Have you noticed that skin gets rougher looking as we grow older? Yeah… not a good look. Cosmetic companies make primers and all kinds of crud to smooth out the appearance. However, I would think going to the source – that is, smoothing the skin texture rather than adding more pore-stuffing products would be a better solution. One of the most popular ways is with a peel.
his post will address acid peels, which is a form of chemical exfoliation. We’ll start with the mildest and work our way up to the powerhouses of at-home peels. There are gobs of chemical exfoliation products, but in this post, we’ll focus on two different categories – natural and inexpensive. I mean, why pay more, right?
Baking Soda and Mild Acid Peels
Gentle exfoliation can be achieved easily by using about a tablespoon of baking soda with your current face wash. You will find that it is not abrasive or drying, but does a decent job of light exfoliation. I do this almost daily and I find that blackhead prone areas stay pretty clear. For a quickie facial, try applying a good apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the skin, wait about 5-10 minutes, then do the baking soda wash.
Salicylic Acid in ‘da House
Although aspirin is touted as a great salicylic acid source, it actually is a source of acetylsalicylic acid which does not break down completely to salicylic acid unless it is ingested. Consequently, the results using aspirin may not be as good as anticipated. To the Internet! “What are the best sources of salicylic acid in other food sources?” Three of the best are blackberries, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. There are other fruit/vegetable sources but in the Midwest, these are likely the cheapest.
Pineapple Juice (Bromelain) – AHA Peel
Bromelain is a combination of enzymes that contains alpha hydroxy acid. These enzymes, along with AHA, help remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin by chemical exfoliation. Bromelain also destroys the keratin of dead cells and any surface dirt/gunk. When you remove dead tissue during exfoliation, you make your pores appear smaller because you remove the keratinized skin around the edges of your pores and make them less visible (BONUS!).
You may want to try a pineapple / cantaloupe / egg white mask, whipped and applied. This needs to sit for about 30 minutes to get effects. This mask is also gentle and restorative effects will be best realized with repetition.
Proceed with caution with alpha hydroxy acid and glycolic acid. They come in different concentrations (identified by a percentage). The higher the percentage, the more concentrated and caustic they are. For a first time user, start with a lower percentage and work your way up to higher concentrations as your skin becomes accustomed to the acid. These can cause burns and directions for use should be followed carefully.
From my personal experience, I’ve used an alpha hydroxy acid peel that was a two-step process from a famous drugstore beauty cream maker starting with an “O”. It helped but it didn’t have dramatic results. It sort of had a diminishing return effect too: that is, it didn’t work as well subsequent times as it did the first time.
I’ve used glycolic acid on a routine basis for months, doing it every other week or so. There are risks in overuse, so heed advice about frequency of use.
- Fast! Takes like 10 minutes
- Noticeable results from first use
- Pretty inexpensive on Amazon
- It burns. And subsequent uses seem to burn more than the first Noticeable results
- Can cause damage if directions are not followed closely
- Does cause peeling, but not severe if directions are followed
The basic how to is as follows:
- Fill sink with cool water and add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to the water.
- Apply acid to skin with a cotton swab.
- Leave on according to guidelines based on the concentration/strength of the product. Do your research. I use 40% and leave it on 3-7 minutes.
- When you can’t stand it anymore (or time is up based the concentration you have), rinse with cool baking soda water.
- Moisturize thoroughly.
- You will probably notice immediate redness (similar to a mild sunburn) and peeling may occur after a day or so. The peeling is not like major sunburn peel. It is usually fine and easily managed with creams. From my experience – if used properly.
You probably get the message that you need to be careful and go easy with glycolic acid until you see how it works for you. And not just the first time of use – every time. EVERY TIME.
So there you go…. Lots of options and like many things in life – the greater the risk the better the return. If this is all new to you, try some of the lighter peels first and see how you do. As you get more comfortable, work your way up to the more dramatic products. I think even the lighter ones do provide benefit and have a presence in every woman’s anti-aging toolkit.