Skin is in a constant state of renewal, however, as we age, this continuous supply of new cells from the basal layer of the epidermis slows. When this happens, skin loses its firmness, elasticity and healthy glow. Chemical peels are a popular spa treatment and, when performed correctly, will restore skin to some of its former glory.
Chemical peels work by breaking the chemical bonds that hold epidermal skin cells together. This process, known as delamination, stimulates the production of new skin cells. Depending on the strength and pH of the acid used in the treatment, the chemical agents can penetrate further into the epidermis to weaken the bonds which hold the aging skin cells together. The lower the pH of the product used, the more acidic it will be. Most acidic skin peels have a pH of 1.5 to 4.0.
Keep in mind, however, that stronger is not always better when it comes to professional skincare treatments. In most spas, estheticians use mild enzyme peels, which affect the upper stratum of the epidermis only. Acid peels, which penetrate deeper into the epidermis, may also be performed in both spa and medical settings, depending on each state's regulations. Certain types of chemical peels, such as phenol and modified phenol peels, may only be performed by dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and other medical professionals.
Does this mean that medical peels are more effective than peels performed at a spa? The answer, of course, depends on what you hope to achieve. For those looking for a more youthful appearance and healthy glow, salon peels are an effective and affordable option. On the other hand, if you are looking to treat a more serious skin issue such as severe photodamage, hyperpigmentation, or scarring, it's best to consult with a dermatologist or other medical professional.