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Sun damage. Acne and acne scars. Age spots and fine wrinkles. Dull, uneven looking skin. Freckles and melasma. If you've been around for a while, chances are you're dealing with at least some of these issues — and chances are even bigger that you don't like it. Chemical peels, in which chemicals are applied to the skin to essentially remove old, damaged layers of skin and reveal fresh, clear skin, may help you out. 

What Kinds Of Chemical Peels Are There?

Chemical peels can be mild (superficial), medium, or deep, and in all cases, various chemical agents may be used:

  • Superficial chemical peels will "refresh" your skin and can rid you of mild skin discoloration. Alpha hydroxy acid is often used for this kind of peel. 
  • Medium peels can already do some very serious work — reducing the appearance of fine wrinkles, age spots, more serious skin discoloration, and freckles. Medium peels are even used to treat actinic keratosis. These peels can be performed with trichloroacetic aicid (a "TCA peel") or glycologic acid. 
  • Deep peels are reserved for more extreme wrinkles, discoloration, and acne or other scars. They may use trichloroacetic acid or phenol, and unlike the other kinds of peels, this is a treatment you'd only have one time. 

What Do You Need To Know If You Are Considering A Chemical Peel?

Consult a dermatologist to see if you are a candidate, answer all their questions about your skin, lifestyle and any medication use as fully as possible, and follow all their instructions. One very important thing to know is that you need to stop using Retin-A before your peel, if you are on it. 

Your dermatologist — and yes, your peel should absolutely be performed by one — will explain the process to you in detail. You may follow a special skin care routine before your peel, and will definitely receive some instructions for after. Superficial peels won't have much of an impact on your daily routine, but still take about a week to fully heal to reveal your new skin. Deep peels will be bandaged, require you to take time off work, and may not fully heal until three weeks after. Always take care to stay out of the sun after receiving any kind of chemical peel, and go back to your dermatologist if you notice any side effects they did not warn you about in advance. 

Can I Perform My Own Chemical Peel At Home?

You can, but you really shouldn't. Plenty of people talk about performing their own chemical peels, including some right here within the SteadyHealth community, and some of them have acquired great knowledge and end up with glowing results. Remember, however, that chemical peels involve dangerous chemicals. These chemicals can cause rather than cure permanent skin damage if you don't know what you're doing, and also need to be neutralized with a special solution so they don't continue being active on your skin. 

Similar dangers lurk in choosing a non-qualified person, such as a hairdresser, to perform a chemical peel for you — so please check that the person performing your peel is a qualified dermatologist!

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