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Mastering the Art of Chemical Peels – A Guide for Medical Estheticians

By May 17, 2024No Comments
Medical Estheticians

With a surge in young people revering selfcare and an aging population intent on living longer and looking and feeling fabulous while doing it, the beauty industry is ever devising ways to deliver services that meet the demand.

One procedure that hits the mark is being taught in medical aesthetic training courses, at beauty college and rising in popularity with clients as a go-to for revitalizing and rejuvenating face, neck, and hands.

The chemical peel is one of the techniques you’ll learn about should you enrol in a medical esthetician course and set your sights on a medical aesthetics certificate. But understanding its foundation and transformative process will empower you to effectively recommend and deliver this service to clients with confidence.

A Medical Esthetician’s Guide to Mastering the Art of Chemical Peels

What is a Chemical Peel? – Derma peeling, chemexfoliation, or chemical peel, is a treatment that allows for the safe exfoliation of damaged and dead skin cells, making way for a fresh and rejuvenated layer of skin to be revealed. Using the power of naturally occurring acids and active chemicals applied to the treatment area, the top layers of skin react and in time slough and peel off, to unveil gloriously new skin beneath.

Why a Chemical Peel? – A choice for those looking to treat certain skin conditions or to improve appearance, reduce fine lines, wrinkles, discolouration, redness, clogged pores, acne, blemishes, and scarring. A chemical peel can improve skin texture by reducing sun damage, increasing collagen, and causing the skin to look and feel firm, smooth, and bright, with often immediate results. It can be performed on face, neck, hands and anywhere a client feels a need for enhancement.

3 Potency Levels of Treatment:

  1. Light or Superficial Peel – For those with mild skin imperfections, minor discolouration, dullness, and roughness. This uses mild acid variants such as alpha-hydroxy. There is a subtle reaction, as there is a focus on the skin’s outermost layer, and the exfoliation is delicate, offering a brightening without deep invasion. This can be done within a few hours and requires little to no healing time.
  2. Medium Peel – Designed to affect more pronounced skin issues, more potent chemicals are used, such as trichloroacetic acid or glycolic acid, that delve into both the outer and middle layers of skin. This treatment targets and alleviates, even eliminates, damaged skin cells that appear as age spots, freckles, and fine lines. Recovery time for this process is about a week or more, with time needed to rest and heal.
  3. Deep Peel – This is where real transformation occurs, using phenol or trichloroacetic acid that penetrate middle to lower skin layers. From age spots, scars, deep wrinkles, to more extensive damage like precancerous growths, the impact of this treatment can be profound, with long-lasting results. This level does require up to eight weeks of pretreatment, is a one-time only treatment and requires a longer healing period.

Steps to Radiant Skin with a Chemical Peel – Taking Your Client on the Adventure

If clients are new to the process, it can be one of mixed emotion, both excitement and apprehension. Your role as an ME is to educate, support and guide them through so that they are informed, prepared, and can relax and enjoy both the treatment and the results that will come with the investment.

  1. Consultation – This is an essential first step. As a skin care specialist, you will ask questions about history and skincare regimen, concerns, and goals. You want to understand precisely what the client is looking for and what is the right treatment for them so that they are comfortable, prepared and satisfied with their experience from start to finish. This step allows you to make a recommendation that is personalized and professional.
  2. The Deep Clean – Now that you’re ready to begin, you need to clear away what’s on the skin to make way for what you will apply. Thoroughly removing makeup residue, impurities and oils is important before the chemical peel begins.
  3. Solution Application – With a clean canvas you’re ready to apply the preselected chemical solution for the depth of treatment they’re going to receive. Intensity of treatment determines the length of time. It will help your client to know that it is typical to feel a slight stinging or tingling sensation indicating the cleansing process is working.
  4. Neutralization – When the treatment time for the level you’re working toward is complete it is essential to neutralize the chemicals to halt the peeling process. This ensures you exfoliate to just the right level.
  5. Aftercare – Gentle removal of the neutralization solution will leave the skin feeling sensitive and so applying ointment and serum work to soothe the skin and calm the client, ending their treatment with that ‘pampered’ feeling.
  6. Homecare – Skincare doesn’t end when the treatment does. The new skin requires special attention, keeping it well moisturized, and particularly protected from the sun. The care to continue at home will depend on the depth of treatment and may come with prescribed creams to aid in the healing process.

Potential Side Effects – While there are myriad benefits and skin is rejuvenated, you must understand and recognize any of these side effects and know how to support the client through to healing.


Redness – It’s typical that the skin will have a flushed look and is a natural response that should reduce in a few days.
Dryness – Because this is a treatment to allow dead skin to release, flakiness is to be expected and should be temporary. Clients want to ensure that the skin is moisturized during this phase.
Some Irritation – Stinging and tingling may linger but should subside quite quickly once the skin begins to heal.

Less Common:

Pigment Changes – Although small, there is a chance that hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening) of the skin can happen. Protecting new skin from the sun can reduce this side effect considerably.
Scarring – Again, although rare there is a possibility that scars can develop from a deeper peel. Following post-procedure instructions can reduce this risk significantly, from creams to ensuring the client doesn’t pick at the surface during the healing process.
Infections – It is essential during the healing process that the skin is kept clean and doesn’t come in contact with contaminants and that prescribed creams are applied as directed.

While the risks are minimal the benefits are extraordinary, hence the reason chemical peels, as a way to prevent and deal with skin damage and conditions, are a popular method of care. A leading-edge beauty institute and medical esthetics course will offer you in-depth training, both theoretical and hands-on, in this and all treatments relevant to the industry and your future clients, so that you’re confident and in demand, upon graduation.

If you’re ready to see where a Medical Esthetician career can take you, we’re here to help you navigate each step along the way to achieve your goals. Speak with an admissions advisor today and let’s get you started!

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