooth out fine wrinkles
and remove superficial blemishes. Skin will take several days to heal depending
on the peel depth. Repeat treatments are usually required.

6) Phenol peel
– This carbolic acid peel is the strongest which produces dramatic improvement
with just a single treatment. However, phenol peels may pose high risks in
darker skinned patients and may result in permanent uneven skin tone.

After any kind of chemical peel,
it is important to avoid prolonged sun exposure and to always wear broad-spectrum
sunscreen, like
DERMAX UV MILK since the new skin is susceptible to complications.
The dermatologist will prescribe other post treatment care to reduce the
tendency to develop abnormal skin color after peeling.

This was published in the April 9, 2013 issue of Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section. The author, Fred C. Reyes, is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at

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