To Peel or Not to Peel?


August 12, 2016 | BY Hayden Ng

If you’ve always been wary of products and treatments that feature peeling properties, help is here. We get experts to explain the things to know about professional and home peels.

When it comes to facials and beauty products, peels—even though they’re often described as glow-givers—still send shivers down some spines. Too much of it may cause redness, sensitive skin and of course, excessive peeling. We ask the pros to learn more about professional and home peels.


Photo: Face, Body & Skin Aesthetics Medical Centre.

Chiam Chiak Teng, aesthetics doctor at Face, Body & Skin Aesthetics Medical Centre

What he says:

Professional and home peels are different
“Many of their ingredients are similar and they include glycolic, salicylic, mandelic and lactic acids. But the biggest difference between lies in the concentration. Home peels tend to be much lower in concentration due to safety concerns. They’re designed to be more suitable for individual use.
However, this also means that the depth of the peel is a lot more superficial in a home peel, and is probably not effective for conditions such as wrinkles or acne scars that require a deeper depth of penetration from the peel.”

Peels aren’t suitable for those who stay outdoors for long hours
“I wouldn’t recommend a chemical peel for patients who are unable to protect themselves adequately from sun exposure before and after the treatment. They’re at risk of developing hyperpigmentation after chemical peels.”

Post peel, you may experience redness
“The downtime for superficial peels is usually minimal. You should expect mild redness and swelling for the first couple of days, followed by some dryness and flaking of the skin from day three to about a week after the chemical peel.”


Photo: Courtesy of Kiehl’s.

Adam Geyer, consulting dermatologist at Kiehl’s

What he says:

At-home peels save time
“Unlike in-office treatments, you don’t need to undergo preparation and precautions before using at-home peels. This means that at-home treatments are less expensive and less time consuming.”

They benefit all skin types
“At-home peels can be suitable for many skin types depending on their formulas. Those with sensitive skin and rosacea can still benefit from exfoliation and superficial peeling to improve skin clarity, brightness, and texture. However, the peeling product has to be chosen carefully.  I tend to use the milder malic acid peels for those with rosacea as they tend to create less irritation but still provide a robust effect.”


Photo: Winston Lee/Instagram.

Winston Lee, medical director of South Bridge Aesthetics

What he says:

Professional peels are great for...
“Virtually all skin types and used to treat a wide range of skin issues. I would recommend it for those with pigmentation, uneven skin tone, oily skin, wrinkles, acne scars and acne prone skin.”

For best results, combine chemical peels with other treatments and products
“Chemical peels can be combined with many skin treatments. For example, light doses of fractional laser can be used to stimulate collagen remodelling and improve the reduction of lines. Hydrafacial or other medi-facials augment the effects of dead skin removal to achieve radiance and also allow better penetration of serums.”


Photo: The Clifford Clinic.

Gerard Ee, aesthetic doctor of The Clifford Clinic

What he says: 

Peels are glow givers
“After a peel, the new skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled. It also tends to be more radiant and receptive to skincare because there are less damaged and dead skin cells to obstruct penetration.”

Avoid acids and scrubs after peels
“Retinoids, differin, glycolic acids, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), beta hydroxy acid (BHA) in some facial washes, scrubs and other beauty products may cause excessive redness and irritation. When in doubt, be gentle and protect the skin.”

Remember your sunscreen
“After a peel, the skin tends to be more sensitive so it’s important to protect it. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 to protect against sun damage and pigmentation. Some patients may also find products such as aloe vera gel soothing for the skin.”


Photo: Sainte Chapelle Clinic.

Aaron Pang, director of Sainte Chapelle Clinic

What he says:

Steer clear of peels if...
“You have skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, as well as active skin infections, or undergone recent laser treatment and suntan.”

Peels boast a truckload of benefits
“Superficial chemical peels have been shown to improve pigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and colour, reduce skin oiliness, blackheads, whiteheads and blemishes.”

There are three types of professional peels
“Firstly, superficial peels primarily target the very top layers of the skin epidermis. They are most commonly composed of glycolic or salicylic acids in various concentrations. Medium depth peels are most commonly made up of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) at varying concentrations, usually 20 to 35 per cent. They target the deeper layer of the epidermis and the superficial dermis of the skin. They can result in an impressive improvement in skin texture with a reduction in pigmentation, freckling and some pre-skin cancers known as actinic keratosis. Lastly, deep peels are typically made up of an ingredient known as phenol. It produces injury within the deeper layers of the skin or the dermis. They can treat moderate to severe photo-aging and wrinkles. While deep peels can potentially offer the greatest level of improvement, they also require long recovery times and carry the greatest risk of complication such as scarring and hyperpigmentation.”

Now try these...


Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
Kiehl’s has turned to superfood quinoa for its anti-ageing benefits. Alongside fruit acids, cactus extract and phytic acid, this overnight treatment contains quinoa husk extract—a first in skincare—and promises to iron out rough skin, regenerate cells and even out skin tone.

Available at Kiehl’s stores.

Now try these...


For Beloved One Mandelic Acid Advanced Renewal Serum
Containing 20 per cent high purity mandelic acid—an extraction from bitter apricot—this renewing serum jumpstarts your skin cell turnover rate by first sweeping away whiteheads. Its two other patented ingredients, betapur and syricalm CLR, then control sebum production and soothe irritation.

Available at Sephora.

Now try these...


First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Intensive Peel
This clay mask combines the benefits of deep cleansing kaolin with retexturising lactic acid, salicylic acid and mucor miehei extract. The results: a smoother, brighter and cleaner mien in just under 10 minutes.

Available from end September at Sephora.


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