Chemical Peel What Are The Acids Used?

Peeling is one of the most popular aesthetic treatments. It consists of a "controlled aggression" of the skin through the use of acidic substances. What are its benefits? In this space, we tell you more about it

The chemical peel is also known by the name of dermabrasion. In recent years, it has positioned itself as one of the most widely used aesthetic procedures since its application helps correct various skin imperfections.

In particular, it involves removing a variable thickness of epidermis or dermis through the use of chemical substances that are generally acidic or caustic. With this, it is possible to renew the superficial layers of the skin to minimize the presence of spots and wrinkles. You wonder, what are the most used acids in this treatment?

What are the acids most used in chemical peels?

When carrying out a chemical peel, it is convenient to know that there are several types of acids to carry out the procedure. The choice between one or the other varies according to the needs of the skin. Therefore, before applying it, the idea is to have the advice of a professional dermatologist. Let’s see in detail the most used substances.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) comprise a large family of compounds derived from fruits and natural substances. Due to their low toxicity, they produce almost no adverse effects and are easy to use.

Meanwhile, once the treatment is done, the person can resume their daily activities without problems. Thus, it is one of the most widely used chemical peels, both in offices and in-home formulations.

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These acids have the advantage that they can be applied to almost all skin types, regardless of age. Even, they get to adapt to all the phototypes. The best known in this category include the following:

  • Malic
  • Tartaric
  • Citric
  • Lactic
  • Glycolic
  • Koji
  • Ascorbic
  • Mandelic

Because they belong to the same chemical “family,” they all share some properties, as well as possess distinctive individual characteristics.

Properties of alpha-hydroxy acids

Some are used to perform a chemical peel, while others, which have less potency as acid, are used as depigmentation agents or supplements to other treatments. Specifically, they stand out for the following benefits :

  • Moisturizing power (hydro-retainer): they produce a softening effect and increase skin comfort.
  • Ability to regulate keratinization: they generate a moderate exfoliation and a renewing and “compacting” effect on the superficial layers of the skin.
  • Anti-age effect: a publication of the journal  Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry exposes that they attenuate small superficial wrinkles, reinforce the acidity of the superficial epidermal layers (which gives it greater defense against microbes), improve micro-relief and provide skin splendor.

Glycolic Acid

According to studies published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, it is best known and used for its effectiveness and few adverse effects. Of all the acids, it is the one with the smallest molecule, so its penetration capacity is greater than other varieties.

They can have good penetration as any other chemical peel, but scab, necrosis, and peeling can be controlled and minimized if used in optimal conditions. Its main uses are as follows:

  • Photodamage in general.
  • Actinic keratosis.
  • Solar lentiginosis.
  • Acne and its aftermath.
  • Post-inflammatory pigmentation.
  • Melasma.
  • Xerosis
  • Ichthyosis.
  • Follicular keratosis.

Glycolic acid for medical use ranges from 30% to 70% in solution, gel, or mask, according to the latest updates from Atdermae magazine.

Mandelic acid

It is a derivative of bitter almond extract. A publication of the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology determined that it is the alpha hydroxy acid most used for hyperpigmentation and acne treatments for its effectiveness.

Due to its origin from almonds, it has antimicrobial and antiseptic potential. It is even used as oral medicine. It is especially indicated in people with melasma and acne spots. Also, it is suitable for skin with rosacea or sensitivity.

The normal effects of alpha-hydroxy acids are burning sensation, tearing, redness, and whitening of the skin. It is used at 30 or 50% in the office and up to 12% in home formulas.

Beta hydroxy acids (BHA)

Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) are a small group in which salicylic acid is commonly used in dermatology and aesthetics. In aesthetic medicine, it is used in the office from 10 to 30%.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid has been used for many years for its keratolytic properties for topical use in treating hyperkeratosis problems and peeling of the skin, such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, ichthyosis, psoriasis, and acne.

Very recently it was published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology which can be safely used in high phototypes. To be more exact, it can be applied for the following:

  • Superficial acne scars.
  • Active acne.
  • Hyperkeratosis
  • Dyschromias in general.
  • Photoaging.
  • Fine wrinkles.
Chemical Peel
A chemical peel with salicylic acid can be used to minimize scarring, fine wrinkles, among other blemishes.

Skincare after a chemical peel

After each chemical peel, the skin may feel tight, tender, dry, and pink to red. Removing one or more layers of skin cells forces the body to start various processes aimed at regenerating the lost skin.

Emphasis should be placed on avoiding contact with the sun and the use of sun protection. The use of thin layer petroleum jelly or moisturizing creams favors a slight peeling and without feeling of tightness.

Despite its popularity, the peeling is not harmless, may alter the color and texture of the skin, and leave scarring sequelae. According to medical criteria, they can be performed at any age, but it is not recommended in pregnant women and infants.

Alex Marshall

My responsibilities include interacting with the Board of Directors, data entry, accounts payable, payroll, grant report entry, managing the organization's HR, helping and creating organizational and program budgets in collaboration with the ED and Program Direct, and other misc. tasks.

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