I had my only Alpha Hydroxy Acid peel in 2005. It wasn't successful, but many people I know have glycolic peels on regular basis and are happy with the results.
Some AHAs occur naturally in lemons, grapefruits and oranges, while others are obtained in the lab from sugar cane and milk. The most common AHAs are:
Lactic acid has been known for its soothing properties for thousands of years. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra was one of the many to use sour milk as an anti-aging treatment. She used to bathe in it every night before sleep.
You've probably heard of glycolic acid, the most popular of all alpha hydroxy acids. While at concentrations of 70% and higher it's used as a degreasing agent and can burn through human skin in milliseconds, at low concentrations, glycolic acid is safe to use in anti-aging, moisturizing and peeling treatments (and quite effective, too, in many cases).
Mild glycolic peels use acid solutions of up to 30% concentration, while medium peels use substances of higher concentrations. Home formulas, on the other hand have the lowest concentrations of all glycolic-based products (under 10%) to prevent negative side effects and potentially dangerous use.
Before letting my beautician spread what's essentially acid onto my skin, I asked her how AHA chemical peels work. She explained that in contact with the skin, glycolic acid penetrates the upper layers to detach them by destroying their connection with the rest of the tissue. Afterwards, the exfoliated cells can be easily removed with water or cleanser.
By removing damaged cells from the skin's surface, glycolic acid also stimulates collagen production and speeds up the natural skin renewal process. Another reason why glycolic acid is so popular is that it's water soluble: it draws nourishing ingredients from the after-treatment cream into the skin.
I had my first (and only) glycolic peel in the summer of 2005, three months after finishing my first professional micro dermabrasion series. My beautician assured me that AHA chemical peels are safe to use on all skin types, and on any part of the body except for the eyes.
She cleaned the skin with make up remover; then spread the acid solution evenly on my face except on the areas around the eyes and mouth. Twenty minutes later, she washed the solution off with cold water and I left the beauty salon 5 minutes later with nothing but some mild redness and itchiness.
The results were disappointing: I saw no improvement that day or on the next few days despite other people who had similar glycolic peels at the same salon saying the procedure diminished their scars, wrinkles, age spots and other skin imperfections. They did say, though, that you need maintenance treatments for long lasting results.
AHAs don't damage your skin as long as the acid concentration is within the safety limit and the solution is used properly. However, your face may stay red, irritated and flaky for a few days after the chemical peel. High SPF is mandatory for the following 2-3 months, because exfoliation with AHA acids increases sun sensitivity.
The average price of a glycolic peel is around $120 per treatment. The cost depends on the location, size of the treated area and acid concentration.
Next, some of the home dermabrasion sets I've tried.
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