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A guide to chemical skin peels

Nina Sutton is a beauty and style expert and on-camera host. She is also the author of the The Chic Moms Guide to Feeling Fabulous. Nina has appeared on shows such as The Doctors, E! Fashion Police, Oprah Winfrey Network, The Ricki Lake ...

The right skin peel for you

Chemical skin peels reveal fresh, glowing skin and help you look younger. With so many from which to choose, picking the correct one for your skin type and needs can be tricky. Because the more aggressive formulas require expert application and some downtime, it is imperative to understand peels, how they work and which peel is the best fit for you. No matter what strength peel you choose, sunscreen afterward is a must.

Skin peel

Light Peels

Light peels generally consist of alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) applied in various strengths and time periods to suit your skin. These include glycolic, lactic and fruit acids and are the mildest of the peel formulas. These are best for uneven pigmentation, fine lines and acne. They also smooth rough, dry skin, and when mixed with bleaching agents, can correct pigmentation problems. These are the best peels for patients with limited time (or desire) for downtime. Because these are light peels, a series is usually needed.

Medium Peels

Medium peels usually consist of trichloroacetic acid (TCA). They reduce wrinkles, superficial blemishes and scars, uneven pigmentation (including sunspots), and dark under-eye circles. Like AHA peels, TCA peels can be used in varying strengths and time periods for the desired result. After a TCA peel, a crust generally forms over the treated areas, or the skin begins to peel in sheets. Full results usually appear in three to seven days.

Deep Peels

Deep peels are the most intense. One treatment usually produces results that last for years. Due to the high strength, they are usually applied to the entire face. Because they have a bleaching action as well, they are not recommended for dark or olive skin tones. Deep peels use a chemical called phenol to remove the damaged outer layers of skin, resulting in a new, smooth layer of skin. Complete healing can take months, and the results are usually dramatic.

Brightening Peels

New to the market are peels that help lighten and brighten skin and brown spots. These peels typically start with an in-office treatment followed by treatments you do at home. These peels help decrease melanin levels in the skin and can correct hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.

More expert beauty tips:

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