How to do a Chemical Acid Peel

It is possible to do a chemical acid peel at home. There are products on the market that you can purchase from retail stores or even order them online. As long as you follow the instructions you should be safe.

The basic instructions are set out below. Depending on the type of chemical peel solution you are using, and the strength, they may vary to some degree, so be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with your particular kit.

Three to four weeks before you plan to give yourself a chemical acid peel, you should stop using any type of exfoliating sponges, pads, and solutions. Hair removal should be discontinued at this time, also (plucking eyebrows, removing stray chin hairs, etc. if you are a woman; shaving if you are a man.)

At least two weeks before your treatment, you should start using a cream or lotion that contains no more than 8% alphahydroxy acid. Apply this lotion to your entire face each night before bedtime. This will actually start having an exfoliating effect as well as conditioning the skin so that the chemical acid peel treatment will be more effective.

At some time well before you start your treatment, especially if you are using a tca chemical peel product, you should do a patch test as close to your face as possible, but not directly on your face. A good spot might be the skin in the area where your jawline meets your neck. The skin here is very close to your facial skin, but the test area may not be as noticeable. Follow ALL of the instructions just as if you were applying the treatment to your entire face, including the ones pertaining to after-treatment care.

After doing the patch test, if you notice excessive irritation, you can dilute the solution even further before you do the entire chemical peel treatment. However, if the irritation is too severe, or if you have any other type of reaction, you may want to switch to a different product or consider having a dermatologist perform the procedure.

The day of the treatment:

Cleanse your skin with a mild soap or cleanser (again, nothing exfoliating), then use a cotton ball moistened with alcohol or an alcohol prep pad (like the ones used to give injections, take blood, etc.) to cleanse all the oils from your face. If you wish, apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly around the eye area for protection.

Prepare the solution to the proper dilution strength. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY. Different types of acid peels will have different dilution instructions; for this reason, none will be given here. It is too important to follow the specific instructions given.

Using a clean cotton ball or cotton pad, apply the diluted solution in a even coating. Use gentle patting or stroking motions. DO NOT SCRUB, particularly on those areas where it may seem that a little extra pressure may be needed. This can cause irritation or other problems.

Some stinging or burning is normal, but again if it is too severe, you may need to remove the solution. If this occurs, follow the removal instructions exactly.

After the solution has been applied, you should notice a frosting effect (the skin will turn white) after approximately one minute. If necessary, apply a second thin coat to those areas that do not appear to be turning white, or that may APPEAR to need a bit more. Be careful, however, and don’t overdo.

Once the whiteness has disappeared (after about twenty to thirty minutes), leave the solution on for an additional three to four minutes. It may be necessary to fan your face during this time, as this is when the strongest burning sensation may be felt.

After the final three to four minutes, rinse your face thoroughly with cool water, then apply cool compresses (cotton balls, gauze pads, or washcloths soaked in cool water) to your skin. Use these to gently blot your skin. They will remove the excess solution and provide relief for the burning. DO NOT RUB your face for any reason during this time, because your skin is at its most sensitive right now.

If you feel you need a neutralizer, you can mix two teaspoons baking soda with a cup of cool water and use clean cotton balls, gauze pads, or washcloths to gently blot that solution onto your face.

As your skin begins to turn pinkish/brown, don’t panic! This is normal. This is when you apply a thin layer of a triple-antibiotic lotion or ointment.

After your chemical peel treatment:

Clean your skin using a mild liquid cleanser. Apply the cleanser with your fingertips, not a cloth, as the skin is still very sensitive. Pat your skin dry, then apply triple-antibiotic lotion or ointment.

Do not pick at the brown patches of skin; simply keep your face moist with the triple-antibiotic lotion.

Avoid ANY sun exposure for the first few weeks after your acid peels; use a sunblock with an SPF of 25 or higher. From there, continue to use a daily sunscreen product.

Do not use make-up for one week.

Notify your health care professional if the redness does not appear to be fading as it should. Left untreated, this can cause darkening of the skin and even scarring.

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