Home Facial Peels: Are They Safe?
The internet affords women the chance to do their own glycolic or salicylic acid peels at home. The strength of the glyolic acid varies from 20% to a whopping 70%. The question is, how safe are they and what are the risks and results? To be perfectly honest with you, I was horrified and concerned that products this strong were being sold online, without a prescription, or medical supervision. So, being the intrepid journalist , I decided to test a kit, and find out first hand what happens.
The site is softly designed in pastels, and offers a broad range of products, ranging from anti-wrinkle cremes and foot therapy products to the glycolic acid peels. As I ranged through the choices and read a pretty bland warning about using the correct product, and patch testing, I was surprised that there were no recommendations or warnings for people with undiagnosed health conditions, or extremely fragile skin.
I ordered a 50% solution, with a 2.1 pH, which is very high for home usage. The maximum found in OTC peels is 15%. There was no questionnaire to fill out, just what size and how I intended to pay the $69.95 they charged. They tossed in a tiny jar of their microdermasion scrub as a “bonus” with my order.
The product arrived in about a week, in a plain brown wrapper:). When I opened it, one of the two bottles had leaked slightly inside the plastic baggie. One bottle contained the glycolic toner, the other, the actual glycolic acid itself. It came with specific instructions on patch testing and directions for applying it correctly. One thing disturbed me, it stated if after 3 minutes, you felt you needed more peeling, to reapply it.
After the patch test, the next day, I applied my first treatment. It burned like fire, to the point my eyes actually watered. After a minute it began easing enough, I stopped considering calling the fire department! Just kidding, but.. it really hurt. The next morning, I awoke to a second degree burn across my chin. This burn took almost 5 full days to heal. On the other areas of my face, particularly the cheek area, the skin did look smoother and firmer. Hesitant to apply the second treatment, after my chin stopped looking like I’d beeen hit by a flame thrower, I re-read the instructions to see if there was something I did wrong, or missed the first time. But I hadn’t, so bravely, sniff.. for the sake of my readers, I embarked on treatment two.
This time, even the pre-peel toner burned so badly, I almost quit right there. But I went ahead and applied the glycolic acid, and experienced the sensation of habanero peppers on my face again. I was wise enough to avoid the still reddened area of my chin. After thoroughly washing it off after 5 minutes, I dried my face gently but thoroughly, and moisturized it. Again, the next morning my skin on my cheeks and forehead showed visibly brighter firmer skin.
In case you’re wondering, I have very good skin, and it’s pretty impervious to being burnt or inflamed. And.. having had an industrial strength peel done once before by a physician, I never experienced the pain or burning I got through this home kit. So here is my bottom line. If you’re willing to risk permanent scarring or accidental blinding, I’d advise staying away from these heavy duty peels. An undiagnosed diabetic especially would be at terrible risk for severe infection or even gangrene. Not to mention, accidental burning of a small and curious child, who might find the bottles too tempting to leave alone.
From the packaging, which was cheap and leaking, to the total disregard for consumer safety on this site, and others I visited, it is my now informed opinion to avoid this at all costs. I am asking my physician who I need to contact, to get these sites pulled from the ‘net, or at least stopped from selling these high concentrate acids. If you want a good peel, save your pennies and have it done by a board certified plastic surgeon. Your skin will thank you for it.