Words by Janell M. Hickman
We get it, grooming and skincare have gotten a lot more complex over the past few years. The days of good ‘ol soap and water have definitely been laid to rest. Get ready to tackle the next skincare frontier: chemical peels. But, before you click over to another story, hear us out—chemical peels can be the quickest solution for a handful of your skin care issues.
“Professional facial skin peels [usually performed in skin care clinics and spa] are exfoliating treatments that remove superficial dead skin cells,” explains Kathryn Khadija Leverette, a licensed aesthetician, acne specialist and ethnic skin expert of Clinically Clear Skin Rehab Center. “Basically a peel solution is applied to the face and neck with swabs or a brush for a few minutes, then washed off.”
Essentially in a session or two, peels can help gradually lighten dark spots and reduce fine lines, soften dry skin, dissolve dead skin cells, improve rough texture, helps open up and dry out active acne, and exfoliate razor bumps. Do we have your attention now?
CEO Skin By Mamie, Mamie McDonald, whose clients include Victor Cruz, CC Sabathia, Omari Hardwick, Jay Z, Sean Combs and Amar’e Stoudemire, mostly recommends peels to her clients who frequently wear hats or helmets. “I’m also often asked how to lighten or eliminate the hyperpigmentation which occurs due to acne, eczema, psoriasis, excessive sweating while working out, or just poor diet,” she says.
“The constant rubbing from a cap (or a strap) causes constant friction against the area on face and forehead. This sends a message for the melanocytes (cells that produce color) to protect the area by sending more melanocytes to further protect area from further drama. Hence, dark spots develop.”
Although, there are numerous at-home options, both of our experts agree. A pro is the best way to go. “Chemical peels sold online for in-home use can be dangerous because you can’t gauge the potency, so it’s possible to injure your skin. They may give a smooth feeling to the skin and remove some surface dead cells, but can’t come close to providing the benefits of a professional peel,” adds Leverette who works with Danny Glover, Laurence Fishburne, and Ray Lewis.
McDonald concurs, sharing that no matter how light or dark your skin tone may be, improper peels can have “devastating results,” from burns to excessive hyperpigmentation. Other factors to note, medications, skin sensitivity levels, sunscreen usage (or lack thereof) can also alter the result of a peel.
“There are various types of peels that only a certified dermatologist should perform,” explains McDonald. “A professional should determine the appropriate treatment based on the skin type and specific skin concern—VI Peel, Beta Peel, Jessner’s Peel, Lactic Acid peels are a few of the well-known options.”
It’s no surprise, professional peels are stronger and contain higher level ingredients alpha and beta hydroxy acids possibly with added brightening ingredients like kojic acid, mulberry, licorice, vitamin C, arbutin, and bearbeary extract, to name a few. “I prefer rinse off peels for men. Once removed, they take rinse dead skin cells off with them,” explains Leverette. “Leave-on peels can cause drying and brisk flaking for up to a week.”
Before a peel, experts recommend that you do not shave, be sunburned, irritated, feverish or ill. “If skin feels sensitive, or if you are using potent products, schedule a brief follow-up beforehand,” warns Leverette.
“The night before a peel, do not apply active products if your skin is sensitive. If you have shaved, over-scrubbed, used a shaving powder or depilatory, are sunburned, have cold sores, been picking, “dotting” skin lighteners or over-using active skin care products—your peel should be postponed.”