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Q & A: At Home Chemical Peels

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In widespread use for years, chemical peels are becoming increasingly popular as baby boomers age and aesthetic companies respond with more varieties of chemical peels to suit many needs. Today, there are even many "at home" chemical peels available. You're not alone if you're intrigued at the thought of rejuvenating your own skin right at home, but have questions about the products. Are they effective? Are they safe?

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about at home chemical peels.

Q. Are they effective?

A. At home chemical peels actually do yield results. You can think of them as a way to freshen the look of your skin--sort of a "super exfoliating" experience. They work by ridding your skin of its top layer of dead, dull cells. This allows the more youthful, moist layer underneath to emerge. This process, frequently referred to as "cell turnover," slows as you age. An at home chemical peel can be a tool for speeding up the process, thereby helping to even out minor variations in skin tone and brighten your complexion. It can also help reduce oiliness and cleanse blackheads.

Q. Are they as effective as physician-administered chemical peels?

A. The results you can expect at home are somewhat limited. For consumer safety, chemical peels available over the counter are usually the lightest of the three main types on the market--those made with alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid or beta hydroxy acids such as salycilic acid. Manufacturers usually market these peels using terms like "refreshing" and "renewing." Seldom will you find an at home peel that claims to address deep wrinkles, widespread discoloration or other more profound skin issues. And as a product you use without a physician handy, they should not have that kind of potency.

There are two other types of chemical peel that penetrate more deeply and should be reserved for professional use. Medium peels, commonly referred to as TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peels, penetrate the epidermis (outer layer of skin) down into the dermis.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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