Things to Know About Getting a Professional Chemical Peel

Peel in peace.

If we’re being honest, there are a number of beauty treatments out there that are a little intimidating. Anything that involves hot wax, sharp objects, and medical-grade anything does sound a bit scary, even if the results are amazing. One popular treatment that people are often hesitant to try is professional chemical peels. However, there isn’t anything to be afraid of! We asked an expert the things to know about getting a peel so you can book with confidence.

1. Go to a pro.

"Chemical peels use a chemical agent to dissolve cellular bonds and excess skin cells," explains ELEMIS VP of Global Education Annet King. Although professional peels vary in strength, you don't want to try using pro peels at home. King adds, "Always consult a well-trained professional to see what they recommend, to evaluate your response and possible contraindications. Never try this at home!" A professional can also assess what peel would be best to treat certain skin issues such as acne or hyperpigmentation.

2. You don't really peel.

When you think about chemical peels, you likely picture your face shedding like a snake. But in reality, t's actually not that intense. "One misnomer about peels is that you peel," says King. "Sometimes you can’t see the peeling, as it’s not in sheets [of skin], but you are peeling and have successfully exfoliated your skin."

3. Don't book your appointment before a big event.

Want to look fresh-faced for a big event? Be very careful about booking a peel too close to the big day. (Remember that scene in Sex and the City when Samantha was forced to wear a veil post-peel? Yeah, let's avoid that!) It's especially important if you've never had a peel and don't know how your skin is going to react. Although a lot of peels require zero downtime, it's a chance you still don't want to take.

4. It's not extremely painful.

Just the word "peel" might have you cringing as you imagine layers of skin being blasted, but because a lot of peels today are focused on minimizing downtime, the actual procedure won't be as harsh. Therefore, you don't have to worry about shrieking out in pain. It's actually post-peel when you might find your skin to be most tender.

5. Complications are most common post-peel.

Are you worried something could go wrong during the procedure? Although there is always that possibility with any procedure, King states that the majority of complications happen post-peel. And they're usually caused by a lack of compliancy from the person who received the peel. Whoops! So, if your dermatologist gives you instructions, make sure you follow them closely!

6. Be careful of what products you use after your peel.

One thing that can cause problems after a chemical peel is using any old product on your face. Even the products that you normally use in your skincare routine could irritate your face post peel. This is especially true if they contain harsh ingredients. Ask your derm what gentle products you should use on your face post-peel to reduce the likelihood of irritation.

TryNeutrogena Extra Gentle Cleanser

7. Beware of the sun.

We know that the sun isn't good for our skin already, but getting too much sun when you've just had a peel is a major no-no according to King. Make sure you have your floppy hat and big sunglasses handy. Check with your derm what kind of sunscreen is okay to put your complexion.

Trytarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30

8. Unexpected things can cause irritation.

We've heard about the wrong products and the sun, but King says things like steam rooms and saunas can also result in adverse side effects and possible hyperpigmentation and scarring. Even drinking can affect your peel! Therefore, it's best to stick with water or juice until your skin is completely recovered.

9. Peels don't last forever.

You can think of chemical peels like facials. They give you results, but they don't last forever. If you want to maintain your skin, a lot of people recommend getting peels every four to six weeks, however, that can vary depending on the type of peel and whether or not you're treating a specific skincare concern.

10. You can get similar results at home.

Not ready to book yourself in for a pro peel? King says that there are peels that are meant for at-home use that don't use as harsh ingredients.

Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel

Try: ELEMIS Papaya Enzyme Peel 


Have you ever tried a peel? Have a favorite at-home option? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!