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Should you do a chemical peel at home?

Updated: May 27, 2023

Hey, I know that home peel might be a little tempting.  Maybe you’ve got a resource for some chemicals from a friend or an internet site and you’re thinking this might be just what you need.  It might sound like a good plan, but I’m here to tell you:

It’s probably not.

Now I know a lot of professional skincare providers use their downtime to catch up on some good exfoliation and stimulation for their skin.  Since they have the training to do peels and some experience with the chemicals, they are more qualified to play with the peels outside of the treatment room because they are familiar with how the chemicals work and react with the skin (and most likely "their" skin because we skinsters like to experiment).   And if they’ve been doing peels fairly regularly, their skin is likely much more resilient.  Add the fact that they are probably already using good skincare and getting good nutrition that will help their skin manage the stress makes this whole idea less risky from the start.

But for everyone else?

First of all, a peel compromises the immunity of the skin, temporarily- which ends up compromising the immunity of the body because everything is connected.  The outcome of a peel is never (ever) guaranteed because there is no way to know what's going to happen to your body after a peel -like maybe a fender bender or some other stressful thing that would be an added stress on the body making it so your skin might not bounce back the way it should. And we don't always know exactly how the skin will respond- even to a peel solution we've used before, even though if you've tolerated a specific solution, more than likely you will tolerate it again. That’s why it’s always a good idea to peel progressively, starting with gentle peels (or something like an at-home peel pad like THESE or THESE) and adjusting the strength of the solution (or how often you use them in the case of peel pads) as you gain more experience with the chemicals.

And how deep would that peel even be?

You may not know until a few days to a week after you apply it.  The reason is there are many other factors involved in deciding whether or not you are a candidate for a chemical peel to begin with.  There are contraindications that you need to be aware of before you even consider doing a peel.  Things like:

  1. Have you used products with retinol recently?

  2. Have you used Accutane in the last year?

  3. Have you recently waxed your lip, brows, etc…

  4. Have you used a chemical depilatory?

  5. Have you had laser resurfacing or any other skin resurfacing or rejuvenating treatments recently?

  6. Are you using any topical prescriptions or internal prescriptions that could create problems?

  7. Will you be able to stay out of the sun, away from all sources of heat (including the heat generated by your own body when you exercise)?

  8. And. More.

The reason we should go to a professional for serious peeling is because they know the questions to ask, and which peel solutions will be the best to achieve the outcome you are looking for.  It’s not that you can’t dig up all of this information on your own, but if it’s not something you do regularly, it’s hard to remember all the details about what you are working with.  For instance, glycolic acid peels can be inconsistent in their penetration and outcomes and generally need to be neutralized while salicylic acid peels can be toxic when applied over too large an area of the body (depending in part on the strength of the solution) and are reactivated by water, which means that if you try to rinse the solution off, you are actually reactivating it and sort of reheating it.  This can actually be really scary if you don’t know why the peel burns more when you are trying to calm it down.

I have always told my clients that peels can be good, but that also depends a lot on pre-care and post-care.  You need to condition the skin so that it is healthy and prepared for something a little more stimulating and you want to use good products for the long haul. Usually, a professional will tell you to prep the skin for several weeks before you have a peel professionally done.  They will also recommend that you have a good, healthy, balanced diet and possibly look into supplementation that might help your skin heal well.  There’s a certain amount of preparation necessary to create a healthy canvas for a peel to be a good idea, to begin with.  Average skincare products are not going to cut it.  You need quality, active ingredients in your skincare on an ongoing basis.  You need a healthy nutritional intake on an ongoing basis.  ***And for sure, FOR SURE, you need to have been using (and continue to use) good quality sunscreen (you guessed it) on an ongoing basis.

So for most of us, a chemical peel is not going to be the best idea.

But…now is DEFINITELY the time to practice regular self-care.  Now might even be the time to start some new skincare or home treatments that give you results over time instead of trying to “get er done” all at once.  And going gradual is gentler to your psyche, more manageable, and much more easily controlled.   (I can help you create a solid plan with some great products if you are so inclined.)

So while trying to do a full-on chemical peel at home may not make sense, what does make sense is RADICAL SELF-CARE.  This includes:

  • Drinking plenty of water (and green tea is said to help with immunity).

  • Getting enough rest

  • Getting a little sunshine, if possible.

  • Eat as “right” as you can.  Avoid sugar and too much caffeine because they are bad for the immune system.  Research ways to boost your immune system.  (Here’s a good place to start.)

  • Think Good Thoughts.  Say good things, both to yourself and others.

  • Meditate or pray.  Sing good things.

  • Move your body.  YouTube has a gazillion videos to help you get this done.  Friggen Prancercise if you need to (we kinda did that today lol). 

  • Watch funny things.  Listen to funny things.  Say funny things.  Do funny things (again: Prancercise, lol).

So is peeling appealing right now?  Peel pads might be a good place to start, along with some supportive skincare like I mentioned. It's just good to know a few things before you consider it.

Thanks for reading!!


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