Treating Skin with a Facial Peel

A facial peel is one type of cosmeceutical (cosmetic products that are compounded with pharmaceutical grade ingredients) that we compound here at MacDonald’s Pharmacy. People can use a facial peel for many things such as photo-aging, brown spots, melasma, etc. A facial peel can be very superficial, superficial, medium, or deep. The deeper the peel, the longer the healing and recovery process. However, you can see more dramatic results with deeper peels.

A facial peel uses many chemical agents:

  • Salicylic Acid
    Commonly used for acne. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It also has an anesthetic effect that helps decrease the amount of redness and discomfort. These are generally associated with peels.
  • Glycolic Acid
    Used for many indications, like actinic keratosis, hyper- and hypo-pigmentation, melasma and photo-aging. The doctor’s office often performs these higher-concentration peels.
  • Gluconic and Mandelic Acids
    Less-irritating acids due to their high molecular weight. These acids are best for patients with darker or sensitive skin, treating acne, photo-aging and rosacea.
  • Retinoic Acid
    Used in peels in concentrations ranging from three to five percent. This yellow peel must remain on the face for six to 12 hours before being washed off. It has many clinical benefits, such as helping to soften skin texture, decreasing wrinkles, improving skin color and increasing dermal volume. The recommended use is once a week. However, under a doctor’s order, this is an office procedure.
  • Jessner’s Solution
    Used for many indications including acne, photo-aging, hyper- or hypo-pigmentation and melasma. This peel gives you a high amount of exfoliation, is low in toxicity and is safe for patients with sensitive skin.
  • Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
    Works by precipitating proteins and causing necrosis on the skin. It creates a real frost on the skin during application. It is used as a superficial peel at 10-25 percent and a medium depth peel at 35-50 percent.
  • Phenol
    Used in deep facial peel applications. This peel is performed at the doctor’s office under general anesthesia or heavy sedation. It is dispensed in sterile amber glass vials. A highly trained doctor must perform this. Results may be permanent, but recovery is a long process. It could take up to six months to recover but patients can use makeup to cover up the peel areas seven days after application.

There are some things we can do to help speed up and heal the peeling process once it is complete. Generally, the patient has to wait at least one week before applying any products on the skin. We do not want to kill the inflammation; you want to keep the irritation for best results. We can use products such as aloe vera, vitamin E and emu oil. It is also a recommendation to use a sunscreen agent, a skin smoothing agent such as calendula, green tea or chamomile and a short-term use of a corticosteroid to help with edema on the skin.