The home chemical peel diaries 1

It’s no secret to blog readers how obsessed I am with skin care. In this quest, I’ve just added a new element to my skin care regimen: chemical peels. It began with an in-office peel I did in August, which I blogged about here.

My formal diary didn’t begin until several peels later, but I’ve gone back to recreate some of my experiences, and I’ve used my notes (yes, I keep written notes on days, times, procedures, and results) to use as a resource for these diaries. My hope is that by sharing my experience, I can help add to the pool of knowledge that exists for others to draw from when embarking on their own journeys with DIY chemical peels.

Day One: This is the 2nd peel in a series of 7, and my first attempt at using the Vitalize peel at home. It’s also my first home chemical peel, and I was nervous but believed in the research I conducted. 

It’s been 12 days since my last peel, which was done in-office. I followed instructions on how to properly cleanse the skin using the professional preperation solution. I applied lip balm to my lips, and then a light layer around the orbital socket of the eye, including the skin above and below the eyelid itself. The lips and the eye socket should be protected during a peel, and should never be exposed to the chemicals.

I used about 15 drops of the Vitalize peel and saturated one cotton ball with solution. I used light and quick strokes, applying from the forehead to the temples, the cheekbones, the cheeks, the chin, upper lip and lastly, the nose.

Within about 30-60 seconds, there is a tingle to the skin, like a light prickling feeling, and I can notice a faint, strange smell in the air as the chemicals continue to react to your skin. I hand-fanned my skin, and waited 5 minutes for the skin to stop reacting as the peel self-neutralized. Then, I repeated this procedure for a second time.

No frosting, and only a few very light pink patches immediately after application, but very small and unnoticable.

Day Two: No effect. I figure it’s too early to tell. The in-office procedures all say to wait 3-5 days to see the peel. Using tons of SPF lotion and wearing hats religiously.

Day Three: Nothing but a few flakes, and I mean a very few, around the corners of the mouth.

Summation: I continued to see no other signs of peeling, and doing further research decided to add a secondary peeling acid, TCA (trichloroacetic acid), to mimic the retinoic acid used after the Vitalize peel when at the doctor’s office. I bought a 12% solution, and plan to dilute the acid to 8% for my first application so that I can ease into usage, and gauge how my skin reacts to the TCA.

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (1)  
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DIY facial peels at home

It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging about my skin care resolutions. I’ve taken some drastic steps of late (well, drastic to me).

Last month, I splurged on a Vitalize facial peel from the doctor’s office. I hoped for more than the experience provided, honestly. I hardly peeled at all, and the entire experience didn’t bring the radiance and clarity I was hoping for, but I’ve been told that for the best results, a series of 3-6 peels is best. At over $150 a pop? Not in my budget.

Here is where we must talk softly, because I’ve ventured into DIY land. Vitalize facial peels are sold on ebay, but without the retinoic acid, because that’s only sold to doctors. Vitalize is a mixture of lactic and salycic acids, which provide a light peel on their own (called a “lunchtime peel” since they require little to no downtime). For better results, these “combination peels” are followed up by a different acid (usually retinoic acid in the Dr.’s office) which cause the most peeling action, and penetrates slightly deeper.

My first venture in home facial peels was to apply the Vitalize I bought (and it wasn’t cheap, even on ebay), just by itself. I was very nervous, and applied 2 light coats of the Vitalize peel, and felt the burn the same as the doctor’s office. However, I barely peeled or flaked at all, so after doing some more research from other DIYers, I’ve found adding a peeling acid can help you get the most from the peel.

TCA (trichloroacetic acid) is sold on at various strengths, and decent prices. TCA is the active ingredient in the popular Obagi Blue Peel, and when used at 20% (or even 25%) can provide what is known as a “medium peel,” meaning it penetrates deeper than the light, “lunchtime” peels, and requires a bit more recovery time.

But I’m not that ballsy. I bought the 12% TCA and plan to dilute it to about 8% with distilled water to use for my next DIY treatment. For combination peels, you don’t want to shoot for the moon, and caution is good in my world. This is acid that we are putting on our face, after all. And I should mention, I’ve waited 2 weeks between each peel, and my intention is to continue the peels over the next 2 months, so results will be ongoing still. Two to three weeks between peels is what my doctor recommended for in-office work, and at this point, I’ve never needed downtime to recover (my peels have all been very light).

For others who want to research their own DIY facial peels, you may wish to look into Jessner’s, which is a combination peel also sold on, and it contains slightly higher percentages of the salycic and lactic acids than the Vitalize version but at a much more affordable cost.

Lastly, the skin care experiment wouldn’t be complete without a new miracle water, so I gave in and bought a sample sized bottle of SK II Facial Treatment Essence. Hyped for its anti-aging and pore reducing qualities, SK II is loaded with “pitera,” derived from sake wine and touted as, literally, miracle water. Insanely expensive at retail, I found a sealed sample on ebay and nabbed that instead. My bottle arrived yesterday, I’ve used it twice. It feels nice and light, velvety smooth, and tightens the skin without making it feel dried out. Miracles? Not yet, but let’s give it time. At the very least, I figured it would soothe the new skin that I’m revealing through the peels.

Before I go, I want to add that doing home peels takes steady nerves, prevailing logic and common sense, as well as some cojones. If you do take on the challenges yourself, remember… go slowly. Patch test, especially if you’ve never had peels done in a professional setting. And for goodness sake, keep your delicate face out of the sun! I’ve discontinued using all other retinol products (including my tretinoin night cream, too harsh), have been using a higher SPF daily, and wearing hats religiously to protect my face from sun damage. Be careful, use your common sense, and then go for it!

I’ll keep you posted on my results!

Almighty skin update 6.0

Isn’t it great that I managed to stick with this New Year’s resolution 6 months later? I’m impressed, shocked even.

So, last month I vowed to fix the broken clip and start using my red-blue LED skin therapy light, aka “the Almighty,” regularly once more. First, I duct-taped the bejesus outta this thing, and after the third day it fell on my head while I was using it from beneath. Ouch!

I’ve been resting in bed and holding it vertically 4″ from my face now instead, usually for 15 minutes a day. Some days I’ve skipped, and some days I’ve done 30 minutes instead of 15 so I guess it all averages out. And… The Glow Is Back!

Again, as before, I notice after the first few treatments my skin is beginning to look slightly flushed and pink, glowing once more. Hooray! I attribute this to the increase in circulation, and it’s addicting to see in the mirror, I admit. The gadget is set to red LEDs at 660 nm, which seems to be the most effective setting.

One day, I spooked myself by wondering if red-blue LED lights give off carcinogenic radiation, and the thought that I was pumping my face full of it… just my luck, right? The answer is no, LED lights do not emit carcinogenic radiation. I might have read this fact before when initially researching LED skin therapy, but if so I had forgotten about it until recently.

The only other update is the fact that I started a new jar of Pond’s Cold Cream, as per my skin care regimen, and I bought the wrong “flavor.” The last jar I had was a “cool, cucumber formula” and this new one I bought isn’t. They both have a light green top and similar front packaging. And, it’s a lot thicker and oilier than the last jar I had. So far, it’s not making my skin break out, so I’ll keep up with it.

Still using Tretinoin about 3-4X a week, with breaks on nights my skin gets too irritated and dry. I have no idea what effect it’s having on my wrinkles because mostly I’m enamoured by the return of my pink glow, thanks to the Almighty. Still using daily L’oreal’s Revitalift with SPF, although it’s heavier and greasier than the Revitalift Dual Tube (without SPF), which I prefer. 

At six months, the most effective aspects of the skin care resolution have been 1) the red LED skin care gadget, 2) the Pond’s cold cream and spinning facial brush, and 3) of course, daily lotion with SPF. Least effective seem to be water and vitamins… which is to say, these help your skin, but in less immediately noticable ways.

In the past six months, I have seen 1) an increase in skin’s radiance, 2) less coloration on my age and sun spots, 3) plumper and more responsive skin tone, bounces back with less crepe, 4) less lines around the lip and mouth, with less lipstick bleeding, and 5) a slight reduction in the depth and prominence of my wrinkles. Those are good results! Good enough that I’m staying motivated to keep at this resolution, right?

Next month we’ll see how my upcoming vacation plays havoc with the skin care regimen, and if I can stick to my resolution when out of my element?

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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Almighty skin update 5.0

I had to count on my fingers to try to remember how many months I’ve been doing these updates now. I missed last month… so sue me, eh?

Let’s back up to last March, I was sick and yet trying to keep up with the Almighty, and my entire skin care regimen. I renewed my vows to start using it daily.

After 3 days of seeing my vows through, I broke the clip that holds the light. Sigh. It was all my fault too. So, I quit using the Almighty. This was a good thing in retrospect, however, since suspending the treatment (yet keeping up with the rest of my regimen) allowed me to discover what, if any, effect the LED is having.

First, let’s review the regimen and all the products’ 5-month feedback…

The Pond’s cold cream and facial spinning brush is wicked good. A++. So good, that when I hit the bottom of the jar, I curbed my impulse to try a new skin miracle makeup cream, and stuck with what works. My skin is dry, and I live in the desert, this stuff rocks my world.

The vitamins, C-. I finished the bottle and I cannot tell you in any way, shape or form how they may have helped my skin. I would argue that vitamins aren’t going to show dramatic and immediate results, but that they are still beneficial. But I can’t share any results from taking them, because there is no noticable effect. I’m done with the special vitamins… I’ll stick to my multi-vitamin, calcium/magnesium supplement, and folic acid/omega 3. Three vitamin pills a day are enough to choke down.

This dual-tube L’oreal Revitalift is still my favorite facial lotion, A+, but I’m only using it sporadically. I finally did buy some Revitalift with SPF for my daytime summer skin routine, but it has a different texture and scent than the one I’ve been using all winter. This stuff is still my favorite OTC lotion, and the only one that wouldn’t cause breakouts due to excess oil on my skin.

The Tretinoin (generic Retinol) night time lotion is having a modest but positive effect on diminishing my wrinkles, so I give it a B-. I’ve finally reached the point where I can use it on my face about 4-5 days a week. I take breaks in between, mostly because I forget some nights, but also due to occassional excessive dryness (in which case, I reach for the dual tube Revitalift lotion as my alternative).

Water, 64 ounces daily. Um… for me most days yes, but not always. I refuse to grade water’s effect on my skin. It’s just a healthier habit to have, so I try my best, but I admit to being a black tea addict, so there ya go.

Which brings our post back to where we began, the absence of the Almighty. The radiance that I saw before is gone, and I miss it. The effect on wrinkles might not have been so dramatic, but the radiance and clarity was much more pronounced when I was using it, even sporadically.

I must must must find a way to use it again. Rig a new clip to the headboard, grab the duct tape and fix what I can… I dunno. But at this point, I would say the Almighty did have a positive effect on my skin, and that discontinuing usage (yet keeping up with the rest of my routine) resulted in loss of radiance and clarity. Maybe a little loss of elasticity too.

New vow: fix the Almighty and go back to using it, a lot, again. And keep up with the blogging, because it really does help me stay motivated and maintain my regimen.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm  Comments (5)  
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Almighty 3.0

Alright, no one but me is really interested in these skin updates, but blogging the results once a month is part of my attempt at staying on track and remaining disciplined about my new year’s skin care resolution.

It’s been a tough month. The kids caught colds, and once I finished nursing them back to health, I’ve been unable to shake the cold myself (it’s been 3 weeks of coughing). We’ve had spring break (which means, my 8 year old is bouncing off the walls and riling up my 2 year old all day long). Even today and tomorrow are MORE days off from school (why didn’t they have this many days off when I was a kid?), the sun is barely up, and my children are raising Cain in the background while I type. I wake up exhausted every day (including today).

My point is: I’ve been literally sick and tired, and skin care is low on the list of things to-do. Blogging is low on the list of things to-do. Everything that doesn’t involve survival is low on the to-do list.

My skin results are the same as ever. My forehead wrinkles look slightly improved. My eyes look tired though, because I am. 

Tretinoin (generic Retinol) lotion: Still really harsh on my skin. I remember to put it on maybe 2 or 3 days a week, with the hope that cumulative results are still in the making.

Water: Sorta.

Vitamins: Only thing I’ve really kept up with, mostly from desperation to get healthy.

Pond’s + scrubby brush: Down from daily use to more like once or twice weekly. Too tired to care, and brushing my teeth is taking priority.

“Almighty” red LED therapy: Here’s where I need to get serious. Many nights, I’ve fallen into bed and been too tired to even watch TV, or knit, much less set up the red light wand. I’ve used the Almighty maybe once a week this past month.

But I’m going to recommit myself to 15 minutes a day with the Almighty, every day. And I hope to God that by the next Almighty update I’ll be much healthier and more energetic again.

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Almighty results 2.0

Two months into the Great Skin Care Experiment, and I’m ready to share more of the latest results.

Let’s start with the Tretinoin (generic Retinol) cream. I was SO excited to start using my miracle-in-a-tube. My skin, however, was not as excited. My doctor recommended using the night cream “every other day for the first week, until your skin adjusts.”

Instead, I turned into a lizard for the first 2 weeks. I have never seen my skin molt so much, it was gross. “Every other day” wasn’t happening, not with the way my face was falling off, so I ended up using it twice a week for the first 2 weeks, about 3-4 times the 3rd week, and now I use it about 5 days a week. I still need to take a break occassionally when my epidermis is falling off again.

Is it working? Seriously, people… I’ve put the cream on my face maybe 10 times in the past month. Too soon to say. But I’m keeping at it.

And, of course, it’s been 8 weeks since I first began using the Almighty. At week 4, I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen the same results as the LED wand I bought prior. However, I did some more reading and discovered one big problem in my usage of it: I had it on the “wrong” setting. The apparatus can be set for low-medium-high, and being the typical American, I figured, “Bigger is always better,” and set the Almighty on high.

Turns out, the medium setting targets the skin at 660 nm beneath the skin (which is the frequency that the LED wand operates at). The high setting penetrates the skin at 880 nm, and for my purposes, I don’t think the first 4 weeks of treatment were doing much of anything. Maybe improved circulation, but that’s about it.

So here we are now, I’m still using it about 3-4 times a week (for one 15-minute session… if I had more time in a day, I’d up it to 30 minutes, but as of yet that hasn’t happened). I think the Almighty works, but I can’t tell you how. My wrinkles are trying to retreat, but gravity is a constant. I just feel as if I am putting light into my face, and that my face radiates more now… it’s a strange description to capture. The medium setting also makes my skin tingle pleasantly, the same as the wand did. So maybe at last, I’m using this correctly.  

I still think the most effective part of my new regimen is the Pond’s + spinning facial brush. The Pond’s saved me during my lizard phase, the spinning brush removed the molting skin and kept me looking less Zygon, and more human.

The vitamins? Still choking them down. I’ve made them a part of my calcium discipline so I don’t forget to take them, but once these are gone, I doubt I’ll go right out for more. Still would like to try straight biotin and see how that works.

L’oreal’s Revitalift lotion… love love love. Still using it, same bottle I bought 2 months ago, and it helped get me through my Tretinoin lizard-ness. Think I’ll look for the brand with an SPF for a good summer daily lotion.

Overall? I’m happier about my radiance than I am about my wrinkles. But I’ll take what I can get.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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Almighty results?

It’s officially one month since I began my skin care experiment. Results time! My goals were:

  • 2 15-minute sessions with the Almighty daily
  • Morning and evening facial scrubs with Pond’s cold cream, using my electric spin brush thingy
  • GNC’s Hair, Nails and Skin vitamins daily
  • L’oreal’s Revitalift skin lotion twice daily
  • 32 ounces of water (cheapest, but hardest for me to stick with)
  • I’ve faithfully used the Almighty — usually one 15-minute session a day, sometimes twice — and only missed 2 days in the past month. The results fom my $40 LED wand were more impressive at 4 weeks, which is disheartening, but I still see improvement, so not so disheartening that I’ve discontinued use. However, with the wand, I would place it directly against my skin, and I bask in the Almighty’s light, about 6-8″ from the lights themselves. This could lessen the results, but I’m sticking with it. (Click the pic for the best ebay price I could find, if you’re in the mood to shop).

    The Pond’s cold cream and electric spinning brush ($24) is by far the most effective part of the regimen. I credit this for my really smooth, velvety cheeks and brighter complexion. The spinning brush is a wicked good buy, I’ve had mine for over 2 years and it’s still going strong.

    The GNC vitamins do seem to be working, but I’m noticing hair growth and slightly stronger nails more than anything. Bravo ho HannahM got me all excited about the power of biotin, and after these vitamins run out, I’m gonna try plain, OTC biotin vitamins. But, my hair is brushing my forearms again!

    L’oreal’s Revitalift lotion is interesting. Love that it moisturizes without causing breakouts (as usually happens when I use facial lotions regularly). Maybe the Almighty’s blue LEDs are working too? Dries light on the skin, not greasy. But, I don’t love that there’s no SPF, so I can’t use this for on days I’m going outside.

    And water? Sure it helps, but can you quantify how water helps? I didn’t think so either, but I still know it’s good for me, and for my skin. I know, I should drink more than 32 oz. a day, but give me credit for trying.

    What’s next? I’ve gone to my dermatologist for my tri-annual mole exam, and updated my Tretinoin (generic Retinol) facial cream prescription. Last time, I used the lotion for all of 2 weeks before finding out I was pregnant (and Retinol products are a HUGE NO NO during pregnancy and nursing!) So let’s hope this time I can use it long enough to see good results. Tretinoin is known to show modest results in only one month, and continuous improvement for up to one year.

    Overall? Minor wrinkle diminishment (not as much as hoped). No breakouts, no zits (which I expected, so pleasantly surprised there). Big time improvement on clarity, brightness and texture though! And, my experiment has helped me set better daily habits that I hope to continue with throughout the year.

    As for the Almighty? I’m still using it! And still glad I bought it, even without the drastic 30-day results I hoped for. But I’ll check back in at the end of February and let you know.

    (And yes, poppy… I’m looking less blowzy too. I’m not acting any less blowzy, though).

    Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments (8)  
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    Glycollic peels? Mud masks? What if you could do both with just one inexpensive, organic, centuries-old ayurvedic product?

    Since I’m obsessed with skin care this month, I’m sharing another of my home staples — amla, the Hindi word for the plant called Indian Gooseberry, and I’ve been hooked on it since my 2007 introduction at a henna conference.

    Unlike henna, when amla is mixed with water, it does not dye the skin but uses the power of the plant’s vitamin C to slough off dead skin cells, encouraging cell turnover. The plant’s ascorbic acid works gently, and is safe enough to use daily, if desired.

    When I do an amla mask, I mix about a tablespoon of powder with hot-warm water (heat helps the acid release faster into your “mud”). Typically, one can wear their mask for 10-15 minutes, but I leave the mud on for about 45 minutes — a time period I stumbled upon by accident when I received an emergency, hand-holding phone call from a girlfriend one day, and didn’t rinse off the mask as quickly as usual. It does turn my face a slight pink from the long exposure to the acid, which didn’t happen at 10 minutes of wear, but I find the results are worth the time and it has never burned my skin, nor made it feel overly sensitive (unlike a few spa-induced glycollic peels in my past that burned and nearly scarred me!)

    Amla can be hard to find, and is sold most often as an herbal cure in caplet form. You’ll want the powder form for facial masks, but beware of boxes in herb stores, they may be several years old & like any plant or spice, potency decreases with time. Like henna, amla is sold as a hair conditioning product, but unlike henna, it doesn’t dye your hair. (And no, I’ve not tried it on my hair because I henna my hair every 4-6 weeks, and that’s enough hair-mud in my world).

    Henna Caravan is a great online supplier, if I’ve peaked your curiousity — one $7 box can last for months. Wicked good & insanely cheap! What’s not to love?

    Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 9:58 am  Comments (1)  
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    Almighty Photon Tender Skin

    ‘Tis the season for self-improvement, and I’m about halfway through my own skin experiment. For Christmas, I ordered a red/blue LED light anti-wrinkle, anti-acne gadget and upon opening my present, I found it came with some amusing directions.

    I really love reading pamphlets written by non-English speakers. You know it’s gonna be a good read when the name they use for the device you’ve just bought is: The Almighty Photon Tender Skin, a.k.a. “The Almighty” by hubby and I. One of my favorite skin conditions you can expect to be rid of, according to the directions, is the mysterious condition they call “blowzy face.”

    I have no idea what blowzy face is, but it’s become my new favorite word. As in, “Here comes Ole Blowzy Face!” or, “Well, am I looking less blowzy yet?”

    I’ve resolved myself to a strict skin care regimen for the next 30 days, with the hopes that the results I’m sure to see in are the kind that I can keep up with.

    • 2 15-minute sessions with the Almighty daily
    • Morning and evening facial scrubs with Pond’s cold cream, using my electric spin brush thingy
    • GNC’s Hair, Nails and Skin vitamins daily
    • L’oreal’s Revitalift skin lotion twice daily
    • 32 ounces of water (cheapest, but hardest for me to stick with)

    I’ve even made a chart to fill in every day with tallies for the items I managed to complete, to help me to stay motivated. I started on Christmas day, and so far I’ve seen smoother skin within a few days, and a brighter complexion within one week. The wrinkles look a wee bit lessened, but it’s too early to tell.

    Down With Blowzy Face! Love thy Almighty!

    Published in: on January 7, 2010 at 8:46 am  Comments (1)  
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    Crest WhiteStrips

    Years ago, as a stage performer, I decided to have my teeth professionally bleached. It was the mid 90s, and my dentist fitted me with plastic insert trays custom made for me, then sent me home with a box of Rembrandt professional strength bleaching gel.

    And bow howdy, I loved the results. I had so many compliments on my teeth, which I unabashedly described as “refrigerator white”. Big confidence booster!

    Then, years passed, and every now and then I’d touch my teeth up with another round of gel purchased from my dentist. But in the past few years, my 5 cup a day tea habit has caught up with my pearly, not-so-whites. And after seeing Liv Tyler’s insanely white teeth on Rachel Zoe a few weeks ago, I keep hearing the nagging voice in my head reminding me that it’s time to touch up the teeth again.

     Until this year, I had never tried Crest’s WhiteStrips but I had seen the commercials, not to mention the knockoffs. Let’s cut to the chase, they work. They work as well as the stuff I bought from the dentist, and they cost less. I bought the Premium box of “professional strength” strips from the local grocery, which cost as much as the regular strength but you get a lot less strips. Doesn’t matter to me though, as I haven’t even finished my ten-day treatment, because I rarely make time to do the treatment twice a day as directed.

    And I can definitely already see the results, in fact I noticed a difference almost immediately. Consider this product highly recommended.

    Published in: on October 9, 2009 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment