Post Peel Effects and Angry Skin
When I was a child, there was an expression that my Cosmetologist aunt would tell me every time she gave me a perm "No pain, no gain" she would say.
Even today, many women believe more is better and that you have to take extreme measures to achieve beauty. If you ask anyone who has angered their skin with resurfacing techniques or stripping agents, they would beg to differ. Sometimes experience is the best medicine. Over-doing something once is often enough for most of your clients. Of course, there are those that will continue to over treat (usually exfoliation or anti-acne therapies) in hopes of more rapid results. So, what should you expect from over processing the skin and what can be done to calm it?
Take aggressive exfoliation for example, the effects of which can occur in just one application depending upon the strength of the peeling agents. Moderate to deeper peels are specifically designed to impart a chemical burn which results in the skins repair mechanisms kicking in to heal the skin thus revealing new tissue. In other cases, clients may react due to combination therapies they are undergoing with their physician or due to medications they take. Fact is, there are many possibilities that could explain why skin becomes overly reactionary even when it shouldn’t.
Outside of extensive skin analysis which includes performing a preliminary patch test, there isn’t much else you can do except proceed with caution and evaluate the response as a peel is processing. If significant redness, excessive heat or intolerable discomfort occurs it is a good idea to remove the peel gently and thoroughly with cool water or a neutralizing agent (this will not apply to TCA).
Most peels are performed without complication and yet the effects of treatment can be significantly different from one person to another. A client themselves could experience different results from one week to the next. Hormonal changes, oil content, dehydration and environmental exposure all play roles in how our skin functions and thus in how it reacts to and heals from chemical exfoliation.
When your skin becomes angry, inflammation, irritation, sensitivity and extreme tightness occur. It is best to treat the skin with formulations that improve water content, desensitize the skin, reduce inflammation, ease stress and rebuild the skin. In some cases, the immediate after effects also include swelling at the application site, although it is a rare occurrence. In addition, "hot spots" can become visible several hours up to a few days after the peel. These will look similar to a scab and should not be removed or picked at since infection and pigmentation disturbances can arise.
Post peel flakiness can take anywhere from a day to several weeks to free from the skin depending upon the depth of the peel. Tightness, sensitivity and an
extremely dry appearance can last just as long and should be treated as mentioned above. Once healing is complete, a gentle physical exfoliant may be used to expedite the removal of dead cells. If the skin has not completely healed, Ceramides, particularly Ceramide III (Phytosphingosine composition), have been shown to accelerate desquamation without the risks associated with other methods of removal. For this reason, they are being researched more thoroughly for their role in post peel care.
Regardless of how deep the skin is peeled, it needs to be nurtured after chemical exfoliation methods. Avoid products with added exfoliants like Glycolic Acid until after the skin has healed completely. Instead, apply ingredients that stimulate tissue growth such as Epidermal Growth Factor / EGF while normalizing the lipid content of the surface of the skin to promote healthy barrier function.