Chemical peels get a bad rap – particularly if you’ve seen that scene of Samantha from Sex and The City with a second degree burn on her face at an important work gala. But chemical peels can be a Godsend for many of us with skin issues such as uneven skin texture, blemishes, uneven skin tone, and fine lines/wrinkles. I’m not someone new to chemical peels. I’ve gotten several different types of peels since 2007 to battle post-acne scars – mostly TCA peels (a stronger version) – but I recently went to Midtown Med Spa in Houston to try a Vi Peel. The Vi Peel is a combination of TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid), Vitamin C, Tretinoic Acid (a form of Vitamin A) and other skin-renewing ingredients that is extremely potent but also extremely gentle. It’s one of the only peels safe to use on the eyelids. Ready to read about the process and my results?
The first time I visited Midtown Med Spa, I got a custom spa facial and the aesthetician and I discussed what treatments would be the most impactful for my skin (oily, acne-prone, dehydrated; desiring some anti-aging help). She recommended the Vi Peel and the PRP (vampire) Facial. Initially, we were going to do the PRP Facial next but realized to maximize the benefits of the PRP, it’d be best to start with fresh skin post-Vi Peel.
This post is second in a two-part series I’m doing with Midtown Med Spa.
I showed up for my peel at Midtown Med Spa with minimal makeup on – mineral powder, mascara, tinted gloss. My aesthetician escorted me to my treatment room and I changed into my strapless robe.
The entire Vi Peel process (and others I’ve tried) doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. After cleansing the skin of any makeup, the next step is to prep the skin for the peel solution using a liquid on a cotton pad. This product smells exactly like nail polish remover/acetone (in fact, don’t quote me on this but I’m 98% sure it IS a form of acetone – warning: DON’T USE ACETONE ON YOUR FACE AT HOME). Peels tend to perform best on skin completely devoid of oils.
Once skin is prepped, the peel is a little cotton wipe soaked in a yellow/orange liquid solution. It is gently applied to the skin and feels very mildly tingly. The aesthetician will watch the skin to ensure the peel is working, but not irritating. After a few minutes, a second layer of the solution is applied – particularly to areas in which the peel can do the most work (areas of acne scars, fine lines, texture).
Occasionally, the skin will ‘frost.’ What this means, is the skin turns slightly white. It usually fades very quickly but sometimes, the aesthetician will neutralize the peel in that area. Frosting is not a bad thing… it usually happens on areas of the skin that are more inflamed – think a recent breakout spot. These frosted areas may peel slightly deeper or more quickly than other areas because the skin is ready to be “new.”
After a few more minutes of that second layer, the aesthetician will apply a light layer of sunscreen and lip balm and send you on your way looking mildly tanned/orange. You’ll want to go home because it will deepen in color as the hours go by.
The Vi Peel is different from all the other peels I’ve tried because of the unique post peel instructions. My aesthetician gave me a Vi Peel gentle anti-oxidant face wash, Vi Peel SPF50 sunscreen, Vi Peel Protectant (hydrocortisone cream) and most importantly, three Vi Peel post-peel soaked towelettes. These towelettes contain additional Vitamin C and Tretinoic Acid to boost the effects of the treatment and help encourage effective peeling.
I was told to leave the peel solution on my skin for a minimum of four hours. After four hours, I could wash with the face wash and use the first Vi Peel towelette all over the areas she applied the peel. No moisturizer.
An hour before bed, I was to wash my face again and apply the second Vi Peel towelette all over the areas the peel was applied. Again, no moisturizer and go to sleep.
The next day, I washed my face and applied my SPF. My skin was extremely tight and shiny but not orange anymore. I was able to apply a light layer of makeup and looked “OK.” That evening, I washed my face with the cleanser again and used the last Vi Peel towelette. No moisturizer and went to bed.
The next day was Saturday and I was antsy to get out of the house even though I could start to see the skin on my chin and around my mouth start to slightly flake. I washed my face with the cleanser and used the SPF. I applied a tinted moisturizer and no powder and was ballsy enough to go to the movies on Super Bowl Weekend in Houston (AKA Everyone And Their Mother Was In This City). By dinnertime, I wanted to go to the movies. That should be harmless right? No one will see me since I was starting to look like a leper. Here’s what I looked like after the movies:
I know, I know. Kinda scary. But this is very typical for the types of medium-level chemical peels I’ve had in the past, as well. It does not hurt at all… it’s just awkward to leave the house, haha. All day Sunday I stayed home and applied a lot of the Peel Protectant and by Monday (day 4) when I washed my face, 75% of the flakes came off on their own.
***IT IS VERY IMPORTANT YOU DO NOT PEEL THE SKIN OFF FROM YOUR PEEL. IT’S TEMPTING BUT RESIST. I PROMISE WHEN THE SKIN IS READY AND YOU WASH YOUR FACE, SO MUCH OF IT WILL COME OFF ON ITS OWN. YOU DO NOT WANT TO DAMAGE THE EXPENSIVE NEW SKIN YOU PAID FOR THAT’S SOFT AND GLOWING UNDERNEATH.***
By day 7 (Thursday), I was completely back to normal and resumed my regular skin care routine with a smoother, brighter complexion. My acne scars are not 100% eradicated – that would probably take 3-6 Vi Peels – but they certainly have been reduced 10-20%.
A Vi Peel costs an average of $275. This is one of the more pricier peels I’ve tried (TCA ones tend to be around $150ish), but it definitely had better results and I attribute it to the combination of chemicals and especially to those key post-peel pads.
While I was getting my peel at Midtown Med Spa, of course, I chat. I wanted to know what SkinCeuticals products would be most helpful to keep my skin healthy and soft after the peel. My aesthetician recommended the Hydrating B5 Masque especially because my skin is so dehydrated. Dehydrated skin can appear dull, needing bounce and can soak up moisturizer yet still appear oily. Dehydrated skin doesn’t need more OIL – it needs more WATER. B5 helps bind water to the skin, thus giving a more plumped look and over time, keeps water IN the skin.
I didn’t want to think only of myself, so my dry readers may want to try SkinCeuticals Emollience moisturizer. This is a rich, creamy moisturizer that has grapeseed and rosehip seed oils which are amazing hydrators and antioxidants (great for antiaging). This moisturizer seems to be a cult favorite from several reviews I found online!
I asked what other SkinCeuticals products she often recommends to oily types. She recommended the LHA Solution/toner for my fellow oily/acne prone friends to use after cleansing but before moisturizer. LHA is a mix of very low BHA and AHA chemical exfoliants which will prevent bacteria from making a home on your face. It will keep your pores clear and your skin bright.
I am very happy with my Vi Peel experience. I would definitely do it again and would recommend it to those looking to refine uneven skin tone or texture, reduce acne scarring or reduce fine lines/wrinkles. If you’re in the Houston area, check ou Midtown Med Spa for your Vi Peel.