Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Let's talk about at home chemical peels...

Well... as usual, my timing is impeccable.
A few weeks ago I bought some 50% glycolic acid peel serum online. I used to get peels all the time from my dermatologist and have always reacted very well to them. I read the instructions and decided to dilute my peel to about 35% since I hadn't done one in a bit. You're supposed to wash it off 2 minutes after it starts tingling (ahem: burning...), but the instructions said you could leave it on longer if you've had them before. I left mine on for 8-10 minutes because my elephant skin is tough.
It went well and my skin never really even peeled or flaked. The instructions said that if you don't peel then you can apply another layer 1 week later. So last night I applied another layer. Full strength. Ten minutes.
To be honest, it burned like *crazy* but it wasn't unbearable. I routinely put a mask of cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice on my face that brings me to tears and forces me to sit in front of a fan while it dries. This was nothing compared to that.
So I wasn't worried.
And then I looked in the mirror. Panic. Terror. Screams. My skin had gone well beyond "frosting" (which didn't happen the prior time) and was already blistered. Ah! I washed it off and instantly delved into the online world for answers. Someone said something about neutralizing the acid with baking soda. Done. Covered. Better yet? No. Ok, next.
This went on for several hours and ended with me being resigned to the fact that I had moved from "light" to "deep" peel accidentally. And now I must suffer the consequences. Apparently those include my skin "crusting", turning brown and then peeling off. Have I mentioned that we're leaving for Europe in two days? No? Oh, good. We are. Clearly all of those well-planned outfits were a waste of time, no one will even notice them since EVERY SINGLE PERSON WILL BE GAWKING AT MY HORROR-FACE! And no makeup allowed, PS. I just have to suffer through this rather painful and embarrassing mistake.
Currently, the blisters have mostly popped (disgusting) and there's a nice yellow crust where they were (so attractive). My skin is extremely red + blotchy (thank God I'm already married) and I'm not sure what tomorrow holds. I'm really hoping my skin moves through this insanely fast. Brown crust tomorrow, peeling Thursday and by the time our train arrives in Wroclaw, back to normal!
Chemical peels are really effective for treating age spots and scars. As for me, I have scars on my face that I was trying to eradicate. I usually wear makeup and it generally covers up them up so-so. I'd love to have them completely erased. That was the goal. I haven't given up, either. I hear that the deeper the peel, the more drastic the results. Believe it or not, I plan to try again in a month (lots of time and space from this disaster). So to answer my husband's question of, "... *now* are we done putting chemicals on our face??" ... nope! Just going to be smarter about it next time.
Want to learn from me?
A) Prep. My friend, Amber, just reminded me of this! Consider what products you use, anything drying or peeling (Retin A, salicylic acid, basically anything anti-wrinkle or anti-acne, etc.) should be stopped for about 1 week to 10 days before hand.
B) Dilute. Dilute. Dilute. No matter what, when switching brands or trying a peel at home for the first time, dilute it. I wouldn't have had this problem if I hadn't moved from 35% to 50% so quickly.
C) Quick. Keep it quick, people. Start with a very short amount of time and then evaluate from there. The recommended time on my product was 2 minutes, not 10.
D) Watch. I should have been watching my skin in the mirror instead of playing online. If I had been, I would have noticed that this peel was much too strong before it got this serious. At the first sign of blistering, frosting or even that extreme redness, I would have washed it off. Instead I'm doomed to move through this rather embarrassing experience. I can see myself at the airport already... 'Why, yes, Mr. TSA agent, that *is* me in the passport..."
Aftercare is the biggest part of a peel (kind of like a tattoo...) so I'll be sure to update with a post about that. What do you think? Would you ever do an at-home peel? Do you think I'm totally insane?
If you're a praying person, go ahead and say a little one for my skin today. Silly? Maybe. But I haven't seen most of my EU friends/family in 3 years... and I'd love for them to recognize me.
All the best! I'll be sure to update before we leave, but there may not be time for a DIY. Have an awesome day- thanks for reading!


  1. Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry! Said a little prayer for you, hoping you heal up really quickly.

  2. Definitely saying a little prayer for your mishap. But hey, at least you're still going to Europe! Have a fabulous time!

  3. i was so upset when i read your post on my email that i replied but then unsubscribed, so i'm not sure my comment had time to register. please don't encourage your readers to practice medicine by making light of this very serious medical problem. my last two husbands suffered with multiple skin cancers of the face and neck from basal cells to melanomas. they each had multiple mohs techniques on ears, neck, eyelids and lips. you are suffering from third degree burns on your face which could result in additional scarring. please see a physician immediately.

    1. June, I'm sorry to hear that. My approach to life is to "make the best of things" and I often use this blog as part of that. To hear that you unsubscribed over it is very shocking. We will miss you, I'm sure.
      That being said, I'm not making light of anything. I have an extremely medical family (multiple doctors) and can assure you that I do no have third degree burns on my face. Also, as someone who has been treated since the age of twelve for what your husband went through, I can also assure you that I'm not making light of skin cancer? I actually didn't reference skin cancer at all.
      At home chemical peels are very common, this post was more about "would you do it?" as the end states rather than an encouragement for people to do the same. Also, I hope to benefit the women who will read this before or after having a chemical peel. I know that the first thing I did was look for other bloggers to see what they did to help. Thanks for having been a reader, I wish you the best and hope your husband never has another cancer scare.

  4. Oh no! Praying that you heal quickly and that you and hubby have a blast in Europe.. How exciting! Also, coming from a medical background I also have to say that those were not third degree burns. (third degree burns often result in muscle and nerve damage.. thus you not being able to feel anything) 2nd degree burns are what the majority of people experience with any kind of household or common burn (hense the bubbles of grossness) These are unfortunately the most painful kinds of burns, ouch! I agree 100% with what you said in your blog. You have a lot of experience and knowledge with your skin and had obviously done your homework. Sometimes the body just reacts differently.. This actually happened to me at a professional salon and the professionals said the same thing. As with all things in life.. live and learn! Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate you sharing the successful and not so successful stories of the DIY life ;)

    1. Thanks, Claire! Your feedback is super appreciated, and it's comforting to hear that it happened to you as well. We're all in this together, right? <3 <3 <3

  5. How’s your skin now, Auna? It’s a good thing that you’ve used that solution before. Meaning to say, you’ve proven it safe to use. However, despite that, I would encourage you to continue to be careful with using it. Because even though you can perform the treatment in the comfort of your own home, peeling solutions are still a mixture of chemicals that should be handled carefully. I hope you’ll heal quickly. ;]

    1. Thankfully, it is back to 100% normal- but I agree! Phew. Dodged a bullet. If you're curious, you can check out the progress to healing (pictures) and final thoughts here: http://www.laviediy.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-great-chemical-burn-of-2012-hate.html

  6. What 50% glycolic acid peel serum did you use?

  7. What glycolic acid peel serum did you buy? I am looking at some now and unsure which ones to get.


    1. Hey lady! I ordered it off of eBay a few years ago. I can't remember the brand, but it was pretty cheap and really strong. I don't think I would do it again, it was a terrifying sight to behold!


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