Facial peels offer an effective and practically noninvasive way to restore and rejuvenate skin. Acid peels have been incorporated in skin care practices for decades. Chemical peeling (chemexfoliation) is a skin care treatment where acids of varying strengths are applied to skin. Whether the acid comes from natural or synthetic sources, it exfoliates skin and stimulates a cycle of cellular regeneration and skin restoration.
The use of chemical peels can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt. Thousands of years ago the Egyptians successfully created blends for superficial peels by combining animal oils, salt, alabaster, and sour milk to smooth and rejuvenate skin. Later, the Greeks and Romans used poultices of mustard, sulfur, and limestone to exfoliate and improve skin texture. By the late 1800s, medical doctors began using phenol, or carbolic acid, to diminish hyperpigmentation and acne scars. Today, carbolic acid is used for deep chemical peels to reduce severe scars, prominent wrinkles, and pre-cancerous lesions.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are three different types of chemical peels: superficial, medium, and deep. Alpha hydroxy acids are often superficial peels while beta hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid, are used for medium peels.
Phenol is used for deep peels. It is usually recommended by a physician and not performed more than once every few years. Up to two to three medium peels annually are recommended for fresher, healthier-looking complexions. By contrast, light, superficial peels are considered safe on a monthly basis. Both medium and superficial peels can be performed by a skin care professional in a medical spa or a holistic skin care practice.
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Elina Fedotova is the formulator and CEO of Elina Organics, an award-winning cosmetic chemist, and an aesthetician. She handmakes her professional skin care line in her laboratory using holistic principles and organic ingredients from around the world. In 2007, she founded the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners (AHSCP), a nonprofit organization that provides ongoing training and education for professionals.