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My Salicylic Acid Peel Experience

Updated on October 19, 2011

The Peel

I decided to get a chemical peel to help clear my skin up for my wedding, and I'm not sure if I would do it again if I could have a do-over. I went in with 2 solid weeks to go before the wedding date. My aesthetician assured me that everything would be done peeling in time, so I took the plunge. My fragile pre-wedding nerves did not appreciate it.

First, she used cleanser on my face to get the makeup off. Next, it was time for the acetone, which gets the oils off and preps the skin for the acid. She painted the first layer of salicylic acid on with a fan brush; it stung, but nothing I couldn't handle. Then, she put a second layer over my "problem areas" (nose and chin). Oh my goodness, my face was on fire.

How do people do this on a regular basis? I can't even imagine the burn of a deeper peel. After 30 seconds all I wanted was for it to be OFF. She wiped it off with a cool towel after I begged for my freedom. That didn't completely stop the burning, but it helped. She put some heavy moisturizers on my face, and sent me on my way with instruction to use a gentle face wash and stay out of the sun.

Days 1-5

Day 1- My face was inflamed and angry with a few places that looked like dark splotches. Some spots looked like exactly what they were: chemical burns. I used a hydrating cream face wash even though my skin is oily.

Day 2- My skin was still red in multiple places and angry. A thin layer of dry skin had formed over my entire face, with the edges of my nose and my chin being the most dry, burned places. My face felt tight when I moved it, and places around my mouth cracked open when I opened too wide. At this point, my fear that I would not be ready for the wedding in time kicked in. I couldn't look in the mirror without cringing. I felt like a burn victim. I spent a whole night looking up after effects of chemical peels and became convinced I would be scarred up in the places that got it the worst. I won't lie; I sobbed for an hour, because I thought I would be a total wreck on the wedding day. I take good care of my skin, but I'm not a total wack-job over it...unless its right before my wedding. Then its serious business.

Day 3- I began applying Emu oil to the places that were scaly and cracking. I was putting this on 10 times a day, because it has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It seemed to take the redness down a notch and sooth the tight feeling. I still felt like I had a mask on all the time no matter how much moisturizer I put on. I was still terrified that some places would scar.

Day 4- I finally began to peel in earnest. I had been helping it along some before it was ready; pulling at loose skin and such. I can't help it. I'm a picker. All that did was get me raw stinging skin that would inevitably peel again since I pulled it off too soon. I decided to go for an exfoliating face wash now that my skin seemed ready to molt. It stung a bit, but definitely helped the process. I also used an enzyme mask to help eat away the dead layer. Still using Emu oil which is doing wonders for the redness.

Day 5- Here we are back in the present. My skin is still shedding, and I have a few red spots of angry, healing skin. I'm trying so hard not to pick at the pieces hanging off my nose, but its so hard not to when they're in my peripheral vision. I can see them, and it bothers me! Still using a glycolic acid face wash and a good moisturizer, but no more Emu oil. I'm afraid it will clog my pores if I slather it on too much. The burned patches are much smaller and a lot less red now.

I have over a week until my wedding, so we shall see if I clear all the way up by then. I'm still doubtful.

My Final Conclusion

Although my face is not done with the peeling phase, I still don't think I'm ever going to do a peel again unless it is a much weaker one. It honestly freaked me out a little. I don't recommend getting one without at least a week or 2 for downtime. I didn't want to leave the house for the first 3 days, and I obsessed over my skin. It may have been partly wedding anxiety, but I think it would still be too uncomfortable to go through again. I do have less blackheads though. That's a plus.


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    • profile image

      Robert 3 years ago

      Do not do peels if you cannot resist the urge to "pick." Picking at peeling skin is a formula for disaster (i.e. scars).

    • profile image

      Bridgettweeter 4 years ago

      I have been using a 2% for YEARS. It keep my skin clear, glowing and smooth. It is a peel and there are times when my skin peels a great deal. It doesn't freak me out. With in DAYS I am amazed at how great my skin looks.

    • profile image

      Dean 5 years ago

      This was probably the worst pain I have ever felt... but did it clear my spots... yes.. I have had 4 and since not had any problems now for 4 months. I am just starting to get spots again here and there so will be booking in again soon for a top up.. YOU NEED TO MAN UP!!

    • profile image

      Sarah 5 years ago

      Ladies, a salicylic acid peel is the most gentle of them all due to it's anti-inflammatory effects.

      And for those who get 'freaked out' by peeling...Why do you think it is called a peel for crying out loud? It PEELS your skin! It takes 15 days for your skin to go back to normal for a strong peel, maybe less for a mild one.

      I've been doing peels of 30% salicylic acid for three years now, I do mine every 6 weeks due to having to keep my skin clear as I am prone to adult acne. When I first began peeling it obliterated my acne after 3 peels, within weeks my acne was halved and scars faded dramatically. I was all clear after the 6th peel, and later on my skin was smoother, freckle free and even-toned.

      Please know that it usually takes 6 weeks for the new skin to be completely revealed, so please be patient with the peeling..and do not go exfoliating within 2 weeks afterwards as this can cause scarring and only irritates your raw newly peeled skin.

      Educate yourself on the peeling process BEFORE you have one, if you can't handle peeling for several days afterwards, then don't get one.

      It is not for everyone, but it worked wonders for my skin

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      5 years ago

      My doctor recommended a salicylic peel. After the peel, she told me to ONLY use gentle face wash twice a day and to apply Aquafor at night as a moisturizer for about a week (or longer, depending on your skin). During the day, use a moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. This really helped my skin heal fast. If you have dry patches, then she recommends patting a tiny dab of Aquafor or your regular moisturizer on it or during the day as well. She says you can put makeup on but be sure not to use any other products such as toners, acne creams, scrubs, etc. on your face for a week after the peel.

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      Sam 5 years ago

      Oh my goodness! I'm in the middle of my salicylic acid burn and I feel EXACTLY how you feel. My skin is at where yours was at day 4 and I have NO hope!

    • Rozenwyn profile image

      Rozenwyn 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Most likely it won't scar. Just don't pick at it. I am horrible about leaving my face alone. If you peel it before its ready, it will just peel again and maybe become hyperpigmented. Just keep putting a gentle moisturizer on as often as you need it and let it do its thing. I promise you'll get through it.

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      Patty 5 years ago

      I just did the peel and I feel exactly as yours. I am on day 2 now. What if my face will not peel and the burn area turned permanent scares? I am sooooo upset. I will sue them

    • Beatrice xxx profile image

      Beatrice xxx 5 years ago from Co. Cork, Ireland

      I might try it actually :)

    • Rozenwyn profile image

      Rozenwyn 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Beatrice, don't let my bad experience dissuade you. If you think you can handle it, then go for it. If you don't want the intense peeling, maybe try a lower level peel. I had a pumpkin one that was great and smelled divine.

    • Beatrice xxx profile image

      Beatrice xxx 5 years ago from Co. Cork, Ireland

      I was thinking of doing it, but now I'm not sure.