Chemical Exfoliation 101
Chemical exfoliation can be put on a sliding scale of Mild, Moderate or Strong.
Enzymes, Acids and Peels are chemical exfoliants, and they are active on either the epidermis or dermis depending on the strength and purpose of the product.
The higher strength chemicals are used in a professional only setting and are administered by a professional performing a service. However, products containing lower percentages of the chemicals are available for client home-use from either a Skin Care Professional or over-the-counter (OTC) places like drugstores or superstores. But, clients should only buy their skin care retail products from a Skin Care Professional who retails said cosmeceutical line.
Most over-the-counter products contain low-quality cheap ingredients (see: harsh) and only a minimal amount of the advertised ingredient. The rest of the product contains mostly FILLERS, PARABENS, COLORING AGENTS, FRAGRANCES, SODIUM LAURYL SULFATES (a primary ingredient of floor strippers), and other bad-for-your-skin ingredients. In other words, these products do more harm than good in the long-term. For example, you might not immediately have a heart attack from that fast-food cheeseburger you eat a few times per week. You might not even gain a pound. Short-term, that delicious burger makes you feel satisfied. But, we all know what happens with long-term consumption.
In the professional setting, if the client’s skin is suited, enzymes are a wonderful way to safely exfoliate the skin without causing irritation. An enzymatic exfoliation is a good, natural way to clean out the pores, get rid of excess oils, and slough off dry, dead skin for healthy cell turnover. Chemical exfoliation helps your skin look younger, promote blood flow, collagen production, and improve overall skin health!
Fruit enzymes, such as bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papaya), eat away at the dead skin cells to unclog and expose a refreshed, clear complexion. Enzymes are often gentler and safer than acids and do not thin the skin like some other popular ingredients.
My #1 Enzyme
Here at Elevate Esthetics Parlor, my number one performing enzyme is the Cocoa Enzyme. This gentle anti-inflammatory enzyme contains natural antioxidants designed to nourish, protect and boost healing for any skin type. This enzyme also has the gentle exfoliation of natural papaya and pineapple enzymes that all work together to effectively polish and prepare the skin. Plus the aroma is cocoa and who doesn’t love that?!
Depending on the results we’re striving to achieve, I also have other enzymes to choose from. In our consultation, we’ll discuss if you’re a good candidate for chemical exfoliants and which ones are right for your skin.
AHAs and BHAs!
Here at Elevate Esthetics Parlor I have various professional treatments that can include a mild or moderate chemical exfoliation. I do not use the Strong formulas because I believe that those need to be administered under a doctor’s supervision. My personal belief has always been that “less is more”, and “slow and steady wins the race.” Various acids include; Salicylic, Mandelic, and Lactic, just to name a few. The different acids are either an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). AHAs address superficial problems in the upper layers of the skin such as lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. AHAs are water-soluble and in addition to exfoliation – help to increase hydration. BHAs are oil-soluble and work in all layers, but especially address deeper problems in the skin associated with oil and acne. BHAs are also anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
How do I know if I need a Chemical Peel?
To enhance the clients exfoliation in their facial, we can choose to upgrade to a chemical peel acid that falls in the mild or moderate category. A chemical peel is an acid, but it is labeled a “peel’ because they have a higher strength for professional-only use. However, at Elevate Esthetics Parlor, I use gel based peels, not ethanol based, which makes them not as harsh. For more information about the differences, please read the peel section in the FAQ section. At Elevate Esthetics Parlor, chemical peels are never used on a client’s first facial. Choices are made based on client history, lifestyle and what we are treating; hyper-pigmentation, lines, wrinkles, acne, etc…
Where do these acids come from?
Originally AHAs and BHAs were derived from nature; milk, almonds, willow bark, etc… However, it is important to understand that with today’s technology, most of these acids are derived synthetically. This is to keep the acid stable, allow for use for those with allergies to natural substances, and control its strength. All of these acids are available in lower strengths suitable for a clients home care routine and should only be added after a proper skin consultation.
But wait! What if I don’t want a chemical peel, but still want expedited results?!
No problem!! At Elevate Esthetics Parlor, I offer the SWiTCH DERMAL REJUVENATION SERIES TREATMENT! This is a peel alternative treatment that repairs the skin without having to induce the tissue damage/repair loop! Unbelievable anti-aging results that last! This treatment takes advantage of the skin’s natural repair mechanism without causing damage, and imparts an immediate boost and reverses aging in the skin! A Skin Consultation and series agreement are required for this service, and clients must be over the age of 37 to begin their series.
A Reminder About Sun Protection
Remember that regardless of the type of exfoliation you use, you NEED to be using a good SPF daily! For example; you may be taking one step forward with a good AHA product, but you’re then taking three steps backwards with unprotected sun exposure (hello, hyperpigmentation)! AHAs, and exfoliation in general, makes your skin very photosensitive! This means that wearing a good SPF every day is not just essential but CRITICAL! And no, the SPF in your makeup is not enough. I’ll explain more in our consultation.
At-Home Exfoliation Super Stars
I also offer a full home care retail line from Circadia. Some of my exfoliating super star performers include:
Amandola Cleanser – This conditioning almond milk cleanser contains Lactic and Mandelic Acids that gently exfoliate, hydrate and brighten damaged skin. The way I recommend using this is not only to cleanse, but also to leave on for a bit as an exfoliating treatment. This is especially good for treating Hyperpigmentation and Aged Skin. It’s amazing!! (My personal fav!)
Cleansing Gel with Salicylic Acid – This light, cleansing gel lathers into a creamy foam that deep cleans, while beta-hydroxy salicylic acid helps to soften and exfoliate. It’s best for treating Grade 3 Acne, blackheads, comedones and blemishes.
The FAMOUS Micro-Exfoliating Honey Cleanser – The patented micro-beads of natural beeswax gently cleanse and exfoliate while absorbing excess oil. This cleanser leaves all skin types feeling fresh and revitalized, especially those that are more oily or require additional exfoliation.
Is Retin A an Exfoliant?
Retin A and Retinol, and any derivative of Vitamin A, are NOT EXFOLIANTS!
It’s a popular misconception that retinol is an exfoliant. It isn’t. Retinol is an antioxidant, and an important skin-repairing ingredient. It does make skin look healthier, smoother and gives it an added glow. And, while retinol can cause flaking for some people, this (often temporary) side effect shouldn’t be mistaken for exfoliation. AHAs and BHAs help to imperceptibly shed dead skin from its surface. If anything, AHAs and BHAs actually help products deliver their vitally important ingredients (like retinol) by removing the dead skin that limits their absorption.
If you’re wanting to add Vitamin A to your home skincare routine, it’s important that you do so in a step-up manner. Here at Elevate Esthetics Parlor, I offer four Vitamin A products, in which you start on the lower concentration and graduate up to the desired level.
Back to Exfoliation…
To learn if chemical exfoliation is right for you, schedule a skincare consultation. Proper exfoliation is likely what your skin needs to start reversing the clock! Let’s be honest, each day a new spot, line or wrinkle pops up, and we don’t like it! I have the tools in my arsenal to guide you in the right direction! Let’s meet, let’s talk, let’s finally get into a healthy skin care routine!
Book a consultation today!
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the simplest and cheapest way to exfoliate year round. The answer might just surprise you!