Understanding Acids and How They Interact with the Skin

Understanding Acids and How They Interact with the Skin

Like many of you, we believe peels can be true miracle workers for the skin when they are administered properly and customized to the client. These powerful, noninvasive treatments, which involve the application of highly specialized acids and enzymes offer solutions for most every skin type and condition, including acne, pigmentation and rosacea, among others. And as clients continue to invest in their skin’s health, they are increasingly drawn to peels to address specific concerns, restore their skin to optimum health, and reveal a more youthful appearance.

The science behind the peels

If you’re like us, you’re fascinated by the science and nature behind acid peels. The first thing to remember is not all acids are created equal. There are four factors that impact how an acid interacts with the skin: chirality, pH, percentage and base.

Chirality: Chirality has a direct impact on how different ingredients affect –– or don’t affect –– the skin. The concept of chirality comes from the discovery that the majority of organic molecules have “left-handed” and “right-handed” parts that mirror one another. The benefit-giving compound of one side is more effective when its other, mirrored molecule is removed. When the more effective molecule is isolated, the ingredient is then considered chirally correct.

For instance, if a peel formula contains lactic acid with both the (L) and (D) forms, its (L) form, which is known for its rejuvenating effects, will be diluted by the (D) form, rendering it ineffective. By using the correct molecules of chiral ingredients –– in this case the highly effective L-lactic acid–– you’ll ensure you’re targeting the right cells to produce the results your client is after.

Percentage and pH:  The pH of an acid and percentage of an acid are also important considerations. The pH dictates an acid’s strength and helps you gauge how it will react with skin, which usually hovers around a pH of 5.5. The lower the pH, the more potent the peel will be. Working in tandem, the percentage of an acid and its ability to create change in the skin will differ depending on what the treatment requires. For instance, a higher glycolic acid with a high pH will affect the skin differently than a lower glycolic acid with a lower pH.

Base: Finally, the base of an acid sets apart a formulation. For instance, an acid with a polymer or gel base will allow for more even penetration into the epidermal layers. Alternately, acids in a cream base would focus concentration on the outer layer of the skin for a gentler rejuvenation.

Different levels to address different needs

There’s no one-size-fits all for healthy skin. Today’s peel treatments can range from progressive to deep, and may be used on their own, layered or mixed with other acids and enzymes to achieve different results. Stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better. We now have numerous acids at our disposal that allow us to stimulate rejuvenation without irritating the skin. With unique formulations like flower acids and ingredients like encapsulated retinaldehyde, you can truly develop a customized approach to your client’s skin care. 

Of the three fundamental levels of peels, progressive peels typically are used to remove dead cells from the outer layer of skin. These treatments are mild, and some can be repeated weekly with light sunburn flaking to no visible signs of peeling. These also encourage skin cell renewal and are effective for treating chronically dry skin and uneven pigmentation at the dermal level. For example, Rhonda Allison’s progressive Go & Glow peel targets tired and dull skin to breakdown dead surface cells while supporting skin regeneration. This treatment incorporates a liquid enzyme peel in addition to 10% TCA/AHA to increase response from skin and soften keratin cells.

A mid-depth peel is considerably more intense, targeting the intra-epidermal layer. These peels have minimal downtime, with full face flaking. Unlike progressive peels which are mild enough to be repeated more frequently, mid-depth peels require more time in between treatments, typically four to six weeks at a minimum and no more than 3 in a row. Mid-depth peels can smooth texture, improve discoloration, mild photo-aging and work to eliminate fine wrinkles. Rhonda Allison’s DNAge A-Peel impacts skin at a cellular level by repairing damage as well as increasing the production of collagen. This formula calls for Melanin Suppressant Solution and Vitamin A+ Peptide Peel to brighten and provide pro-youth benefits.

Deep peels deliver the dramatic results, reaching the intra-epidermal layers to address skin concerns such as discolorations and blotchiness, deep set lines and wrinkles, and acne scars. Recovery will last between 10-12 days, and your client will experience some browning and crusting of their skin followed by significant peeling. While this is the most intense level of peel, that doesn’t mean it is the most effective at restoring and renewing the skin.  Some skins will do great at the Progressive or Mid Depth range.  It solely depends on each individual skin and the results you are wanting to create.   Rhonda Allison’s Skin Recovery deep peel was developed to address acne skin, by both softening lesions and cysts while promoting a reduction in inflammation. Because this peel is stronger than progressive and mid-depth peels, its ingredients will reflect that. Products needed for this peel include 25% AHA, Melanin Suppressant Solution, 10% TCA AHA and Salicylic Solution. 

Before performing an acid peel, or any treatment for that matter, it’s important to speak with your client and clarify their intention for the service. Once you understand their goals, you can take time to examine their skin and determine the best treatment to reach the best results. Performing acid peels is like mastering an art form. The first step is understanding the building blocks that make these treatments a success and leave your clients happy with healthier skin.

In the next post, we’ll cover how to boost the effects of enzymes and acids with powerful boosters that can be added to nearly any treatment.

← Previous Next →