In the world of skin treatments, chemical peels can seem like one of the scarier options. After all, what are even the benefits of committing to a red, blistered, and raw face? Well for one thing, it doesn't have to be that way because chemical peels can treat every skin type— even rosacea-prone and sensitive skin. It just depends on the strength and frequency of the peel. To find out what those strengths and frequencies should be and demystify this seemingly, well, terrifying treatment, I emailed with Rebecca Kazin, MD, of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology.
According to Dr. Kazin, everyone can get a chemical peel because it helps accelerate cell turnover and treat concerns such as hyperpigmentation, aging, acne, and rosacea. Additionally, chemical peels help "deliver a higher concentration of active ingredients in the skin than at-home products, and they allow your at-home products to penetrate better," says Dr. Kazin. And who wouldn't want her skincare products to work as well as they could? Dr. Kazin further reveals that while there are various types and levels of peels, light peels like PCA SKIN's Sensi Peel are generally the mainstay of treatment. "[Light peels] are great because they are quick, have little downtime, and can really refresh your skin," she explains.
According to Dr. Kazin, light peels are a great option for those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin as well as those who are new to chemical peels. However, there are other options for different concerns. For example, those with age spots or melasma can generally get traditional peels while those with extra-oily areas can even have treatments layered for added efficacy. Regardless of what type of peel works best with your skin though, Dr. Kazin explains that the key to keeping your skin balanced is by maintaining the frequency of your peels and managing your at-home skincare.
If you're looking to correct a concern like pigmentation, Dr. Kazin says you can get peels as frequently as once per month. Looking for more of a refresher or to generally maintain your treatment? Try scheduling your peel for once per quarter, or try using an at-home peel between more spaced-out treatments.
If you do try an at-home peel, Dr. Kazin reminds that even though the ingredients generally are not as strong as those in a professional peel, it is important to not apply too much or too frequently. Think of a professional peel as a treatment and an at-home peel as upkeep.
Whatever type of peel you prefer and however frequently you get one though, there are adjustments you should make to your skincare routine to keep your skin healthy and balanced. "Typically I ask patients to hold retinols a few days before and after a peel," says Dr. Kazin. Following a peel, she also recommends using a gentle cleanser and moisturizer "until all redness and flaking has resolved."
While it may not be possible to totally avoid red and sensitive skin post-peel, if your treatments are tailored to your skin type and you adjust your skincare routine appropriately, you can look forward to all of the benefits with less recovery time. If you're interested in scheduling a chemical peel, be sure to talk to a certified specialist or dermatologist to know what ingredients and peel frequency will work best with your skin.