I don't know about you, but whenever I would hear the words 'chemical peel' I never thought that would be something I would want to put my skin through. It just sounded, well, painful! However, the more research I did, the more I realized this could actually be a beneficial treatment for my skin. So when I was approached by Epiderma* and was offered to try their new salicylic acid peel, I knew I would be in good, professional hands. I documented the process with before and after pictures for comparison purposes, hence the raw, unedited, unaltered photos you will see below. Putting my bare face out there for all to see? That is what is happening today. Hopefully I don't scare you away and see you here again!
Prior to my treatments, I went in for a consultation to the Epiderma clinic in downtown Montreal to determine if a salicylic peel would be suitable for my skin type. After filling out a form, it was determined that I was an ideal candidate. I was briefed on the different peels available, such as the more 'superficial' glycolic acid (AHA) peel, which is derived from sugar cane and suitable for aging skin and the salicylic acid (BHA) peel, which comes from willow bark and is great for acne-prone and sensitive skin types. BHAs have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce irritation while smoothing and evening out the texture of the skin. I have been incorporating both AHAs and BHAs in my skin care regimen (see here and here) so I was interested to see how my skin would react. I was informed that you can also combine AHA and BHA peels by having both treatments layered to reduce pigmentation. For deeper peels, there are options such as TCA and phenol peels to lessen the appearance of fines lines and wrinkles.
A few days after my evaluation session, I returned to the Epiderma clinic for my first peel. I was surprisingly very relaxed and was greeted by Stephanie who was super friendly and answered any of my last-minute questions. She first cleansed my face and applied alcohol to desensitize my skin and put vaseline around my lips to protect them. I was then given a handheld fan to help me cool down since you do feel quite a heavy burning sensation for the first two minutes following application. I received a 10% salicylic acid concentration which is much higher than what you would find in over-the-counter products (which vary between 0.5% and 2%). The burn gradually lessened to a warm sensation and my skin went back to normal after about five minutes. I felt the most burning on my cheeks and forehead and it did feel uncomfortable, yet bearable.
For my first treatment, I only got one layer to see how my skin would tolerate it. Stephanie said she could see it working before her eyes, with the red areas turning white. I was advised not to not apply anything on my face for 8 hours following the peel (including water), and after that could go back to using my usual skin care products (including those containing salicylic acid). I was expecting to be super red and itchy after the peel, but surprisingly I walked out of the clinic without any of those side effects. I also experienced very minimal peeling, just a bit around my nose 2-3 days after. I was really looking forward to my following appointment two weeks later to see how a second peel would benefit my skin.
The above pictures were taken right after I came home from my first treatment. You may notice that my scars already faded quite a bit and my skin felt a lot smoother overall.
Since my skin reacted so well to my first salicylic peel, I was administered two layers during my second treatment two weeks later, while remaining at the 10% concentration level. The burning was definitely stronger, so a fan was much needed and appreciated. My skin felt much tighter and was slightly more red immediately after, but nothing alarming or out of the ordinary. I experienced a bit more peeling this time around my nose in the following days, but nowhere else. As you can see below, my scars have decreased quite significantly (I played with the lighting setting on my camera during those two weeks which is why I appear less yellow in these pictures). The changes are not super dramatic, but with time and follow-up treatments you can expect to see even more clearing up of the skin.
Epiderma recommends getting a treatment every three months for best results. They offer six peels in a package for C$900, however they had a sale going on when I went with all of their peels being 50% off. So definitely look out for specials from a trusted clinic when considering getting a treatment since these peels can be pricy.
To find an Epiderma clinic near you, click here.
Have you gotten a facial peel before? Would you consider getting one?
*Disclaimer: Service was provided and reviewed in accordance with my Disclosure Policy.