Cleopatra is said to have bathed in ass's milk. What the historians don't tell you is that the milk was undoubtedly sour; lactic acid, found in milk, is a very good natural peel. After bathing in this, her skin would have been much softer, brighter and generally rejuvenated. Mark Antony was smitten.
The Science of Skin
Our skin renews itself every 28 days or so, the layers gradually rising to the surface before being shed. As the squamous cells (they are called this because of their flat appearance under the microscope) are pushed to the surface by new cells beneath them, they can become "bunched up". This can lead, over time, to an appearance of dullness or dehydration.
Stimulate New Skin Cells
Under the electron microscope, the surface looks rough, with old squamous cells (which are dead) hanging on until they fall off. Peels remove this outermost layer of dead cells and also stimulate the underlying dermis to produce new cells. There are many types of peel.
Categories of Peel
There are 3 main categories of peel. Firstly,superficial, which causes very little (if any) actual peeling, but removes the dead superficial layer and "freshens the skin". Secondly, medium, which usually causes peeling (and is the type most of you recognise from Sex in the City) and finally, deeppeels. These require a general anaesthetic and will not be covered here.
We use Fire & Ice™ from iS Clinical. This consists of a specific mixture of glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid. It is applied during the course of a facial treatment, using skin products tailored to your specific needs. This is carried out over the course of 45 minutes and has no "down time". A course of 3 is generally recommended, but single peels are excellent for special occasions (a few days before). These peels are an excellent treatment for general lacklustre skin, or dehydrated skin, and are a good way of "kick starting" a rejuvenating regime. They are a fantastic treat.
These peels are generally recommended for older skin, or skin where more intensive resurfacing and stimulation is desired. Fine lines are reduced, dullness from a build up of squamous cells is treated (by removing them) and the dermis is stimulated to produce new collagen. They are excellent in the treatment of acne scarring and can be safely used during active acne phases where the results can be quite dramatic. We use TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels for our medium depth peels, and they come in 2 strengths, 15% and 18%.
A medium peel is carried out using TCA peels from Dermaceutic.
There is a down time with this peel. The day of the peel, the skin is red and looks like sunburn. The following day, this redness persists and the skin can look quite dry and need regular application of moisturiser. The day after that, the dryness is more apparent and peeling may start. This is the least attractive day! By day 4 peeling has started and by day 5 it is nearly always complete, revealing fantastic brand new skin. Again, these peels will give a much better result after a course of 4. One peel, however, is also good to kick start a new skin care regime.
There are only a few, but they should be mentioned.
It is important to use a high factor sun block after the medium depth peel. It's important anyway, but more so after the medium depth peel as hypo or hyper pigmentation can occur after exposure to sunlight. Very rarely, the skin can show a reaction to the TCA peels, which lasts longer than the expected 5 days. Very, very occasionally we may need to prescribe hydrocortisone cream. This is rare.
As a rule, these peels are an excellent way to provide skin resurfacing, dermal stimulation and general rejuvenation. They are just one of several treatments we use to rejuvenate skin. In fact, the best results are often achieved when they are used in conjunction with other treatments such as Botox or dermal fillers.
Superficial iS Clinical Fire and Ice no downtime peel, £125.
Medium depth TCA Peel, £125. Course of 4, £400.