In a youthfulness-oriented industry like facial aesthetics, change is constant. There are always new ingredients, new products and new devices driving treatment innovations and patient results. But, one thing never changes: clients’ needs. Acne, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation remain the core conditions seen in aesthetic practices, and patients’ motivations for seeking care has not changed either. The bottom line is that they want to look better and feel better about their appearance. Practitioners can now take innovations and meet those needs safely and effectively.
Chemical peels offer spa-goers a cost-effective solution that can be customized to address their concerns regardless of skin tone. Chemexfoliation has been used for hundreds of years for both clinical and aesthetic purposes. Why have peels had such longevity? The answer is simple: The acids used in these treatments are predictable.
That predictability is critical for achieving optimal outcomes. Chemical peels provide less skin trauma compared to mechanical exfoliation, and they allow practitioners to control the depth of penetration. In addition, peels have the ability to address multiple issues simultaneously, from texture to pigment to acne, all in one visit.
Not all chemical peels are created equal, so practitioners need to ensure that the selected chemical peel will safely treat the full spectrum of skin tones, while also ensuring efficacy. Identifying the optimal peeling solution will provide your clients the highest level of correction.
Chemical peels are classified based on how deeply they penetrate the skin’s layers: superficial, medium depth and deep peels. The deeper the penetration, the greater the overall exfoliation and cellular regeneration achieved. A peel’s depth is determined by several factors, including acid types, percent concentration of the acids, the solution’s pH and the amount of time it stays on the face. Superficial peels are best utilized to establish safety, but for true correction a medium depth peel will need to be incorporated into the treatment regimen.
Although the acids in chemical peels are predictable, skin response is determined by multiple factors. This is where understanding the anatomical and physiologic skin variances will assist in selecting the best solution. Identifying the optimal peel for your client will be determined by their primary skin concern and their Fitzpatrick Skin Type.
In 1975, dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, MD, developed the Fitzpatrick Scale that categorized skin response to ultraviolet (UV) light into six categories based on skin tone. Understanding someone’s response to UV light assists skin care practitioners in recognizing a client’s physiologic response to external triggers like lasers and chemical peels. In general, Fitzpatrick I to III skin response has less risk than Fitzpatrick IV to VI.
Regardless of someone’s Fitzpatrick Skin Type, it’s always recommended that a spa pro begins with a complete skin assessment before selecting the peeling solution. Additionally, instituting progressive peeling will reduce unwanted side effects and build a patient’s skin tolerance while gradually improving their results and overall skin health.
Nancy Miller, RN, MBA, is the director of education and research for The Vitality Institute, makers of the VI Peel. She has served the aesthetic industry for 18 years as a provider, educator, lecturer and content creator. Miller is a registered nurse with an MBA in health care management.