#1 Is peeling a mechanical or chemical treatment?
Both! There are two peeling methods, both of which remove dead skin cells and boost cell renewal in the dermo-epidermal junction. Mechanical peels are a like a deep scrub, where grains, shell fragments and minerals are used to remove dead skin cells. Chemical peels - usually made from fruit, glycolic and salicylic acids - work by dislodging dead cells from the surface of our skin. They melt away the 'cement' that chemically binds cells together in the epidermis, causing them to flake off.
#2 Does it hurt?
No! If it does feel painful, it means the treatment's not being carried out correctly. For example, if we scrub too hard, if a dose of chemicals is too high or if the treatment chosen isn't suited our skin type. If you have sensitive or reactive skin, proceed with care! It could cause a flare up. Ditto for how often we should have a peel. Thicker, resistant skin handles peeling better and can deal with more frequent sessions. It's all a question of choice. The benefits are a clearer, brighter, more uniform complexion against the risk of ended up with stinging, irritated patches of skin. If your skin does flare up, all you need to do is to reduce the doses and frequency. Barbaric as it may sound, nowadays peels are much gentler and do give great results - just don't go OTT!
#3 What's the point?
Peeling off the surface of the epidermis reveals our skin's basal membrane, which reacts by producing fresh skin cells. The result is a younger, brighter complexion. The newly formed stratum corneum (or outer layer) provides a stronger, protective sheath. Our deeply cleansed skin can once again breathe. Wrinkles are reduced and pigment spots fade. Peels also reduce open pores and blemishes. It's vital, however, to moisturise immediately after a peeling session.
#4 What textures are available?
Cosmetic peels come as lotions, liquids, creams and masks. Some can be used daily, other's once in a while. Respect the instructions - doing peels too often will leave you with stingy, irritated skin. That's also bone dry! Peels are generally recommended if the top layer of your skin is a bit leathery - thick, opaque and dull. And peels should never be applied to fragile parts of the face - eye contours, sides of your nose and around your mouth.
#5 What started the peeling trend?
It began some time ago when dermatologists offered rejuvenating peels to their clients. Professional peels use different formulae, with harsher ingredients designed to deal with acne, troublesome blemishes, deep wrinkles, liver spots and pregnancy masks. Today, you'll find dermatologists who can give you a brightening or anti-ageing peel whenever you need a facial pick-me-up.