You may be apprehensive to use a peel because you’ve heard about the often-scary chemical peel side effects. Although there is some risk to using high concentrations of alpha hydroxy acids, most people can avoid problems by using a peel properly. Usually, there are only complications if you use too strong of a peel without using something mild first, and most are not that bad. Rare occurrences shouldn’t keep you from using chemical peels because there are so many benefits. They can reduce wrinkles, acne scars, and brown spots, increase smoothness, and for some people improve skin thickness and collagen production.
One of the more serious side effects of chemical peels is severe over-exfoliation. Too much skin is removed and the new skin is raw and burned. This skin may heal badly, with a rough texture and sometimes scars. There can be permanent discoloration, black streaks, and scabbing. It is normal to have some redness, irritation, slight inflammation and for skin to peel. Any irritation beyond this was unintended.
If you’ve experienced over exfoliation, there are things you can do. If this was a peel done by a professional, call immediately and schedule an appointment. You may want to seek out the services of a different esthetician if you don’t feel she was qualified based on your chemical peel side effects.
You’ll need to allow the peel to heal completely before you know if there is any damage to your skin. Let the skin scab and do not remove any peeling skin. Do not use any form of exfoliation, not even a mild scrub. It’s very important to let the skin and scabs slough off naturally. You’ll also need to use a good moisturizer frequently. You may need to give your skin a day or so before using anything if your skin was severely burned. Avoid serums and strong wrinkle creams, as they may have high concentrations of active ingredients like retinol and Vitamin C, which can irritate raw skin. Mild creams should be fine and low levels of Vitamin C might be helpful. You can also use aloe and other botanical ingredients to soothe your skin. Some aloe gels contain topical anesthetics, you can get pure aloe gel at a health food store if you prefer.
A good way to heal your skin from complications is using a product that contains copper peptides, specifically the GHK-Cu copper peptide. Many of these formulations were meant to be applied after peel to help the skin heal faster.
Sometimes the peel will go well, but you’ll get chemical peel side effects afterwards due to sun exposure. Even indirect sun can cause problems after a strong peel. Any form of heavy exfoliation makes your skin more prone to sunburn. The fresh, new skin is far more sensitive than normal. Even after your skin has mostly healed, you still need sun protection. Some people have gotten permanent discoloration from mild exposure to sunburn. You need to use sunblock daily for two weeks or more. Avoid the sun entirely for the first few days, especially if you’ve over exfoliated. If you must be in the noonday sun in the first week after a peel, wear a wide brimmed hat in addition to the sunblock.
If you’ve experience negative chemical peel side effects like scarring, there is still hope. After the skin has healed and rested for a few months, the damage can usually be repaired by microdermabrasion, laser therapy, or another, milder chemical peel. You can avoid problems in the first place by using chemical peels properly. Don’t start off using a strong peel. Use a product that contains a mild concentration of alpha hydroxy acids for a few weeks first, like a glycolic acid lotion. This will get your skin used to the acidity. For your first peel use something in the 15%-20% range. Use this level for a few times before moving up to a 35% peel and beyond. It will take time to get rid of wrinkles and acne scars, so don’t rush the process and damage your skin by using something too strong too fast.