Chemical Peels and Safer Skincare may seem like opposing forces. Find out why I incorporated them into my safer skincare lifestyle and how they may end up saving my life!
I have been a safer skincare advocate for 4 years now and have found the transition to be incredibly beneficial. I have remained committed to closely monitoring the chemicals I choose to bring into my home, their safety levels, as well as weighing their benefits against the risks.
I am also a huge fan of the sun. In my younger years, I married baby oil with prolonged sun exposure and burned repeatedly. Not smart. Let’s get something clear: I believe wholeheartedly in benefits of LIMITED unprotected sun exposure. I also know that best dietary practices often prevent burns when coupled with limited sun gazing. However, anyone who pairs oiled skin and hours in the sunshine is asking for damaged skin; and that’s exactly what I got.
I have been using a combination of safer products at home over this past handful of years. And they have made a significant difference in my fine lines, sun and age spots, pore size and overall skin quality. However, my sun damage is extensive and this is concerning to me as I age.
Because of that concern, I started researching different methods that could help remove the hyperpigmentation before it has the chance to turn into something more dangerous. Some popular treatments for removing top layers of damaged skin include:
- Chemical Peels
- Laser Treatments
- Microneedling (with and without PRP <vampire facial>)
- Plasma Fibroblast
Some of the above mentioned can also be used in combination with each other like microneedling and radio frequency, which can amplify the results.
So why did I choose to go the route of a chemical peel and why was it even necessary?
I do not take sun damage lightly. I have seen what it can turn into and my father has had to have cancerous lesions on his face treated. I remember visiting my Great Aunt Olive (a farmer her whole life) in the hospital with half her nose removed. I have seen enough to know that I want to treat the sun damage on my own body before it’s too late, even if the damage was done at my own hands.
I have been working on my skin routine for 4 years now. I have used the following products, which have provided great improvements in pore size, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and overall appearance and quality of my skin. Also be sure to read my post on why I chose safer skincare HERE:
I am forever grateful for the transition my skin has been able to make using safer, gentle products that do not irritate or contribute to toxicity in any way. That said, I want to make sure that I am not a sitting duck for future cancer cells morphing from my residual sun damage. For this reason I started digging into all the possibilities for sun treatment mentioned above and decided to try a chemical peel. I specifically chose the VI Peel for several reasons.
- Suitable for all skin types, including darker skin
- Less painful than other chemical peel procedures
- Minimal downtime or recovery
- Peeling is easily masked with moisturizer
- Patients can return to normal activities immediately
- It is less harsh but equally as, if not more, effective than other peels
- It is more cost effective than other techniques (ex fraxel laser can cost $1000 per area where a peel may only cost $200)
Images above: 1. before peel 2. with peel on (left for 4 hours) 3. Day two 4. Day three 5. Day four 6. Day five 7. Day 7 with light concealer
For these reasons and a few others, I decided to see how my skin might respond to a VI peel. Keep in mind, I do not have histamine intolerance/chemical sensitivities nor am I particularly sensitive to any topical product. So for me, the risk vs rewards seemed like a no brainer. I wanted to address some of the questions you all had regarding this treatment as well…
Q. Chemical peel vs laser….why that choice? How many treatments will you have?
A. Deeper laser treatments can run in the thousands, have lots of downtime, and for some it is even recommended you go under anesthesia. I will have 3, one a month.
Q. I know nothing about peels, just wondering what skin issues they target!
A. Peels can target pore size, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, tightness of skin (which loses elasticity with time). They help with hyperpigmentation such as with sun damage, as well as with hormonal hyperpigmentation such as with melasma.
Q. Does it hurt (during the peel/post peel)? Did you have it done at a derm office or spa?
A. The peel itself does not hurt at all. The first night I had an itching/mosquito bitey sensation that would migrate. This is normal but was not painful. I had it done at a doctor’s office that has 2 aestheticians on staff.
Q. Does it burn, sting, or hurt at all?
A. The procedure itself was very short lived and did not hurt. After the initial peeling began, I had tight sunburn-feeling skin but I was never in extreme pain. Applying the 3 post-treatment wipes did sting because they have Vitamin C and retinoids as they are meant to continue the treatment process at home.
Q. I am so curious about if these are mainly for texture or if they are for blackheads too.
A. Peels can treat acne, acne scarring, and other pore related issues. Blackheads can be treated too.
Q. I heard it was painful?
A. Some chemical peels can in fact be very painful. This VI peel was not luckily, one of the reasons I chose it.
Q. Is it an at home peel?
A. There are people who do them at home, but this is not recommended by the maker of the peel.
Q. How many do they recommend to get desired results?
A. Some people only need one. But they recommend 3 consecutive peels, one a month to get cumulative results.
Q. Were you able to find info on ingredients and potential side effects? Detox after?
A. The ingredients are: TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid), Retinol, Phenol, Salicylic Acid, Vitamin C and a proprietary mineral blend. I didn’t detox after other than taking my Takesumi Supreme. I did use some Beautycounter products to help the healing of my skin in lieu of their cream and sunscreen.
Improvements I saw after a week included better skin texture, brighter skin, smoother skin, and my sun damage has definitely been reduced. I want to be honest about something – while skin texture and appearance are great, my main goal was to reduce and reverse sun damage. Looking and feeling youthful is one thing but reversing potential disease and improving my HEALTH is definitely my primary focus. Everything else is just a bonus.
It took over 7 days for the peeling to completely resolve, but it could easily be covered after days 3-5. It was during those days that the active peeling was the most intense. Since it is recommended to do 3 consecutive monthly peels, I will do the two additional ones. One alone is not necessarily enough to erase the years of sun abuse I imposed upon myself. That said, I definitely saw improvements with just one. If you are opposed to chemical peels, consider looking into microneedling (with or without radio frequency), fibroblast (not for the faint of heart but also chemical free minus the numbing cream), or laser treatments. And if you prefer safer at home treatments, please talk to me about products that can help at the comfort of your own vanity. I am happy to help with recommendations and products that won’t break the bank but are powerful and effective!
Here is my after photo with no filter. You can see I have a tiny bit of peeling around the bridge of my nose.