article skin peels

6 Face-Peel Myths Busted

"Sex and the City" watchers will remember Samantha’s run in with a chemical peel that left her wearing a black veil to Carrie’s book signing party.

Stories like Samantha’s may leave you wondering if getting a chemical peel is worth it. Vir tú esthetician Elizabeth Gervasi hopes to dispel the myths and calm your fears by answering these 6 facial-peel questions.

What is a peel and how is it different from a facial?

A peel is an exfoliating procedure that’s more aggressive than a classic facial. It sloughs off dead skin cells, bringing fresh, new skin to the surface. Peels also help prevent clogged pores. Many clients visit Vir tú monthly, alternating between peels and facials.

What are the typical benefits of facial peels?

There are two types of peels: gycolic and salicylic. Gycolic acid is a natural ingredient derived from sugar cane. It’s an exfoliator that safely removes the outer layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin.

Gycolic acid peels can:

  • Reduce dullness in the complexion that accumulates over time
  • Reverse sun damage
  • Even out your skin tone
  • Stimulate collagen formation that keeps your skin firm

Salicyclic acid peels usually attracts a younger demographic because they are particularly effective in helping acne.

Salicylic acid peels can:

  • Relieve pore congestion 
  • Provide anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects

For both types, the greatest benefits are seen after a series of approximately 6 peels over the course of several months.

Are there any drawbacks?

Peels may cause mild inflammation, itching or dryness depending on your skin sensitivity. These effects can be minimized by using the correct products and completely following aftercare instructions.

Vir tú uses a product line that strictly adheres to the state-regulated 20% acid strength. Anything higher than 20% must be applied by a dermatologist and is more likely to cause uncomfortable side effects (a la Samantha Jones)

Why do most women get a facial peel?

Sun damage is the most common, and also the most challenging, reason women undergo a chemical peel.

Gervasi recommends a series of wintertime glycolic peels to repair dark spots because that’s when your sun exposure is at a minimum. Of course, this should be supplemented with diligent sunscreen application all year round.

Are there alternatives to these types of facial peels?

Organic (or enzyme-based) peels are also common, although slightly less aggressive than glycolic or salicylic acid peels. Vir tú offers a pumpkin enzyme peel seasonally.

Microdermabrasion uses a minimally abrasive instrument to gently brush away your dead skin cells, removing the thicker, uneven outer layer.

How do I know which type of peel is best for my skin?

Elizabeth recommends consulting with an esthetician to determine the best type of peel for your skin type and concern.

Keeping an open mind and trusting an esthetician’s advice is always the best approach. Remember that your skin is your first defense against the environment, and it’s always working overtime to protect you. Treat it well!

Updated June 6, 2016

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