I met a woman at a baby shower, and upon discovering that I’m an aesthetician, she became extremely interested in talking to me. She proceeded to tell me about the chemical peels she had been purchasing on eBay. I advised her that she was putting her skin at great risk-she doesn’t know exactly what she’s getting, and true chemical peels are not intended to be done at home without a professional. (Her solution was to pay me to come to her home and apply these questionable products to her face at the risk of a lawsuit-no thank you!)
The average beauty customer doesn’t understand percentage and pH in a chemical peel, but knowing the difference could be the key to better results. For example, the aforementioned woman wanted me to apply a 100% TCA (trichloroacetic acid) solution to her face. First of all, because I am not a dermatologist, I am not allowed to apply such a high percentage. Secondly, 100% solution doesn’t tell you everything about the product. She was unaware of the product’s pH, which is very important.
The percentage of a chemical peel essentially tells you how rough the product is on the skin, while the pH tells you how deep it is going into the skin’s layers. The lower the pH, the deeper it is more likely go. Now, this doesn’t mean you should run out and get your first peel with a pH of 1 tomorrow! Our skin’s pH runs between 4.5 and 6.
Ideally, you should take chemical peels in baby steps. While you want a decent percentage (something a little rough on the skin to improve texture, remove layers, etc.), you also want it to balance with how deep the product is going to penetrate. Otherwise, you’re just burning off superficial layers, walking around with that red face, with nothing to show for it in the long run.
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