THE LONG-TERM TREATMENTS FOR DARK SPOTS, FRECKLES AND MELASMA MAY DIFFER, BUT CHEMICAL SKIN PEELS ARE IDEAL FOR REMOVING EXISTING HYPERPIGMENTATION
Hyperpigmentation is extremely common in our sunny South Africa. And it only gets worse in summer. That’s why chemical skin peels are such a popular choice for achieving and maintaining your ideal tone of skin.
Now, we already know that most conventional sun-protection measures are less than ideal. Even sunscreen offering SPF 50 is only effective about 53% of the time. And, apart from the far longer lasting effects of premature ageing, the sun also causes visible patches of dark, hyperpigmented skin.
What is hyperpigmentation?
The colour and tone of our skin are called pigment. And it comes from a natural organic molecule our bodies produce called melanin. More melanin means darker skin. And less melanin gives lighter skin. But all skin types have melanin, just in different quantities.
Now, for the ideal skin tone, you want every part of your skin to contain the same amount of melanin. But, when skin becomes “hyper” pigmented, some parts of the skin start producing too much melanin. The result is hyperpigmentation: areas of skin with spots, splotches, freckles or patches that are darker the skin around it.
We distinguish between 3 main types of hyperpigmentation. There’s Sun-induced hyperpigmentation, hormonal causes such as melasma (common during and after pregnancy). And lastly, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (to do with scarring and acne).
Long-term treatments may differ for the underlying causes of the different types of hyperpigmentation. But all treatments will contain a more immediate element, for helping you get rid of any existing dark skin in the meantime.
The most effective way to get rid of unwanted hyperpigmentation in the short to medium term is to stay out of the sun (the sun worsens all types of hyperpigmentation) and boost skin cell turnover. Basically, you want your skin to shed: to strip away dead and dying skin cells at a faster rate. This will allow new, even-tone skin cells to take their place.
What are chemical peels and how do they work?
Our bodies naturally shed skin cells – about 40 000 per hour or 1 million of them per day to be exact. It’s a completely natural process and it’s vital for keeping you and your skin in top health. You have about 1.6 trillion skin cells in our body, but each one only lives for about three weeks. Then it’s time for them to drop off and make space for a new cell.
This is how your skin regenerates. It’s vital for life. But, as we get older, our skins often have trouble shedding at the right time. That’s when you start getting poor complexion, enlarged pores etc.
Chemical skin peels do exactly what the name says. They assist your body in “peeling” away old and unwanted skin cells, to speed up the regeneration process. The skin peel breaks the bonds between old, unwanted cells, making them “drop off”, to allow new cells to grow in their place.
With hyperpigmentation specifically, this process gets rid of the darkly pigmented cells faster. This allows the new, even-tone cells to take their place. So doing, the hyperpigmentation goes away faster.
Types of skin peels used for hyperpigmentation
Your skincare therapist or doctor will advise you which peel is best for your particular case. But, in general, there are three main types of skin peels commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation.
1. Glycolic Acid – Alpha Peel
Part of the fruit acid family, glycolic acid peels are alpha-hydroxy acid and one of the mildest and most popular types of skin peels available. Used to treat epidermal hyperpigmentation (on the surface layers of the skin), it’s an ideal lunchtime peel since there’s no downtime after the treatment.
lapelleVids recently shot a video of an actual glycolic acid peel in Cape Town. Have a look:
See the full feature on this glycolic acid peel treatment here
2. Salicylic Acid – Beta Peel
Called “beta” because it’s a beta-hydroxy acid, the alpha’s slightly harder working cousin. Salicylic acid peels also exfoliate (make skin shed) the top layers of skin like alpha peels, but they have an added antibacterial effect and helps clean and renew pores in the face.
Salicylic acid peels are used to treat all three types of hyperpigmentation. But, like alpha peels, only a qualified skincare therapist or doctor can do the treatment on you.
3. Trichloroacetic – TCA
TCA is an acid commonly used in medicine to destroy or kill unwanted skin imperfections, such as warts. Thus, TCA peels (a variation specifically designed to be used as a peel on the face) are stronger and penetrate deeper than the other peels. It’s used to treat really deep-seated hyperpigmentation.
The most notable differences between this peel and others are that TCA peels will cause your skin to visibly shed (there might be a little downtime involved) and only a medical doctor can administer this treatment.
Because they exfoliate and promote new cell turnover, skin peels speed up the treatment of any kind of hyperpigmentation. Speak to your skin therapist or doctor about chemical skin peels to get perfectly even-tone skin this summer.
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