Peel back the time

There are so many peels and related intense exfoliating treatments out there with such a bewildering array of complicated names that it’s easy to become intimidated. This is the guide to peels, stripped to the bare bones.

Light and gentle peels

These are usually made from fruit acids such as Mandelac15/15, Mandelac 30/30 or Glycomask 20 and can be administered at home or in a beauty salon, often along with a facial. In the same vein is microdermabrasion, usually done by beauty therapists.

They use a machine which blasts the skin with an abrasive powder and then suctions off the particles of the powder along with loosened dry outer skin cells, exposing deeper layers of skin. It can diminish the appearance of fine lines and is most often used to impart a youthful glow.

You should be careful about sun exposure following these procedures as the newly exposed skin can be extremely vulnerable to sun damage.

Intense peels

These are chemical peels and should only be performed by a fully qualified, trained professional such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Mostly, these employ the peeling agent trichloroacetic acid, and cause the top layer or layers of skin to slowly peel off after the application.

It can take about a week for the skin to heal, and Dr Halley-Stott warns that they can come with the price of skin discolouration. Those who swear by them point to the myriad benefits: minimised wrinkles, a more even skin tone, diminished superficial blemishes, diminished acne scars, and the contraction of large pores.

It is important to avoid sun exposure after an intense peel, and follow your doctor’s skincare instructions to the letter in order to avoid infection. Under no circumstances should you allow less-skilled non-physicians to perform intense chemical peels. Dermatologists report that they are seeing increasing numbers of patients seeking to repair damage caused by untrained practitioners. 

(This is an edited version of an article that originally appears in the August issue of Elle Magazine. The current edition is on sale now.)

Plastic surgery flops

(This is an edited version of an article that originally appears in the August issue of Elle Magazine. The current edition is on sale now.)


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