The Acid test
Trying out chemical peels
If you think facial peels are not for the faint-hearted think again, they
are actually a brilliant solution for a wide range of skin conditions
Brushing acid on your face sounds like a horrendous way to get rid of wrinkles and pigmentation, but banish horror movie scenarios right now!
Unless you choose a harsher more radical treatment - you’ll discover they are a fantastic route to a refined, polished skin.
Peels use various kinds of acids - including glycolic, lactic and salicylic, depending on your concerns and skin type - to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the growth of new cells.
AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (lactic
or glycolic acid) increase cell turnover and renewal rates stimulating exfoliation for example, while BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acid) such as salicylic acid contain larger molecules and remove dead skin cells and are good for unclogging pores.
How radical the peel you choose depends upon how brave you are - after all not many of us can afford to spend a week in hiding as the old skin flakes off and new ‘baby’ skin appears, but it is possible to achieve visible results with milder procedures, as we discovered when we put peels to the acid test...
THE SENSITIVE SKIN BRIGHTENER
The Treatment: Zo Ossential Stimulator Peel
The clinic: Renovatio Clinic, Rostherne, Altrincham
Tested by: Katie Mulloy, Editor The verdict: Healthy looking skin
Stubborn adult acne throughout my twenties has left my 30-something skin puckered and scarred which definitely makes the first (although they feel more like second or third) signs of aging more pronounced. My biggest problem isn’t that I have a few lines on my face - I have no problems with aging and don’t crave an alien-like Instagram smoothness – it’s that my skin is about as far from healthy and glowing as you can get. It looks perpetually dull while my super sensitive Celtic complexion means I have a constant redness that requires covering with concealer.
Ergo, I need a peel that will do its job – brighten, refresh, make the lines look a little less obvious – without aggravating my already sensitive skin. And so up steps The Renovatio Clinic and its Zo Ossential Stimulator Peel. Zo stands for Zane Obagi and Obagi skincare is well known in clinic-standard circles. This is his second-generation offering, a slightly gentler, more sophisticated version of what he’s done before. The Stimulator Peel is a mix of alpha hydroxy acids – lactic, citric and glycolic which work together to slough away all the dull-making dead skin cells. Meanwhile diglucosyl gallic acid helps restore skin tone and quells inflammation. Before all that is applied, the therapist uses a lactic-acid based prep to help the ingredients penetrate the skin. Neither process hurts. There is a slight tingling I suppose but nothing uncomfortable and when I’m left under an antiinflammatory lamp, which uses different colour waves of light to stimulate collagen, kill bacteria and dampen down inflammation, I even doze off. The result: My face feels pumped and plumped, like the lowest of electric currents is running through it. There is no downtime; no horrible peeling or dramatic redness. It feels slightly tighter than normal for a few days but it also looks fresher and brighter. I’m not after timereversing miracles; just healthier looking skin. And this certainly delivers on that front.
Price: £95 (£35 for the light therapy) renovatioclinic.co.uk
THE WRINKLE ERASER
The treatment: SkinCeuticals City Radiance Facial
The clinic: Susan Kitchen Aesthetics, Chester
Tester: Janet Reeder,
The verdict: Looking good! With face fillers and frotox in our anti-ageing armoury it’s easy to overlook skin health and yet as I’ve discovered as I get older, it’s your skin’s condition that will ultimately show your age.
I’m of the generation that would fry their face in the sun, with minimal if any sun protection (I know! One of a few regrets in life). I have been fortunate in many ways as thanks to using some good skincare I don’t have too many wrinkles and only the faintest of brown sun spots but these are things that bug me all the same.
Susan Kitchen Aesthetics uses SkinCeuticals products to correct these problems, as well as prevent future skin damage through antioxidant enriched serums.
Facialist Jill decided that as I had little discolouration my peel should concentrate on lack of firmness and wrinkles.
My peel featured a 20% concentration of glycolic acid, I could have increased the strength to a maximum of 40% glycolic, which includes 10% citric acid but that’s for skin with more pigmentation that I have.
During the treatment, I experienced the kind of tingling you’d get if you sat in the sun for an hour without sunscreen (I should know!) but after the acid is neutralised and I’d lain for 15 minutes in a Clinicare
Pure anti-inflammatory mask, the sensation disappeared completely.
To boost skin protection, following the neutraliser, Jill used C E Ferulic a synergistic antioxidant combination of 15% pure vitamin C, 1% vitamin E and 0.5% ferulic acid to enhance protection against environmental damage. She also applied a postpeel lymphatic drainage massage using Age Interrupter, an anti ageing cream.
I am really pleased with the results. My skin was immediately smoother and stayed fresh and firmer for a week afterwards. It may not have radical results but it would be a lovely peel to have before a special occasion when you want your skin to have that youthful inner glow. Price: £65, susankitchenaesthetics.com
THE ULTRASONIC SMOOTHER
The treatment: Elemis Biotec Skin Resurfacer
The clinic: The Spa at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester Tester: Alisha Davis,
The Verdict: Got the glow Having suffered with eczema throughout my life, one thing I struggle with is dull, dry and ultra-sensitive skin, which is why I’m often wary when it comes to facial peels. The thought of having to deal with a red, puffy reaction is instantly off-putting.What appeals about this facial is that it starts with an ultrasonic peel using a device that creates ultrasonic waves and a high frequency vibration that can be changed to suit your skin’s needs. This removes dead skin cells, and is one of the more gentler peels available. The skin is then treated with blue and red light therapy. Blue light therapy contains antibacterial properties, and can reduce the symptoms accompanied with eczema such as irritation, whereas the red light therapy increases natural hydration levels, reduced redness and inflammation, and
How radical the peel you choose depends on how brave you are
accelerates skin repair. All things an eczema sufferer really needs.
After the treatment, my face instantly felt refreshed, smooth and had a glow that only an expensive highlighter manages to create. My skin didn’t look or feel dry and the tightness I’m used to when using new products didn’t occur. The combined affect of the gentle peel, light therapy and massage left me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my massive to-do list. I will definitely be returning to get an instant boost and natural glow when I’m in the mood to embrace the no-make up look.
Price from: £75, thelowryhotel. com/spa/spa-treatments
THE GLOW BOOSTER
Priori Superceutical Peel with lightfusionTM
The clinic: Courthouse Clinic, Wilmslow
Tester: Kate Houghton,
The verdict: I’ll be back!
Once you hit 40, your body’s metabolism slows, things don’t happen as they used to and you start to notice differences. One change I have noticed is a dullness, an increased feeling of dryness in my skin. No glow where there used to be. CC creams and foundations sit more heavily and my day cream doesn’t absorb so well. A peel, I decided, might help with this. Courthouse Clinics use Priori products for all their facial peels. They are, my therapist Becky says, the best she’s ever worked with, as they are all about the end result: no fancy packaging, no seductive scents, no pretty promises, just pure purpose. I explained that I wanted something simple, relatively painless and with no concerns about having to hide away for days so my red and flaky skin didn’t frighten the children.
She advised that a Priori Superceutical Peel, applied for just one minute, would deliver excellent results with no scary side-effects. This would be immediately followed by a ten minute lightfusion treatment. Lightfusion uses different wavelengths of light to alter biological activity in the skin, helping promote collagen and elastin synthesis, improve the blood flow and eliminate toxins. It is used as both a standalone facial treatment and to boost results from peels.
The Priori peel is a glycolic and lactic acid based solution, which can be left on for between one and three minutes. As I haven’t had any peel pre-preparation, using Priori products, Becky advises that one minute will be quite long enough. At first, as she brushes on the solution, I feel nothing more than a slight chill. This soon changes however, and my face quickly starts to feel itchy and a bit raw. It wasn’t awful, but it would be wise to build to the three minute mark over a series of treatments, I think!
After another cleanse, Becky applies a serum-infused mask to my face, then fits the lightfusion mask, for a ten minute treatment. She finishes with eye cream and serum, a moisturiser and a SPF45 suncream.
Following the treatment, my face feels lush; hydrated, and soft to the touch. Over the next week I see a definite increase in glow, my serums and moisturisers glide on with ease, and the removal of the build-up of dead skin cells ensures they absorb more efficiently too.
This would ideally be the first in a series of treatments, building to a three minute peel and then supported by regular maintenance treatments. Having seen the results of a single, entry level peel, I would definitely go back.
Price: from £55, courthouseclinics.com