What you need to know about skin peels
Have you ever been tempted to have a face peel? Many women are, mostly because the procedure promises smooth skin which looks young and fresh. It's certainly true that the peels have moved on a lot in recent years, but they should still be approached with caution. According to skincare expert Dr Marko Lens, the main area for concern is when people become too dependent on the procedure.
"Go to the US and you see the American ladies with thin skin. Why? Because they have peeled and over peeled and over peeled," he told Cover Media. "The reason why (their skin looks bad is) because the skin barrier function was never repaired."
What's crucial to understand here is the role vitamin D has within the skin. This vitamin is responsible for the normal cell cycle of the epidermis; it fortifies the skin barrier function, meaning the skin is able to protect itself from environmental aggressors and microbes. Put simply: a weak skin barrier means sensitive, unhealthy looking skin.
Aggressive washing and over applying products can harm the skin's barrier function, so imagine the effect a peel has. Obviously caring for the face after such a process will eventually allow it to be repaired, but if you constantly opt for severe peels your skin never has time to recover.
"If you check the levels of (these women's) vitamin D they will all be depleted and they all have more chance of getting skin cancer, because by destroying the lipid barrier they are more sensitive to the sun damage," Marko explained.
"It's kind of a circle that we see that they've created by depleting the barrier function - probably in a couple of years people will realise that you don't have to be harsh to your skin to realise that something is working. Technically, I never understood and will never in my practice use aggressive peels and aggressive abrasion - rollers than put holes in your skin and stuff like that. Why do you need to traumatise your skin? I understand that they think, 'OK, a little bit of trauma will boost the collagen production' and all this stuff. It doesn't work that way because each time, yes, it's logical that if you traumatise a little bit - like if you have a wound, that's a trauma, the skin acts immediately, but there's always an inflammation component. Whenever you activate that inflammation component you also activate the ageing process."
This is because as we age, we lose lipids (such as fatty acids which are part of the barrier function) in our skin. Therefore, getting rid of them with a peel could result in the same outcome. "Protecting barrier function is the (most important thing)," Marko added. "That will lead to transepidermal water loss, more aged skin, more sensitive skin, skin more prone to sun damage and definitely thinner skin."