I learned the hard way this past weekend that if your skin is super dry, using a home chemical peel is not the best idea. I wasn’t under any delusions that a chemical peel was a mild skin care treatment, but I also wasn’t prepared for it to leave burn marks all over my face.
But let’s back things up. Last week, my face was looking dry, dull and just generally ‘bleh,’ so I broke out the Perfect Image gel peel I had at home. It’s made from lactic acid, peppermint extract, bearberry extract, green tea and Kojic acid, among other things. I’ve been using the treatment about once a month since last summer, and it typically leaves my skin looking glow-y and renewed.
Chemical peels—also called ‘chemexfoliation’ or ‘derma-peeling’—are designed to kill off old skin cells and inspire the body to regenerate smoother, less wrinkled skin.
My Perfect Image lactic peel promised to ‘even skin tone and effectively lighten pigmentation by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for producing excess melanin.’ It’s also supposed to reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, promote cell turnover and stimulate collagen production.
As a ‘professional chemical peel treatment,’ the gel always burns a bit going on—but this time, it burned more than usual. After a couple minutes, my skin started to burn so much I couldn’t take it. As I wiped off the gel with a warm washcloth, it felt like someone pouring astringent over a cut. Ooof.
Clearly, this was a bad idea. Far from looking ‘glow-y and renewed’ now, my skin looked red and blotchy and a little burned.
And it got worse.
By the end of the day, the overall redness had faded but I could see several distinct burn spots: A quarter-sized one on my left check, one on my chin and two on my forehead. The one on my forehead only emphasized my fine lines. The one on my cheek managed to look like a bruise.
By the next day, the marks had actually gotten worse instead of better. The spots on my chin and cheek had started to flake, and the one above my eyebrow had started to blister.
Today, finally, they’re starting to look better. But for a few days I looked like I’d recently been beaten or was beginning to develop meth sores. So! The bottom line here is: Chemical peel with caution. Using this treatment on well-moisturized skin can make it look great; but using it on skin that’s already dry or irritated is likely to only make the problem worse.