What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is an acid solution that is applied to the skin. It dissolves the outermost layer of skin cells, which then peels off over the following days to reveal the fresher, younger layer below. Peels are very effective in treating a large range of skin concerns such as aging, sun damage, acne, mild scarring, improving skin brightness, and evening skin tone.
Peels can be light, moderate or deep. Light peels require no downtime from work and your normal activities. Moderate peels may require a day or two, and deep peels can require a week or more of downtime to allow the skin to fully heal. Estheticians not working in a medical setting only perform light to moderate peels. Deep peels can only be performed by a physician, or under a physician’s supervision, for your safety.
Preparing for treatment
Most skin colors and types can benefit from chemical peels, though it is best to check with your esthetician about which peel might be right for you. If you’re taking acne medication, Retin-A or Accutane, talk to your esthetician and/or doctor about stopping the medication before and during treatment to avoid complications. Your esthetician can review any other contraindications with you prior to your treatment to determine if a chemical peel is right for you. Be sure to answer all questions honestly and completely on your consultation form prior to your peel.
After the peel
After most peels, the skin will be pink to red, and look shiny and tight. Applying sunscreen of SFP 30 or greater to the skin for the next 48 hours is vital. You must also stay out of the sun, as your skin will be very sensitive to UV rays and could be damaged by sun exposure. The skin will begin to flake or peel within 2–3 days after the treatment, unless you had a lactic acid peel—these encourage moisture retention and may not produce any actual peeling. Sun-damaged areas of your skin will appear darker at first, then lighten. This is normal. Deeper peels can produce peeling for a week or more. To assist in removing the flaking skin, an enzyme peel or light microdermabrasion treatment is sometimes scheduled a week or so after the initial peel. A series of peels is usually recommended for maximum results, and may be necessary for treating challenging issues such as hyperpigmentation. Your esthetician will recommend healing products to use for the week or two following your peel. These will soothe and nourish your skin, and aid in its recovery. Usually, it is best to avoid makeup during this time to allow the skin to heal and function without interference.
What is microdermabrasion, and how will I benefit from it?
Microdermabrasion is a method of exfoliation that uses a machine to remove dead surface skin cells and initiate cellular turnover.
The two most common methods are crystal and diamond.
The crystal method uses a wand which sprays fine crystals onto the skin, loosening and removing dead skin cells, while simultaneously using vacuum suction to remove the used crystals and dead skin. It has been compared to a mild “sandblasting” of the skin. The diamond method uses a diamond-tipped wand to sand and resurface the skin, combined with suction to remove the dead skin cells. Both methods stimulate blood circulation and revitalize collagen production, which promotes younger-looking skin. The degree of exfoliation depends on the number of passes, level of crystal spray or coarseness of the diamond wand, the pressure and suction used, and the frequency of treatment. Microdermabrasion can be helpful to treat aging and sun-damaged skin, altered pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, stretch marks, and some types of acne and acne scarring. It is especially effective in treating the under-eye area and crow’s feet. Results may include improved skin tone, reduced visual appearance of aging, fewer breakouts, diminished appearance of scars, refined skin pores, renewed elasticity, and a healthy glow. Microdermabrasion may be recommended for those with chemical sensitivities and can be used on most skin colors and types, although there are some contraindications. Ask your skin care professional if microdermabrasion is right for you.
Preparing for treatment
The procedure is noninvasive and requires no preparation.
What to expect
Most clients do not find the procedure to be painful, and it requires no anesthetic. The esthetician will instruct you to relax as she applies the wand to your face in a slow, methodical way. One microdermabrasion treatment should take 30 minutes to an hour. There are no side effects, and your skin will look glowing and fresh almost immediately after the treatment. Some more aggressive treatments may cause the skin to look slightly pink and tender for a few hours afterward. You can resume normal activities and apply makeup and moisturizer directly after your microdermabrasion session.
Home care after microdermabrasion
Because fresh skin has been newly exposed, it is important to apply sunscreen and to avoid direct sunlight and tanning booths following your session. Also, avoid products containing harsh chemicals, dyes, or perfumes until the skin has fully healed. Your skin care professional will explain the right home care regimen for you, and send you home with written instructions.
I’ve never been waxed before. How is it done?
Waxing is the most common method of hair removal in spas today. Hair on any part of the body or face can be waxed. Warm wax is applied to the area and then removed, bringing the hair with it. There are two types of wax: hard and soft. Hard wax, which is easier on delicate skin, is often used on the face, underarms, and bikini area. Soft wax is used on the legs, arms, back, and chest.
Waxing reduces hair growth when performed at regular 30-day intervals. Because waxing pulls the hair out by the root, it grows back softer, finer, and thinner. The more you wax, the less hair grows back. Waxing should not be performed if you have particularly sensitive skin, because it pulls off a couple of layers of skin cells along with the hair. Waxing can cause tenderness and swelling. In addition, some medications will cause the skin to react badly to waxing. Don’t wax if you’re taking Retin-A, Accutane, or any acne prescription.
What’s the difference between dermatology, cosmetology, and esthetics?
Dermatology is a branch of the medical profession practiced by licensed physicians who specialize in disorders of the skin. Esthetic practice specifically excludes diagnosis, prescription, or any other service, procedure, or therapy that requires a medical license. If you’re being treated by a dermatologist, your esthetician can provide complementary and support therapies. In addition, estheticians are trained to recognize early signs of many medical conditions affecting the skin, and will refer you to a dermatologist in such a case.
Cosmetology is the study of beauty treatments including nail care, hair care and styling, makeup application, skin care and more. Esthetics is one branch of cosmetology; some estheticians work in other branches of cosmetology in addition to their skin care practice.