Why Get a Chemical Peel in the First Place?
Do you ever wish you could go back and time and take better care of your skin? Or experience once again that beautiful, flawless skin you had in high school – the skin where you never had to do a single thing to it, yet it looked beautiful anyways? Well, I do. I know many people experienced severe acne or even scarring in their pre-teen and teen years, but for me, my skin was perfect. I hardly had any breakouts, and my friends, family … even doctors would compliment me on how beautiful my skin was and ask me about my “secret.” “I don’t know, I just wash my skin and use moisturizer,” I would tell them. Oh, I miss those days. And I wish that at the time I wouldn’t have taken it for granted.
The moment I moved down to Florida four years ago is when my skin completely changed. I was 20 years old and I remember within the first few days of living in Florida I had one of the biggest breakouts I’ve ever had in my life, and for the first time ever it actually left a scar. A deep divot in the skin on my forehead that still shows in every single photo that I take. Since my move, my skin continues to keep changing. I have blackheads like never before, I get cystic breakouts that leave scars, and I get blemishes so deep in the skin that it creates an unflattering and rough texture that no amount of exfoliating and serums could correct.
I’m now 23 years old and after watching my skin lose its smoothness and glow over the last few years, I was just a few weeks away from doing something severe to make my skin look better again. I was researching everything from laser treatments, to micro-needling, to “baby-tox” (a small number of Botox injections on young women, used as a preventative anti-aging measure and to even out skin texture). I was ready to do something more drastic so that I could finally like the way my skin looked when I woke up and looked in the mirror each morning – luckily, I decided to try a chemical peel first.
What is a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is an acid solution that’s applied to the face to remove the outermost layers of skin, causing peeling over several days.As a result, the skin must re-generate and when it comes back in, it appears healthier, smoother, softer and has fewer imperfections like scars, dark spots, or fine lines. There are countless peels that exist now which all range from light, medium and deep. Lighter peels are performed by aestheticians while deeper ones are performed by dermatologists. But whichever peel you decide to go with, they’re all essentially meant to do one thing – to shed the outer layers of skin so the client is left with results that appear to have taken off years of damage.
I finally decided to try a light chemical peel in hopes that it would help me get the results that facials couldn’t. In hopes that it could smooth out my skin and get rid of the little bumps that I had all over, yet hadn’t come to the surface in years. And I hoped that I wouldn’t need to do something drastic to finally get my skin back. I made an appointment with Kelly Corbett from Spa by Kelly located on 1st Avenue North in St. Petersburg for a chemical peel several weeks back and prayed that this would be the solution.
This is my entire chemical peel experience for those of you who are interested in getting a peel done but have no idea what to expect as far as the process, shedding, and results. This is step- by-step and day-by-day, of what it’s like to get a Jessner Chemical Peel so you know before you book your own appointment.
The Jessner Chemical Peel
The Jessner Chemical Peel is one of the lighter peels offered, yet still provides fantastic results and leaves you with only a few days of serious shedding. It’s used to tighten pores, even skin tone, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, tighten skin, clear acne, and more.
PSA: If you’ve never gotten a peel before, it’s best to see an aesthetician and start with one of the lightest peels on the market to see how your skin reacts to it first. The one thing that peels are most known for – aside from excessive shedding – is leaving a burning sensation on the skin when applied. Deeper peels that are performed by dermatologists can be more painful, cause severe shedding and even blistering that could take weeks to recover from and leave your skin feeling tender, swollen, and sensitive.
To begin my chemical peel process, I laid on the facial table in the spa and relaxed on the warm Amethyst Biomat. If you haven’t heard of these before, biomats use negative ion technology and the healing power of amethyst crystals to improve circulation and cardiovascular function, increase the metabolism, reduce pain, reduce joint pain and stiffness, and help the body feel relaxed and grounded (which I must say is essential if you’re about to lay on a table and have acid applied to your face).
The facial began with two cleanses and gentle exfoliation to prep the skin. After that my aesthetician, Kelly, placed a small-sized fan on my chest for me to hold throughout the process to reduce the burning sensation and then covered my eyes and applied Vaseline to the corners of my nose and my lips. Those areas are the most sensitive, so by applying Vaseline the areas are protected and won’t get red or agitated. She also made it a point to apply a layer of Vaseline on my eyebrows so that my microblading would be exposed to the peel and end up fading.
After I was ready, Kelly then applied the lightest peel first. As a safety measure, every aesthetican will begin any peel by first applying a lighter version to the skin and test how it reacts to the peel and how sensitive the skin is to the acid. Out of the entire process, I remember the first two layers of the peel the most because they hurt the most. I definitely felt a burning sensation on my skin, however, it didn’t last that long.
When Kelly applies chemical peels she usually applies 6 layers of the peel – MAX. She then spaces out each layer by several minutes to give the skin a break. However, neither one of us was expecting how well my skin would react to the peel. After the first two layers, my skin stopped burning altogether and I didn’t feel the peel at all. I just felt like she was applying water or serum to my face. There was no burning, no stinging, and no heat. We thought that I would only end up doing 4 or 5 layers of the peel and need to use the lightest peel each time. Luckily my skin was reacting so well that Kelly was able to apply 7 layers to the skin, 3 of which were the lighter version and 4 were stronger.
The only reaction my skin was having was a little bit of blanching between a few layers of the peel meaning that the acid had penetrated very deeply into the skin. As a result, I had several small pale white bumps on the skin. It’s a normal reaction when the acid gets in the deep layers. When that happened, Kelly would give my skin a little bit longer of a break in between layers and wait for the bumps to go away which only took a few minutes.
I’ve heard so many women complain about the healing and pain of chemical peels, that I was surprised that mine was so pain-free and easy. It could be because I have such light skin or many because I had a lighter peel performed as opposed to the intensive ones. I was expecting to leave with bright red skin immediately afterward, but to my surprise, my skin looked beautiful, glowing, and the healthiest it has for a long time.
At the end of my peel, Kelly followed it up with retinol and SPF on my skin to protect it on my way home. She instructed me to leave it on until I decided to go to bed that night. She gave me a post peel kit that I was supposed to use for at least a week afterward which included a cleaner, two skin serums that I was supposed to mix together with a drop of water, a thick moisturizer, and retinol that I would use weekly.
Bonus: Aesthetician Recommendations
- Always wear SPF and avoid the sun
- Use vitamin C and antioxidant serum every day
- It’s better to get light peels more frequently than a strong more intense peel every several years. Intense peels can cause blistering or damage, and it’s best to do less harsh treatments but more frequently.
- Get a facial monthly
- Do your research on aestheticians. Florida requires the least amount of hours required to get your license. Most states require 800+ hours, we have 240 hours, and people are still trying to have that number lowered
For glowing skin and an even skin tone Kelly recommends:
Addresses skin discoloration and redness for irritation, sun-damage, and sensitive skin with a blend of botanical brighteners and vitamin C for an even skin complexion.
- Image Bleaching Serum (2% HQ + Glycolic)
Sadly, this product has been discontinued and was recently removed off the company website and Amazon.
A concentrated combination of botanicals that visually address uneven skin tone, helps with anti-aging, gently exfoliates the skin, and smooths and softens the skin.
I’ve been curious about getting chemical peels done for a very long time before finally getting it done myself. So I decided to take daily notes and photos to keep track of my skin for those who might be interested in trying a light peel themselves but aren’t sure about what to expect.
Upon leaving the treatment, my skin looked wonderful. I was expecting it to look horrific after getting acid applied to my face for an hour, but surprisingly it looked just like I had gotten any other facial done – my skin was glowing, clear, and even.
- Scars are not showing right after the peel
- Skin is glowing
- Skin is continuing to get redder throughout the day in the evening
- Starting to feel dry and itchy, similar to a sunburn
- Scars are looking redder than the rest of the skin and are more visible later in the day
- Skin is tight
- Blackheads are coming to the surface
- Bumps that I had no idea what they were have been apparently very, very small and deep blemishes in the skin that are all coming to the surface and forming blackheads and whiteheads
- Skin is looking pretty red
- Super nice to have an excuse not to wear makeup
- Skin is starting to peel lightly around the nose at night
- Lots of peeling around the nose, some peeling around mouth
- The rest of my skin looks super tight and also shiny like it’s about to start coming off
- Skin is patchy – red and pink all over my face
- The areas that have peeled on my chin are baby soft
- I can’t stop softly rubbing my mouth and chin area because the skin is so smooth
- Shedding moved to lower cheeks and also in the space in between my brows
- The skin is so soft underneath, I’m definitely going to be doing this again in 6 months
- Skin is red and pink in the areas that peeled
- Shedding is continuing to get heavier throughout the day
- Skin looks younger and tighter than it normally does
- Pretty itchy and dry
- I have a few small blemishes coming to the surface throughout this shedding process
- Skin is very itchy
- A second layer is starting to peel
- Shedding has moved up to my hairline and the edges of my face
- Skin is still pink
- Even skin tone now
- Skin is still very dry
- Skin is still very itchy
- Skin feels sensitive, especially if I scratch it
- Scratching even very lightly is a bit painful, causing a sharp pain in the area no matter how gentle I am
- A second layer is slowing peeling in little flakes all over my face
- Skin is dry and needs a good amount of moisturizer, I started applying moisturizer three times a day instead of just two
- Peeling is no longer noticeable except for a few small flakes
- Skin is still sensitive especially if I try to scratch it
By the end of the week, my skin was almost completely back to normal. It was a nuisance shedding so much and it was gross having skin all over the place, but the serious shedding lasted only about 3 days. The most difficult parts of the healing process for me was how itchy and dry my skin was, but not being able to alleviate the itching without it hurting. Aside from that, once my shedding started to move up toward my hairline, the dead skin was stuck in my hair all day long, but it was nearly impossible to get it out.
And now the best part- the results! After two weeks my skin was back to normal there were no more signs of peeling or pain and I’m finally I’m left with the skin I was hoping for when I first made my appointment.
My absolute favorite part about getting this chemical peel is that all of the little bumps that were on my cheeks and on my forehead above my brows have come to the surface and disappeared. This peel literally made my skin shed like a snake. It was a such a deep exfoliation that it was able to get rid of blemishes that were so far below the surface they stayed for years. I didn’t even realize that many of the little bumps on my skin were just deep blemishes. It had even stumped both dermatologists and aestheticians as to what they were. No amount of exfoliating or popping has been able to get these little bumps to go away, but within the first 24 hours, they had come to the surface and I was able to pop them. For that reason alone, I would do the chemical peel again. No amount of scrubs or facials could be this effective removing dead skin cells and purging the skin of bacteria the way the peel did.
My skin is also much smoother overall and I don’t have all the texture that I used to have on my cheeks. My deep scars are less visible than they were before. I think the peel has helped regenerate new skin cells in the divots of my skin and essentially buff the surface of my skin so it’s less noticeable. Because I have such great success with my peel, I’ll be going in for another light peel at the six-month mark. Kelly normally recommends doing a peel once a year, but because it was my first peel, doing two within the first year could help with scarring and acne without stripping my skin too much.
I loved getting this treatment done and seeing how quickly the results appeared before my eyes in the mirror that week. I’ve become a huge believer in this beauty treatment and can’t wait to go back and see my next results. I highly recommend this treatment for anyone who is trying to fix issues that no amount of serums, face masks, and facials have been able to correct. If you’re interested in trying out a light peel with Kelly, feel free to check out her website and contact here at SpaByKelly.com.
Thanks so much for reading!
As always let me know what you think in the comments! Have you had a chemical peel done? What it light, medium, or deep? Where did you go to get it done? What was your experience like? Did you see any benefits yourself from getting it done?
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Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.