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Skin Care: Then and Now—Exfoliation

By: Lydia Sarfati
Posted: September 3, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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In many states, estheticians were able to work with peels up to 35% with a pH of 3.5. Although this is a lower strength than doctors performed, it really had an impact in the esthetic world. It gave skin care professionals an extra tool to really wow clients and show instant results. It also made getting the beautiful skin that all clients desire more accessible. Nothing makes me feel better than when my clients feel great about how they look—and that is exactly how peels make them feel!

As the years continued, more peels were developed for esthetic use, and estheticians were able to address different skin care concerns using different peels, such as beta hydroxy acid (BHA) peels, such as salicylic. BHAs are fantastic for acne because the chemical can penetrate deeper into pores than an AHA peel and is a bit stronger, as is needed with problematic skin. This exfoliation is impactful without being too abrasive to the skin and, with so many clients affected by acne today, it has become a real miracle-worker.

Chemical peels today

With all the advancements that have been made to exfoliation methods, consumers can tend to be a little heavy-handed with at-home products. When it comes to exfoliation, advise your clients to think of the skin like an apple. An apple with skin looks plump and hydrated; however, when you peel it, it becomes brown and shriveled. This is why, when exfoliating, it is important not to overdo it—the skin is a protective barrier.

When working with clients, it is important to be selective in the types of chemical peels that you offer. Being that everything moves so quickly nowadays and technology advances every time you blink, it is a certainty that peels will be made more effective as new ingredients and formulations are discovered. However, for the time being, there are some lovely peel options available.

Some peel recommendations include a proteolytic enzyme peel, which is derived from the latex of the green papaya fruit. This exfoliant gently removes old skin cells, revealing brighter, younger-looking skin by digesting dead surface protein. Although enzymes can sometimes be unstable, new stabilizing technology has really advanced these peels, and the future will probably bring even further improvements.