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Is a Chemical Peel Safe for Sensitive Skin?

Those with sensitive skin may feel apprehensive about trying new products and cosmetic procedures, even if said products and procedures stand to benefit their skin. Indeed, chemical peels are meant to be potent enough to remove dead skin cells and stimulate collagen production, which can sound overly aggressive to some. Still, when administered properly, a chemical peel can improve mild scarring and acne, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reverse visible sun damage, and mitigate pigmentation problems. If you’re concerned about further irritating your skin, however, you might wonder whether a chemical peel is worth it in the first place.

So, are chemical peels safe for people with sensitive skin? There’s no simple answer to this question, so let’s go over some key considerations to better inform your decision.

What to Know About Chemical Peels and Sensitive Skin

Not All Chemical Peels Are the Same

First, it’s important to note that there are many different types of chemical peels available. While every chemical peel is meant to serve the same basic function, some are more powerful than others. Lactic and salicylic acid peels, for instance, are typically less harsh than, say, glycolic and retinoic acid peels. There are also phytic, trichloroacetic (TCA), and carbolic acid peels. Without getting into the weeds, each type and combination of acids can aid with different skin conditions and may be better suited for different levels of skin sensitivity. Knowing this, it’s wise to do your homework about different chemical peels and discuss these matters with your dermatologist to pad your understanding.

Skin Sensitivity Isn’t Always the Issue

Even if you think you suffer from sensitive skin, you might actually be mistaken, clinically speaking. Those with rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions are considered to have sensitive skin – if you don’t have any of these conditions but are still prone to irritation and breakouts, you might actually be misusing or overusing certain products. The best way to determine your skin sensitivity is to find a reliable dermatologist who can examine and test your skin. From there, your skincare professional can help you better manage your unique skin type and open the door for new products and procedures that might help you, including chemical peels. Indeed, the right chemical peel can help you restore your skin’s barrier, reducing inflammation and sensitivity overall.

Preparation Matters

Finally, the safety and efficacy of a given chemical peel in no small part depends on what happens before the procedure takes place. Like all other cosmetic treatments, proper preparation matters. It’s good to get an early start with chemical peel prep, aiming for a lead time of at least two weeks to make your skin more receptive to penetration. You’ll also want to stop using certain abrasive skincare products within 3-5 days of treatment. Read our previous blog, “How to Get Ready for a Chemical Peel,” for more detailed information regarding chemical peel preparation, regardless of skin type.

The Verdict

So, is a chemical peel safe for sensitive skin? It depends. With proper preparation, milder chemical peels are safe and useful for most skin types, and more aggressive peels can actually help make one’s skin more resilient when properly administered. The bottom line: talk to your dermatologist about chemical peels – they might recommend a specific chemical peel for sensitive skin or insist that you hold off on this procedure.

At Premier Dermatology Partners, we’re here to give patients the best advice and care for their unique skin types. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.

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