Chemical Peel: Damaging or Healthy?
Chemical peel. The phrase itself makes most shiver. How could chemicals, associated with being biohazards and dangerous to health, help your skin? Peeling also follows spending too long in the sun and receiving sunburn, bringing to mind intense pain. What do chemicals and sunburns have in common? A skin reaction to external stimuli, whether chemicals or the sun’s rays. But they are very distinct.
Sunburn: Damage First, Peel After
When you forget to wear sunscreen or reapply it, you may experience a sunburn. Like pollution, UV rays expose the skin to free-radical damage. Because oxygen occurs in single atoms with unpaired electrons, free-radical damage means electrons scavenge your body for other electrons to pair with. When free radicals try to form a pair and steal electrons from other molecules, they generate new free radicals. This is oxidative stress. As they move about, free radicals damage cells, protein and DNA. The alteration of the structural integrity of these molecules impacts their functioning. Sun exposure resulting in sunburn may lead to skin cancers, aging, and other types of cancers.
When your skin peels due to sunburn, it is trying to recoup damage. Peeling helps expel damaged skin cells that can otherwise present a threat to the body. Damaged skin cells can become cancerous later on, which is why sunburn increases your overall cancer risk. Peeling from a sunburn actually performs a healthy function for your skin. It is important not to conflate the damage of sunburn with the process of peeling following it.
Benefits of Chemical Peel
Unlike peeling following a sunburn, peeling from a chemical peel does not follow skin damage. Your skin peels from a chemical peel to remove damaged layers of skin. However, the chemicals in a peel only trigger your skin’s natural shedding process. Moreover, the chemicals are safe and painless to use on skin.* These include retinoic acid from vitamin A, salicylic acid from wintergreen, and kojic acid from fungi. Thus, a chemical peel does not expose your skin to free radicals in order to function. To the contrary, many chemical peels contain antioxidants that help counter free radical damage. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage by giving up electrons to free radicals, thus stabilizing them.
Chemical peels help your skin turn over skin cells fast. That means the tired, damaged skin cells will no longer hang around. The benefits of chemical peels are plenty. You may observe a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles, reduction in pore size, smoothing of acne scars, and shrinking of sun spots.* In order to see how chemicals can help stimulate your cellular processes, you must follow all directions and safely use the chemical peel. Wearing it longer than intended can increase the risk of irritation. We can help you by administering it ourselves at The Laser Cafe of San Diego, CA.
Verdict: Chemical Peel OK
Do not forget–peeling from a skin care treatment such as an in-office chemical peel is distinct from peeling due to sun damage. We can help you achieve a nice, healthy peel to help your skin expel damaged skin cells. Our med spa offers a Vi Peel, complete with an at-home kit to protect your skin and minimize normal side effects from peeling, such as dryness.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary and are not guaranteed.