The Problem with Peels….

Chemical Peels are funny things. Done properly, they are absolutely wonderful. When things are not done quite right or instructions not adhered to, it can cause problems. Not pretty ones too…

So what are peels and how scary is it?

  • Chemical peels are acids that can be applied to the skin in a controlled manner.

  • Peels strip the top layer of the skin

  • Most peels do not result in a ‘Lobster’ face unless you choose a strong peel; in which case, you’d expect a ‘lobster’ face and longer recovery time.

  • For first timers, the recommendation is to always start with a mild peel.

  • This advice should also follow someone trying a new brand of peel.

  • Prep before a peel is extremely important. Ignore at your peril.

  • Care after a peel is extremely important. Ignore at your peril.

  • There is a rather big difference in types of peel and results that can be achieved. Make sure your peel provider understands their product well.

  • Milder peels give instant brightening and results change over the course of a few days, occasionally with very mild peeling but mostly just continuous brightening and clarity.

  • Stronger peels results in redness with optimum results days or weeks later depending on strength of the peel.

  • They should be used in conjunction with a good skin care regime.

How to optimise your peel:

  • Prioritise prep.

This is why: If you think of your skin as a surface that’s continuously growing and shedding, there will be areas that are shedding more than others, areas where skin is thinner or thicker and areas where there are blemishes etc. They don’t all contain the exact same number of cells at any given point in time. The right prep (usually 2 weeks or longer) will usually start the stripping process. This means that after a few weeks of stripping dead skin, when its time to peel, the skin would be able to achieve a much more even result. It really is worth it.

  • Prioritise post peel aftercare.

This is why: A good product/company would have thought about how to optimise your results. They would have runs tests, done studies and the more medically based ones, would have conducted proper trials. Think about what a peel does; it strips the top layer of your skin. The layer underneath is now exposed and sensitive, especially the first few days after the peel. Whatever you put on it makes a difference. Even if the product you put on it claims to be for ‘sensitive’ skins. It doesn’t make sense to use anything but what is recommended. Its simply not worth the risk.

  • Prioritise suncare.

Use at least an SPF 30 and preferably more. Don’t forget that the sun does not have to be out and shining for its effects to be there. As long as there’s daylight, there’s the effects of the sun. Especially in the city where the rays are reflected off light grey surfaces (concrete pavements). The skin will try to protect itself if it thinks it needs to by producing melanin, causing pigmentation, if you don’t protect it.

An interesting case history of how things can go wrong:

The famous Samantha  (Sex and the City) scene....

The famous Samantha  (Sex and the City) scene....

We recently had a client who wanted a peel. On consultation, I felt that her pre peel preparation seemed sound. She used products from a different company so although not ideal, when I looked into the acid content of the products, I believed it would be alright. Peel was done without a hitch, although I reduced the time just to be safe. Results were absolutely beautiful. Two days later, she called to complain about a rash on her face. I invited her to come back in for a follow up to assess the situation. She had very mild raised nodules all around her cheek area. On asking her what products she used (she did not want to get any take home products from the same company as the peel), she told us about the product she used for sensitive skin and a very good make (read...expensive!). I researched a bit and copied what the product contained:


Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane (silicone slip agent), Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate (thickener/skin-conditioning agent), Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer (silicone texture enhancer), Glycerin (Skin-identical/repairing ingredient), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (stabilized vitamin C), Cetyl Alcohol (thickener), Niacinamide (cell-communicating ingredient), Dimethicone (silicone slip agent), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Cetearyl Alcohol (thickener), Glyceryl Stearate (thickener), PEG-100 Stearate (thickener), Polysilicone-11 (film-forming agent), Adenosine (cell-communicating ingredient), Epigallocatechin Gallate (antioxidant), Glucose Oxidase (skin-clearing agent), Lactoperoxidase (vitamin B3/cell-communicating ingredient), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (plant extract/antioxidant), Xanthan Gum (binding agent/emulsifier), Glucose (skin-identical/repairing agent), Ceteareth-20 (solubilizing agent), Decyl Glucoside (emulsifier), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).


Thankfully for her, it wasn’t a hard problem to solve. But it does go to show that even a product that’s formulated right, may not be so ‘right’ as a post peel product, where the skin is much more sensitive. 


Insider’s tip


This is purely my opinion based on my experience and may not be shared by others. I prefer mixing products and am not a fan of using the same product all the time. Its like getting too much of a good thing. At some point your body can’t use the good thing anymore. That’s when you find that a product that used to work wonders on you has now stopped doing so. With pre and post peel care products, there’s even more of an argument here. I would only use these products 2 weeks before and after a peel; then perhaps once a week. This is especially important for the pre-peel products, as they are acidic. So these products should last you at least 6 months, if not longer.


Clinic Offer


Leading up to Christmas, we have decided to put together a peel package with our brand of choice, Neostrata. Its well researched and well trialled. A very comprehensive range that has been around very long.


  • 3 Neostrata chemical peels (minimum 4 weeks apart)

  • 1 Neostrata pre-peel product for your skin type from a selection

  • 1 Neostrata post-peel product for your skin type from a selection


Complete package at £280 with Alison (worth close to £400) or £380 with Dr Bains (worth close to £550). Please call Ellie at 0208 616 9130 to find out more.