Everything You Wanted to Know about Chemical Peels, Part One

24 Oct

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.

my skin starts peeling!

I stayed home all day Saturday while my skin continued to shed unattractively.

my skin continues to peel

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!


11 Responses to “Everything You Wanted to Know about Chemical Peels, Part One”

  1. Franziska October 24, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    You actually look really adorable with your skin peeling – I mean it, that picture is really cute (minus the peeling of course). About how much does it cost to do a treatment?

    • The Preppy Leopard October 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      Geez, you are too sweet. I felt like a mummy the whole time.

      The peel I got was $200, but I think it varies depending on where you live (and the kind of peel you get). I think a lot of derm offices do package deals too.

  2. Laura @ Twelve by Six October 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    I am so interested in reading the follow ups to this, thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve always wondered about how these work. Your skin looks fantastic in that last picture, you’re pretty much glowing. Can’t wait to hear about part 2.

  3. Kate October 26, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    Very interested to hear part two!

    My skin is the worst it has ever been. No major breakouts in high school or college but post college I am breaking out every month (hormonal/time of the month kind of thing). Yes, I go there in my comments!

    I just got a clarisonic. I am giving it a shot since it’s a 90 day return policy

  4. Kristy December 10, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Wow!! What a difference and your skin looks so good! From what it seems, the Toronto chemical peels are really useful and it’s exactly what I need! I will follow a treatment like this, but after the Holidays, because I want to be able to go out! 😛

  5. Chemical Peel Burn March 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog.
    A great read. I will definitely be back.

  6. Joy January 30, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

    I ran across this and noticed it sounds like what I am experiencing. But I also just saw it was 4 years ago.😟. What ended up happening with your second peel??

  7. chelley01 April 5, 2017 at 3:35 am #

    When you work makeup the day after the peel how did you cleanse your face to take the makeup off ? Is there any special way of doing this? I wore makeup a few hours after my peel it was glycolic 50% I only had the peel on for two minutes. And about 6 hours after I wore makeup and I washed it with a Kojic acid soap I’m really hoping I didn’t ruin the affect of the peel but so far my skin doesn’t feel irritated so I’m hoping everything is fine.

  8. Debby Cleghorn July 23, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    I had my 2nd Peel yesterday. Way different than the first time. Almost as soon as it hit my skin it began burning and I do mean burn. Today my face has several marks where it looks like I have rug burns. I’m dreading the next couple of weeks as peeling takes place. I believe it’s because she did a quick dermabrasion first.


  1. Everything You Wanted to Know about Chemical Peels–Part Two « The Preppy Leopard - November 7, 2012

    […] Read Part One! […]

  2. SkinMedica’s Rejuvenize Chemical Peel, Days One-Two « The Preppy Leopard - February 14, 2013

    […] out my posts here and here if you want to start from the very beginning of my chemical peel […]

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