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Are Home Chemical Peels Safe?

No mater what we may say to the contrary, the truth is we all like to look good. The first thing most of us notice about other people is the appearance of their faces. Quite often, though, we are our own worst critics when gazing into the mirror. The lack of glow to our skin, blemishes, and fine lines seem magnified upon inspection. For these reasons, skin care procedures, like chemical peels, have become very popular.

Demanding work and family schedules leave us little time to schedule the luxuries into our already busy days, including facial appointments. Cosmetic companies recognized an opportunity and developed home chemical peel kits to meet this burgeoning market. They were created for you to use at home, at your convenience, and with cost and safety in mind. Chemical peels are designed to improve the appearance of some typical skin changes, including:

  • Acne marks
  • Sun damage
  • Brown spots
  • Crow's feet around the eyes
  • Minor scars
  • Wrinkles around the mouth

It is very important to remember that even though you can perform chemical peels from the comfort of your own bathroom, the basis of the peels are acidic chemicals that can be very damaging if not used exactly as directed. Chemical peels may not be suitable if you have very sensitive skin, and they could pose serious risk, like any medical treatment, if there is the possibility of an undiagnosed health condition. If you have never had a chemical peel, you may be wise to have your first one administered by a dermatologist, or at the very least seek a consultation on the appropriate home kit for you type of skin. While it is great to save possibly thousands of dollars on a peel, you certainly do not want to risk burning and scarring potentially resulting in permanent damage.

There are four basic chemical peel groups:

  • Alphahydroxy Acids (AHA) Peels: Mildest peels, and are derived from sugar. They are used to treat sun spots, acne, as well as pigmentation problems.
  • Betahydroxy Acids (BHA) Peels: Mild-to-medium strength peels, and are oil soluble based. These peels are used to treat bacterial-based acne and skin problems.
  • Trichloroacetic Acids (TCA) Peels: Medium strength peels, are longer lasting, but take two to three weeks to completely heal. They are used to treat acne, scars, sun damage, and wrinkles.
  • Phenol Acids Peels: Harsh peels, are considered dangerous and generally not performed for safety reasons. They have been linked to heart arrhythmias. They take several weeks to fully recover.

For a home chemical peel, begin with the mildest peel available. If solution concentrations are clearly identified, also select the lowest concentration mix if you are a first-time user. Follow all directions provided in the kit to the letter. Always do a skin patch test first to determine your level of sensitivity to the acids provided for the peel. You may discover that even the mildest concentrations are too strong for your skin type, and if you proceed with application you may end up with a second degree burn covering your face. After completing any home chemical peel, also be certain to follow any instructions provided for the healing process. It is also recommended that after any type of face treatment you remain out of the sun, but any sun exposure you do experience should be limited and you should always wear a sunscreen.


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