Monday, May 3, 2010

Post Peel: What Not To Do

At the Skin Studio, each peel, and the post-care regimen that goes with it, is customized. The post-care strategies that I recommend depend on the skin's indications and the peel performed. There are still a few common tempting but counterproductive home remedies that may occur to someone experiencing rough scaly skin right after a are a few of the culprits, and the reasons why they won't help your skin after a peel (and may even compromise the results you are trying to achieve).

As you read, keep in mind that the process of chemical peeling, whether a light single-acid lunchtime peel, or a blended-acid intensive peel, is intended to break apart the bonds between the dead, flattened cells in the Stratum corneum. Bonds broken, the cells can shed rapidly, which in turn stimulates the proliferation of new, healthier cells which are pushed up from the Stratum basale, or basal layer. During that shedding process, the remaining Stratum corneum cells (located immediately under the layer affected by the peel) become the new surface layer, complete with a fresh new protective acid mantle.

The specific peeling solution and application technique all impact how many layers of corneocytes (flattened Stratum corneum cells) are denatured. The more intense the peel, the more layers are impacted, the more visible shedding and peeling, the more fresh new skin is exposed, the more important it is to follow your post-care regimen precisely.

While it seems like it would be refreshing, relieve the tightness, and hydrate the skin, using water (of any temperature*) topically on your skin after a peel is a no-no. Water applied topically does not have the power to hydrate skin cells. To the contrary, applying water dilutes and even rinses away the protective lipids and acid mantle that your skin (especially post-peel) is struggling to maintain. The result is increased evaporation of the skin's precious moisture stores--a process also know as Transepidermal Water Loss. Another reason to avoid water immediately post-peel is that by temporarily softening and swelling the dead cells, it may encourage those cells to release prematurely from the healthy skin below. In addition to the risk of scarring, this means that the new skin is exposed before it is ready to the environment and all its aggressors. Skin that is peeled back prematurely after a chemical peel usually appears red and raw, sometimes oozy, and will often display rashy or pimple-like irregularities, often defeating the purpose of using a chemical peel to uncover fresh healthy skin.

Tea bags, cucumbers, aloe gel
See: Water. Again, as soothing as certain non-skincare items may seem, with a chemical peel we are trying to achieve a nice, even leveling of the Stratum corneum, and disrupting the skin's protective mantle just as it is forming runs contrary to that goal.

Coconut, Vitamin E, and other single-ingredient oil products
I usually hear this one from my fellow health-conscious individuals. Like water, while many of these healthy oils will do wonders for skin (and epithelial tissue in general) when taken internally, the benefit simply does not extend to topical application. The reason for this is that single-ingredient oils simply do not have the chemical profile to hydrate the skin in any way. Effective moisturizers are a blend of emollients and humectants. While certain oils make great emollients that are capable of softening, occluding, and lubricating skin, the absence of humectants--ingredients that actually bind moisture and trap it in skin tissues--means your skin will actually feel drier and tighter once your layer of oil has worn off.

Active topicals
After the blowtorch-like heat of a chemical peel, most of my clients are ready and willing to follow my instructions regarding discontinuing their active topicals such as retinoids, hydroxy acids, vitamin C and other antioxidants, lighteners, and botanical correctives. Waiting the prescribed time period before resuming these important components of the home care routine ensures that skin won't be shocked into a painful, itchy histamine response. Need I say more?

Chemical peeling is the best and least invasive way to brighten skin, soften fine lines, diminish discoloration, even texture, clear impacted pores, and enhance effectiveness of topical home care. For all those impressive results, it's no wonder that a little caution must be exercised. Following your customized post-peel instructions to the letter, taking special care not to introduce anything additional into the mix (no matter how tempting!), and protecting your fresh new skin from the sun will yield the most radiant results!

*even ice, which is an important part of an acne regimen, should be avoided in the days after a peel.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog post. Thank you for the information!