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5 Tips On Chemical Peels From Terri Wojak

1. Evolution

Resurfacing treatments used to improve the appearance of the skin date back to the ancient Egyptians and are still popular today. Several methods using everything from mineral scrubs to chemicals have been used in different cultures to treat the skin.¹ 

The cosmetic benefits of alpha-hydroxy acids were discovered when sour milk, containing lactic acid, was used in baths to soften the skin. In the mid-1800s, the use of aggressive exfoliation methods was introduced to treat various skin conditions. 

These sometimes-extreme methods were successful, but at an expense, the more aggressive the treatment, the higher the risk of side effects and complications. Today, we see a surge in mild to moderate chemical peeling techniques as providers and clients look more toward progressive treatments as opposed to aggressive treatments.

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Terri Wojack

Contribution by Terri Wojak

Terri Wojak is a highly sought-after professional with over 25 years of experience in the aesthetic industry. Terri runs her own education company, Aesthetics Exposed Education, and is a master educator for DermaConcepts.  She is a respected authority on skin care in a medical setting, education, and business development on multiple levels. Wojak has built over 50 individual courses based on skin care. More than 100 articles by Wojak have appeared in a multitude of industry magazines and she has published two books, “Aesthetics Exposed: Mastering Skin Care in a Medical Setting & Beyond” in May 2014 and “Mastering Medical Esthetics” debuted in 2009. Terri has trained thousands of estheticians and medical professionals on the importance of incorporating skin care into cosmetic medicine, ultimately helping providers and clients alike.

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2. Effects

Cellular turnover is a natural process during which dead skin cells are released from the stratum corneum of the epidermis and are replaced with new cells from the basal layer of the epidermis. In healthy skin, cells turn over approximately every 28 days until the age of 30, after which this natural exfoliation process decreases at an estimated rate of about ten days per decade.²

This decrease in the skin’s natural exfoliation can contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, acne, and a dull, dry appearance. It is well known that chemical peels exfoliate keratinized cells from the outer layers of skin. This occurs as acids break down protein structures that anchor cells to each other, known as desmosomes. An equally important function of exfoliation is to create a controlled wound response. 

When skin responds to acute inflammation, it releases growth factors that trigger the production of new cells, including fibroblasts, resulting in a healthier appearance. Stimulating the rate of skin exfoliation in a controlled manner can reduce superficial imperfections while simultaneously building a healthier skin structure.

Get In Depth Chemical Peel Education with Terri Wojak at Aestheticsexposed.com

This is just the tip of the iceberg from Terri Wojak. When it comes to information about chemical peels, there’s so much that you can learn. There are several types of peels available today including straight acids and blends. It is important to understand how the various acids work individually and together. A thorough training with Terri Wojak on how peels work will provide a foundation that is necessary before working with a specific product line(s). With the industry’s constant evolution, it is of the utmost importance to stay educated.

If you’re looking for more information on Chemical Peels, take Aesthetics Exposed Chemical Exfoliation Class with Terri Wojak.

3. Benefits

Peels are beneficial for many skin conditions including aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, and even sensitive skin. Increasing the rate of exfoliation and triggering collagen production improves the visible signs of aging. One of the contributing factors to acne is dead skin cells accumulated in the follicle, along with excess sebum and c. acnes bacteria. Through proper exfoliation, we are getting rid of the accumulated dead skin and the acidity level fights bacteria. 

Hyperpigmentation is formed when melanocytes produce melanin to protect keratinocytes. Peels help reduce hyperpigmentation by exfoliating the melanin-filled cells. Sensitive skin is usually indicative of an impaired barrier. Gentle peels improve the barrier by getting rid of damaged cells and stimulating the production of new healthy cells. Regardless of the concern, a thorough assessment of the client’s skin is necessary to ensure there are no contraindications.

4. Strengths

Percentages and pH differ greatly depending on the peeling agent being used; for example, a 10% TCA peel is stronger than a 40% lactic acid peel due to its chemical structure.³ The concentration of the peel depends on the percentage of acid in the solution; the greater this percentage, the stronger the acid concentration. The concentration is not the only factor, the pH of an acid effects its strength and benefits. The lower the pH, the more acidic the product is and the more it will break apart bonds that anchor cells to each other. Therefore, it is important to assess the type of acid used, the percentage, and the pH to understand the true strength of a peel.

5. Depths

Levels of peeling vary, but most are categorized as either superficial peeling, which affect the outer layers of the epidermis, medium-depth peeling that can affect the papillary layer of the dermis, or deep peeling, which can reach the reticular layer of the dermis. 

Superficial peels have no downtime associated with them; if anything, they may cause flaking or mild perioral peeling. For best results, they are done in a series of six to twelve treatments spaced two to four weeks apart. They work well on all skin types including sensitive skin and those with higher Fitzpatrick types. 

Medium-depth peels should be performed under medical supervision. These peels involve some downtime. Initially, the skin feels tight and discolorations may appear on the surface. A few days later the skin starts to peel and can continue for up to ten days. 

Deep peels, such as phenol and Baker’s Gordon should only be performed by medical professionals as they can be dangerous. Phenol peels even require that patients be on a heart monitor. Deep peels can have up to six weeks of downtime and a high chance of complications, making them much less common today. Some risks include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, scarring, and the skin may have a lasting, waxy appearance.

¹ HJ Brody et al, A history of chemical peeling, Dermatologic Surgery, 26 (5), 405–409 (2000).

² MA Farage et al, Characteristics of the aging skin, Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle), 2(1), 5–10 (2013).

³ FF Becker et al, A histological comparison of 50% and 70% glycolic acid peels using solutions with various pHs, Dermatol Surg, 22 (5), 463-5 (1996)

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