The following is a narrative by WIFH Practice Manager Melissa Gastelum as she chronicles her experience with the Perfect Peel.
“I don’t think peels are right for me.” I said this as I stared at my reflection in my bathroom mirror. It was 3:00am. I just woke up because the ice pack I had placed on my face in attempt to alleviate my itching face, had just fallen off. At this point, I had had enough.
Before I chronicle my experience, you should know a few things about me. First of all, I’m extremely impatient. (This characteristic is important later on in my story). Second of all, I know ‘beauty is pain’ but I’m one of those people who forgoes the beauty because I do NOT think it’s worth the pain. I would rather be ugly. So one of the benefits of working for WIFH is we get to partake in all the services. When Cher asked me if I wanted to be this week’s guinea pig, for a new peel we were thinking of bringing in to the office, the Perfect Peel, my first question was ‘Will it hurt?’ and my second was ‘will I peel bad?’ It was Wednesday and I didn’t want to look like a monster over the weekend. I don’t know what came over me, perhaps it was guilt, but I reluctantly accepted. This was my first peel.
The experience started pleasant. Cher, one our medical aestheticians read post peel care to me as I washed off all my makeup. Sitting in the chair as she swabbed me down with alcohol (‘for extra cleansing’), I ran through all the directions in between alternating holding my breath and reiterating post peel instructions. After the pass of alcohol, she began administering the peel solution. Which consisted of several ingredients, one being this new antioxidant coined a “miracle antioxidant”, Gluththione. I felt a slight sting for about 30 seconds and then Cher explained that the solution would self neutralize. When I was done, she instructed me leave on the peel for at least six hours, stay ‘away from the sun’ and forgo exercise for a week. Lovely. So, I was in going to be locked in doors for the next seven days…
I had the peel around 12:45 that day and Cher said I had to leave it on for at least 6 hours. Around 7:00 pm, I decided it had been on long enough. I took a shower, washed my face like normal and used the post peel towelette as instructed. The instructions specifically directed not to use any additional products, so I chucked the used towelette in that trash and went on my merry way. I started to feel my first tinge of discomfort around 8:30 that night. Itchy, all I felt was itchiness. ‘Is this normal?’ ‘Could it have been the solution on the post peel towlettes?’ I was asking my boyfriend who was looking at me with a dumbfounded look. He knows less than I do about these types of things. “Why don’t you wash it off?” he asked innocently. “I don’t want to ruin the results. If I wash it off, I won’t see full results of the peel.” Ugh. If I have to deal with this all night I am going to go insane… famous last words. During a peel, you’re supposed to refrain from touching your face -having an itch you cannot scratch is one of the most frustrating things you will ever experience. I thought maybe I could drink away the discomfort with wine, no luck. After about 45 minutes, I took to the phone.
Me: I hate this peel. My face itches so bad. (8:57 PM) Cher: U will hate all peels then, u have to suffer for the results in medicine… u know that! (9:13PM) Cher: U can use some hydrocortisone cream. That will help. (9:14PM) Me: OK!! Thank you! (9:15PM)
Hydrocortisone cream! Yes! I think I have that! I took to our medicine cabinet. And by medicine cabinet I mean a wicker basket I bought from the Container Store several years ago that now houses several different pharmaceutical products and resides in the linen closet in the guest bathroom. I began rummaging through the basket; hydrocortisone, hydrocortisone… I saw, Neosporin, Advil, Band-aids, Gas-X… NO HYDROCORTISONE!
“Chase! Where is your First – aid kit?!” There have been several times throughout our 2.5 year relationship where I have been very grateful that Chase is an Eagle Scout. Always be prepared. That was their motto. He HAD to have hydrocortisone cream. Sure enough, it was there! Yes! I began to twist off the cap. It wouldn’t budge. Wtf? I turned it over in my hand, ‘you have to be kidding me’. There in plain English EXP: Mar 2006. Are you kidding me? I have never been so unreasonably mad at him. Who keeps hydrocortisone cream for 7 years!? He doesn’t know this but I took away an nonexistent “always be prepared” patch from him that night.
It was 9:34 and I decided to go to bed. Hopefully falling asleep will get rid of this hell. I typically fall asleep within seconds of lying down but after 3 minutes (told you, impatient) I decided to grab an ice pack and bury my face in it. I woke up around 3:00 am because the ice pack fell off. Still itchy. I was so livid I rushed to the bathroom to wash off the solution. I don’t care if I ruin the results, it’s not worth it! I immediately applied some moisturizer to my face. Ahhhhh. Relief. I went to bed.
I woke up Thursday morning in a pretty foul mood. Lack of sleep will do that to a girl. Today was the first day I was allowed to use moisturizer (aside from the illegal use of moisturizer last night).
My skin texture felt a little rough but I applied moisturizer and then my foundation.
I set off for work. By the time I got in, I was showing my first signs of peeling! Hallelujah! One day closer to this being done.
The first thing I did when I got in to the office was find the hydrocortisone cream. I put some in a ramekin and then some more for good measure.
That night, after washing my face and using the last post peel towlette, I slathered hydrocortisone cream all over my face and neck. No itching. I had never been so relieved in all my life.
More signs of peeling but no discomfort. Against Cher’s wishes, I decided to exercise. I’m a runner and I prefer to run outdoors so I slathered on the SPF 55 and headed out the door.
One more thing I would have liked to know if advance, sunscreen stings fresh skin. I learned that the hard way. I had to cut my run short I was in so much pain. As I am walking in to my building, I’m noticing several passerby’s staring at me… ‘geez ass, what are YOU looking AT?’
Turns out it was my face.
Well that’s embarrassing.
Here is what my face looked like pre-run.
♫ Peelings, nothing more, than peelings ♪ Today, I looked like a lizard. And not a cute one. One of these:
It was coming off in defined “sheets” of skin on day four. This is where my impatience comes in to play. I love to peel skin! It sounds gross but it’s one of those weird quirks I have.
Remember in art class when you would smear Elmer’s glue all over your hand, wait for it to dry and then peel it off and have a perfect glue replica of your palm? Not me. I could never wait for the glue to dry. I could see little pieces of skin out of the corner of my eye all day… I trimmed them with a pair of small scissors so I wouldn’t scare our patients.
One good thing about this peel is that all the peeling is mostly manageable. Simply applying moisturizer to the peeling areas of your face kept it in check.
Since I had to work Saturday, I used Sunday as my day for running errands. All day I felt as though people were staring at me a little longer than socially acceptable. “Am I peeling bad?” I asked Chase for the umpteenth time that day, “Yeah, but you look ok.” He always knows the right thing to say…
Over the course of my peel days, while checking out at the grocery store or Costco or while I was at a friend’s house for a get together, I always found it necessary – if I thought someone was staring at my face too long – to make them aware I had a peel. “Oh this”, I said pointing at my face; I just had a chemical peel. Most of the time, they had no idea what I was implying because they hadn’t even been staring at my face. Damn. I need to work on my self esteem.
It’s funny how you don’t see more people on a daily basis with peeling skin. In 2012, Chemical peels ranked third on the top five minimally-invasive procedures having over 1.1 million procedures performed. That is up 4% from the previous year. So, why don’t we see more women with lizard skin at Target? My theory is no one goes out for seven days.
Today my skin looked back to normal! Fresh, tight and normal! There was noticeable diminished appearance of my naseo-labial lines (the “parentheses” around the mouth).
Today, I am back to normal! Not 100%, because there is still slight peeling around my hairline and my neck is beginning its peel but I’ll take this any day.
Do I notice a difference? Yes! Some of the superficial lines around my mouth have definitely diminished. My skin feels firmer, looks lighter and brighter and much more healthy. I don’t think there has been any reduction in poor size but from what I understand, this peel is best done in a series, and can be done every 3-6 months.
For those of you thinking about having the Perfect Peel done, here are my words of advice. Now, take this with a grain of salt because as I mentioned above, this was the first peel I have ever had:
- Add this to your grocery list that week: Cortisone cream. Lots of cortisone cream.
- Have ice packs on hand. Just in case.
- Don’t make big plans. I wouldn’t recommend having this peel done within a week of an important event. No, high school reunions, big match.com dates and absolutely NO weddings. You may think no one will notice, but they will.
- Give up on working out for seven days. All that sweating mixed in with peeling skin is not cute. On any one. And if you exercise outdoors BEWARE of my sunscreen mistake. See: Day Three.
So after reading this post, you may be wondering if I regret having the Perfect Peel done? Definitely not.
How do I look post Perfect Peel?
You be the judge.