I had relatively good skin in high school–no horrific acne or even no major breakouts. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I started to get those really deep, super painful hormonal breakouts on my cheeks. It seemed like no amount of drugstore (or Sephora!) skincare brands took care of it, until I started a nightly regimen of trentonin cream.
The creme helped my skin immensely, but I was still left with the after effects of those breakouts in the form of scars. Even when my skin was clear, I still had to worry about foundation and concealer to cover up the scarring.
I see Dr. Amiry from Reston Dermatology for my annual skin cancer checks, and his office has a medical aesthetician. They offer free skin consultations, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they recommended.
Why I Did a Chemical Peel
I met with Heather about two months ago, and she studied my skin under a bright light. The reason I’m so vigilant about skin cancer screenings is because I love the sunshine. I spent many summers at the beach working on my tan, and even though I rarely burn (thanks, Mom!) I still like to be careful. Thankfully, the sun hadn’t damaged my skin too much, and Heather thought I would benefit from a series of chemical peels. Not only would they help get rid of my scars, but they would operate as a way to keep my skin looking good as I get older. (She described them as a preventative measure–heading off potential damage before it had time to set in and then require harsher methods.)
Chemical Peel Process
The actual process of a chemical peel is pretty quick and easy. Heather suggested I try the Vitalyze peel. One of the active ingredients of this kind of peel is salicylic acid, which is used to treat acne. It also uses retinoic acid, which helps unclog pores and prohibits sebum. This kind of peel is superficial, but helps with acne, acne scarring, wrinkles, and other damage.
After cleansing my skin and performing a quick microdermabrasion treatment (to help the peel penetrate deeper), Heather gave me a little fan to hold–explaining that it would help with any discomfort. She painted on the mixture, and it did start to burn a little. (Think of how you feel after a really strong astringent.) The fan helped, and the burning subsided after a few minutes. Once she finished, my face was shiny and tight. She recommended I leave it on for at least six hours, but I ended up just sleeping in it and washing my face in the morning. (Make sure you use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer–nothing with harsh ingredients!)
Can I wear makeup after a chemical peel?
I did wear makeup the next day, but I use Bare Minerals which is safe and healthy for your skin. I just used a light dusting to cover up the faint redness.
The Peeling Begins
By Friday night (one day later), I had started to peel.
I stayed home all day Saturday while my skin continued to shed unattractively.
I actually had a birthday dinner Saturday night, and I was still full blown peeling. In order to not scare the people I was dining with, I brought a little bag of tricks with me.
How to cover your peeling:
Makeup remover wipes (the sensitive kind) were my best friend. I would gently wipe my face where the peeling was–trying to remove the obvious hanging sections. Make sure you don’t scrub hard or try to peel your skin yourself–you don’t want to damage your already sensitive skin! The wipes help to just get rid of the obvious dead skin.
Next, I would use a nice creamy lotion in the really dry spots. I did read that you shouldn’t over moisturize as your skin WANTS to come off, but I just did in small spots. Then I would dust the powder foundation on top, and try not to move my face muscles too much. Swoopy bangs worked too, but I would still excuse myself to the bathroom semi-regularly to make sure I didn’t look too zombie like. Heather also had slipped me a few samples, and one of them was a skin oil that worked amazingly on the dry patches. I could just layer it on top of my foundation, and it helped when I didn’t have time to remove all my makeup with the wipes and reapply.
I found that I peeled more quickly in places that moved a lot–like around my mouth and on my cheeks. Places that move less (like my temples or forehead) took longer to peel.
I was finally done peeling by Monday morning, and my skin looked amazing.
I noticed a HUGE difference in my skin. A lot of my scars were much lighter, and my skin seemed brighter. Plus, it was baby soft. (Also, I am so blonde in this picture. Wow.)
My peeling went really quick–from Thursday night to Monday morning. Besides the obvious shedding of all my skin like a lizard, I had no other uncomfortable side effects.
That is…until I got my second peel. DUN DUN DUNNNNNN. I’m currently going through it now, and let me tell you–it’s not the wonderful experience my first one was. (Although, Heather reassured met hat everything is normal. Which is good, because I was frantically googling DO I HAVE A CHEMICAL BURN and WILL I LOOK LIKE A ZOMBIE FOREVER)
Stay tuned for the next post about my experience! Also, Heather is going to be answering some FAQs about the chemical peel process, so if you have any questions that I didn’t answer here, leave them below!