Cosmetic “spa” procedures are a quick way to perk up tired skin while maintaining a healthy complexion. While they are often offered by professional spas and dermatologists in more concentrated doses, these treatments can also be done with at-home kits.
Despite their name, chemical peels don’t really “peel” anything. Instead, they use a precise chemical solution to dissolve the topmost layer of the skin and expose new skin cells that lie beneath it. The body perceives this exposure as a kind of wound, which stimulates a natural healing response. New, healthy tissue then builds in its place, and the skin experiences a superficial rejuvenation.
A dermatologist or aesthetician usually begins a chemical peel by swabbing the solution over the skin’s surface, where it is allowed to rest and go to work. (While professional or medical peels may use chemicals like phenol and trichloroacetic acid, most at-home kits will make use of milder chemical solutions like glycolic acid and alpha hydroxy acid). Once the solution has dissolved the surface cells, it is wiped away and the skin is cleansed.
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Like a chemical peel, microdermabrasion aims to remove the most superficial layers of the skin. It achieves this by scrubbing or sanding away dead skin cells with an abrasive gel or cloth. Gels represent a particulate method — tiny crystals in the gel rub away the cells, which are then suctioned off the surface of the skin. At-home methods usually skip the suction and simply have you apply the gel with a paddle, although even milder microdermabrasion techniques exist in the form of facial scrubs and exfoliating body washes.
A regular microdermabrasion treatment can be an excellent way to keep your skin soft and smooth, and remove dead skin cells. Just don’t forget the sunscreen when you’re done.
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