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The term chemical peel is not a pretty one. In fact, in a round of free association, it wouldn’t be surprising for the term to conjure up facial disfigurations worthy of super villains in horror movies. However, judging from the extremes that women seem to be willing to go to in pursuit of younger looking skin, the name may actually work in its favor.
Regardless of the effect, the name may have on you, chemical peels are not actually as radical as they may sound. In fact, chemical peels are actually made of fruit and milk acids and have been used for centuries to keep ladies’ skin soft and blemish free. Here’s what you can expect when using alpha hydroxy acids.
Types 0f AHAs
Glycolic and lactic acids are the most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids because they are best suited to skin penetration. The five major types of AHAs are:
- Glycolic acid; derived from sugar cane.
- Lactic acid; derived from milk.
- Citric acid; derived from oranges and lemons.
- Malic acid; derived from pears and apples.
- Tartaric acid; derived from grapes.
How They Work
Like most ingredients earning the title ‘peel,’ AHAs work mainly as exfoliants. To separate the dead skin cells in the epidermis, allowing them to slough off, creating room for new skin to take their places. Collagen and elastin production are stimulated in the process.
The use of AHAs has been associated with the reduced appearance of wrinkles, rough skin, and hyperpigmentation when administered regularly.
The results of a chemical peel are similar to those of microdermabrasion. Chemical peels erase fine lines and give the skin a smoother appearance.
It should start working within one to three applications but should be repeated every three to six months to maintain results. If done as a corrective treatment, the peel is administered every six weeks until the desired goal is reached.
- Removes Dead skin Hyperkeratinization refers to the abnormal buildup of dry, rough skin with impaired ability to retain water. Exfoliation by AHA removes the dead skin cells from the surface layer, allowing for a smoother, softer epidermis, with less fine lines and wrinkles.
- Prevents Photoaging Consistent use of AHAs has been proven to reverse results of premature aging of the skin. They have been associated with the reduction of wrinkles, thick, leathery skin, and hyperpigmentation.
- Reduces Acne Hyperkeratinization is also a major cause of acne. When dead skin cells merge, the flow of oxygen is blocked, allowing acne bacteria to flourish. AHA helps to dislodge dead skin cells, reducing clogging, and inhibiting production of acne.
- Reduces Hyperpigmentation Alpha hydroxy acids can inhibit the formation of melanin, removing discoloration that mar skin tone.
- Moisturizers The water binding abilities of AHAs make them superior moisturizers.
- Improved Delivery of Ingredients AHAs can thin the skin layer, enhancing penetration of other ingredients.
- Ingrown Hairs In dislodging dead skin cells form pores, AHAs can free trapped ingrown hairs.
Would you or have you used a chemical peel? Tell us about it. We want to hear your perspective on AHAs.