Say the words ‘chemical peel’ to any modern woman, and she might shudder, recalling the image of Samantha from Sex in the City arriving at a glam NY party looking like Freddie Kreuger’s long-lost sister. “I couldn’t,” you’ll hear them say. “I haven’t got a week to take off work while my face crusts up and falls off”. Such is the legacy of old-fashioned chemical peels - it’s only for the brave, and only if you don’t mind looking terrifying for a while. I’ll admit, I’ve been in this (misinformed) camp for a long time. Despite working for Vivo Hair & Beauty and having 18 Skin Clinics nationwide, becoming what I assumed would resemble a disfigured lobster for a week held little appeal.
Not long after, I attended a Vivo Skin Clinic conference to do a write-up, and my thinking around chemical peels transformed as I was exposed to the clinical formulations and techniques used in modern day peels by our Vivo Skin Therapists. “We want to take away the fear of peels, because we can get amazing results from them, without the downtime.” says Siobhan Chant, National Training Manager at Vivo Skin Clinic. Then why keep calling them peels and frightening everybody off? I enquire. Paige, SkinTherapist at Vivo Dixon St (Wellington), chimes in. “Everybody has a layer of dead skin cells - what we can achieve in removing it simply can’t be done at your home care level of exfoliation. Our Vivo Beauty Therapists understand the structure and function of the skin.”
After 4 hours of a pretty intensive, informative and amazing conference, I leave the conference feeling excited. “There’s hope!” I think, as I head to my car and do one thing: call the closest Vivo and book my first chemical peel, with Skin Therapist Stevie Doyle at Vivo Skin Clinic Remuera. A few days later, when I arrive for my appointment, she greets me with clipboard in hand, excited to take control of my skin. “Will it hurt?”, I ask, gripping the sides of the bed in her beauty room. Stevie calmly talks me through the process, thoroughly assessing my skin as she guides me through the comprehensive Vivo 7-Step Skin Analysis. “Right, we are ready!” she says, having prepared me for a CosMedix Pomegranate Peel. The Pomegranate Peel has 15% strength lactic acid - safe even for newbies like myself.
Stevie starts to massage the peel into my skin, and almost immediately there’s a prickling sensation across my forehead and a flushing on my cheeks. “Um, is it supposed to feel like this?” I ask nervously. But Stevie reassures me that it’s a completely normal reaction and sure enough, my skin relaxes after a few short minutes. “Everyone’s skin responds differently,” she says. “But the worst you should expect is some light, mostly unnoticeable flaking in a few days.” Stevie informs me that a chemical peel works by either disengaging the bonds that join skin cells together, which is the flaking process, or by stimulating collagen production in the skin cell, meaning younger and fresher looking skin.
“Everyone’s skin responds differently. But the worst you should expect is some light, mostly unnoticeable flaking in a few days.”
Just a 30 minute lunch-break process later, and I’m done. I expect to see a ruddy complexion staring back at me when I check the mirror, but instead, I’m absolutely glowing in a way that no highlighter could ever achieve. My skin feels smooth, fresh and young again. When I pop my makeup on an hour later in preparation for a meeting, I’m amazed by the dewy appearance that comes through even beneath my foundation. Samantha Jones, times have changed - chemical peels are for everyone after all.