Wednesday, 08 January 2020 10:28

Seasons of Peels: Determining the Proper Peel Series Throughout the Year

Written by   Liz Garrison

Depending on the time of year, certain skin care treatments can be optimum or not so much. Each season has its own events and its own climates, making it best to plan a loyal client’s skin care calendar for the whole year at once.


From a revenue perspective, this is both exciting and daunting at the same time. But presenting an annual treatment plan by season for specific reasons is appreciated by many women and even men. Take the clients that are very reliable for their monthly facials – the ones that never fail – and present to them their yearly plan in full detail.


By picking and choosing from treatments by season, depending on their needs and goals, the professional can give clients a year of spectacular possibilities.




Weeks before Christmas and New Year’s and into January is the absolute best time to do a consultation with clients and schedule their chemical peel series to look amazing for Valentine’s Day and the spring renewal ahead.


Chemical peels are an intensive series of approximately four to six weekly sessions and are executed best during the colder months, with fewer daylight hours and less active outdoor time. This will reduce chances of hyperpigmentation during the shedding stages, as well as redness, and will allow the peel to heal faster.


There are many choices of peel acids to use and different skin care lines will showcase different peels that can be used. The basics – glycolic, lactic, salicylic, TCA, and Jessner peels –are the classics and the foundation of any peel series.


Glycolic peels are the best antiaging peel for fine lines, as the acid molecules are the smallest and penetrate furthest into the skin. They are made from sugar acids and can have a drying effect on the skin. Recommend the use of a thicker moisturizer during and for a few weeks after the peel as you talk to the client about a set of skin care products specifically for before, during, and after the peel series.


Made from milk acid and best for dry or sensitive skin, lactic peels have slower progress than a glycolic peel of the same strength but will cause less redness, scaling, or a tight, dry feeling. Lactic peels can also be a great choice if the client has to be in the public eye or on camera during the peel series. They are gentler and create a warm, wearable glow with each use.


Salicylic peels are probably the best exfoliators around for combination and oily skin for their ability to reset sebaceous glands to their normal level of production. This is the best news for combination skin because these peels will not dry out the skin on the perimeter of the face.


These peels produce a long-term solution to problematic skin. A good series of salicylic peels can normalize the oil production for the entire year. Because there is less oil production, the pores do not clog and blackheads and milia do not appear. But, note, this does not solve all acne problems, such as those caused by bacteria. Also, salicylic acid is made from willow bark, so do not use them if the client is allergic to aspirin.


TCA peels are a great option for hyperpigmented skin or clients with larger pores. TCA is made from trichloroacetic acid, which is a relative of vinegar. Expect some shedding and a little downtime for the client. They may not want to go out or to work during the peeling time unless the professional skin care line protocol lets them use a little jojoba bead scrub to clean up the snake skin each morning. Make sure when performing the peel to give complete instructions ahead of time on exactly how much downtime they can expect from these peels based on information given by the line’s representative or trainer.


One of the most complex peels is a Jessner peel. A Jessner is a medium depth peel made from lactic acid, salicylic acid, and resorcinol to penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin, especially for adult acne-prone skin. These peels can be intense and are best performed in a medical spa or dermatologist’s office. If working in another setting and it seems the client could benefit most from a Jessner peel series, consider paying it forward to another professional and refer the client out for the winter season.


It is important for clients to consider that once chemical peels have been applied to the skin, they increase the odds of skin cancer by three-fold. So, make sure they are really into a sunscreen regimen before setting up a peel series.


Winter is the heavy-hitter for facial peel appointments and setting up a good professional skin care home regimen. Start clients off right by recommending the same brand of homecare products as the peels used in treatments, as they will be formulated to work the best with each other. Be sure to let the client know that some of their products will change from season to season and goal to goal. They should be prepared to purchase the products they need to use at home, in addition to the exfoliation services they will receive.




Once the snow melts and the greenery begins to unfold, sleeveless shirts and shorter hemlines begin to appear. This is a good time to do a four- to six-week peel series using a buffered or lower percentage glycolic, lactic, or salicylic peel for the face and décolletage.


If the client is not at risk of skin cancer and diligent about sunscreen, spring can be the best season for glycolic or lactic body peels. Body peels are good for most ages. They smooth fine lines on the body and give the client a fantastic glow. These are much more in-depth than using a manual exfoliator on the body and provide a long-term exfoliation as a base for summertime bronzers.


A recommended body peel is a glycolic and lactic blend. The glycolic penetrates into the epidermis and the lactic helps keep the skin on the body moisturized. Often, these peels are low enough in strength that all the client feels is something like soft sand coming off in the shower.


Be sure to allow enough time for the body peel to be performed according the skin care line protocol and add some extra time the first few times performed on a client. There is a lot of ground to cover. Imagine twenty to thirty faces worth. Also, only recommend body peels to clients that you have worked with at least once before. And, consider that it takes a lot longer to peel a 250-pound client than a 125-pound client – which is also something to consider when pricing these types of services in the spa.


Before committing a client to a body peel, realize that getting a peel even once on the face, as well as on the body, can increase their odds of getting skin cancer in all areas treated by 300%. So, it is important to also get them to commit to a full body mole check performed by a dermatologist at least once a year.




Unless you live in the far northern regions, summer is just too hot and has too much direct sunlight for professional peels. This is the time of year when clients spend the most time outside and chemical peels require diligent sunscreen. Also, the heat from the sun can cause hyperpigmentation for some people who have just had a peel. This is not a great idea.


Long gone are the days of tanning while covered in baby oil and iodine. In today’s age, self-bronzers and spray tans rule over the summer sun. But to get that glow just right, monthly body scrubs are in order. These manual scrubs may be used in a spa treatment or self-applied with just a little assistance from a friend or loved one. They are often made from sugar, coarse salt, or jojoba beads.


Sugar scrubs are a personal favorite, as the sugar is a great exfoliator and seems to melt into the skin just as enough manual exfoliation has taken place. However, do not use sugar as the scrub medium if the client is diabetic, as the sugar will get into their bloodstream through the skin and can cause problems.


If looking for a more intense scrub than sugar, find one that utilizes kosher or coarse salt. The salt does not melt into the skin and allows the client to scrub away until they are sure they have completed the job. It is possible to scrub too much, so be careful not to let the skin become too red or sore as it is worked on.


Another choice exfoliation ingredient is jojoba beads. The nicest thing about jojoba beads is that they are spherical and do not have jagged edges like sugar or salt. This allows the exfoliation to happen without creating micro-tears in the skin that can cause premature aging. Manual exfoliators with jojoba beads can be harder to find and will definitely be a more expensive product but well worth the price.




Autumn leaves means it is time to shed dry and dull skin cells that have accumulated during all the summer fun in the sun, in spite of a client’s constant daytime use of sunscreen. It is also time to treat any freckles and sun spots that have popped up due to poor sunscreen usage. Use professional serums containing kojic acid or licorice root to reset melanocytes to their natural shade.


Fall is a good time to slip into a retinol serum treatment plan, as well. Retinols are vitamin A serums that increase cellular turnover and add a consistent glow to the face. Retinols can be found in professional-grade serums and moisturizer creams, as well as by prescription in a dermatologist’s office.


Take care while using retinols to not wax the face or eyebrows, as retinol use with waxing can cause skin to completely lift up during the process and leave an unsightly mess and maybe even a scar once it heals.


Exfoliation is best performed year-round and knowing when to use each type of exfoliation for a client is just the beginning of their love affair with their own skin. Beyond anything else the professional can do for their client, a good exfoliation is the key to a beautiful, detoxified, healthy glow.


Sit down with clients and discuss the best way to plan their yearly exfoliation from the very beginning of the year. They will appreciate a professional perspective and you will be able to fill your appointment book throughout the year.



2019 Liz Garrison



Liz Garrison, MBA, L.E., L.M.T., is a startup spa product developer and educator in spa business development and management. She has five years of day spa ownership experience and has been an active licensed aesthetician and massage therapist in five-star hotel spas for a decade. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Dallas.

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January 2023

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