“Welcome acne!” said no one ever. Alas, that was my destiny one Saturday morning: three nasty pimples making themselves right at home, each with their own impressive profile. And ouch, they were painful! This had been going on for a while now. Every few days a new pimple (or four!) would pop up on my face. “That’s it,” I thought. “It’s time for some professional help.”
Thankfully, I had the time and resources to bid these unwelcome friends goodbye. I called Nordstrom Beauty Haven in New York City and booked an appointment. The beauty consultants assured me Desiree Delia, a medical esthetician from Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, could help. Dr. Gross’s infamous chemical peel would expedite the healing of my pimples and even help to prevent the same pores from becoming infected over and over again.
Feeling hopeful, I entered Nordstrom off Broadway Avenue and made my way up the exclusive staircase to Beauty Haven. The spa treatment waiting area was revealed behind a large, thick green curtain (the privacy was a pleasant surprise given how defeated I had been feeling). I didn’t have to wait long before Desiree came out to greet me. She brought me back to a private treatment room that overlooked the same busy avenue I entered in from. What a view!
After settling in, I was relieved that Desiree was happy to answer all my questions about the chemical peel.
“Was I going to be red afterwards?” No.
“Would it hurt?” Absolutely not!
“Any downtime?” On the contrary, I would be red carpet ready! JK! JK! I wasn’t invited to any red carpet, but you get the point.
Desiree assured me that with a professional chemical peel, LED light therapy, and some soothing active ingredients, she could transform my mountains into molehills. Her confidence put me at ease, and I felt my muscles relax as Desiree started working her magic.
About the service offerings
The professional peel treatment I received was personally formulated by Dr. Dennis Gross himself. Dr. Gross uses multiple acids at lower concentrations to simultaneously target different skin issues. His formulations do not irritate the skin or cause downtime. Desiree stressed, “one common mistake is to get a chemical peel with only one acid, at a high percentage or concentration. This can be too much for the skin to handle and can compromise the skin’s ability to protect itself.” There are three strengths: Original, Extra Strength, and Clinical Strength.
Taking into consideration my rosacea, dry skin type, and active breakouts, Desiree determined the Original Alpha Beta Peel was the right fit for me. “A chemical peel must be two steps, regardless of if you are seeing a professional or trying it at home,” Desiree emphasized. The first step contains acids that work to break the bonds between dead skin cells while dissolving sebum and oil build-up in pores. The second step neutralizes the acids, delivers active ingredients, and gently removes dead, dull-looking skin cells to reveal a stronger, younger-looking complexion.
Peel + LED is a wonderful combo
Before my peel, Desiree started with LED light therapy using Dr. Gross’s DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro. “The blue light will kill acne-causing bacteria and the red light will help to bring down the inflammation triggered by the breakouts and stimulate cell turnover to expedite the healing time.” Not going to lie, I was pretty excited to try the device I had been seeing all over Instagram. The treatment was quick and easy – 3 minutes of LED light therapy and that was all my skin needed. I didn’t feel a thing!
Now, the chemical peel. After applying the first step (which was left on for only a few minutes), Desiree made sure I felt comfortable. For the record, I didn’t feel much more than a tingle. She taught me that the sloughing away of dead skin cells is also removing a physical barrier of entry for my topical products. Everything Desiree applied on after the chemical peel was going to penetrate deeper and work more effectively for my skin. Win-win!
Next up – the second step aka the acid neutralizer. The neutralizing step “shuts off” the acids and delivers soothing and healing active ingredients. All tingles disappeared as soon as Desiree applied the neutralizer.
Together, the exfoliating acids help to curtail the life of my pimples by increasing cell turnover and unclogging build-up in my pores. The neutralizer then supplied soothing, repairing actives to expedite the healing process and prevent a future breakout.
Desiree concluded the treatment with a moisturizer loaded with repairing and soothing ingredients like ceramides and amino acids. Her gentle massage improved blood circulation, which in turn increased the supply of oxygen and nutrients to my skin cells. Finally, she applied a lightweight sunscreen to protect my new youthful-looking complexion from environmental aggressors.
The root of the problem
During my appointment with Desiree, she told me I was experiencing breakouts frequently (and in the same places) because I had a compromised moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is the skin’s own natural moisturizing system. Think of it like a shield – our first line of defense when it comes to pathogens – and our last line of defense to lock in hydration. The moisture barrier is a part of the epidermis – it is actually the very top layer of skin that you can see in the mirror. When this layer is compromised, small invisible cracks form.
Unfortunately, the natural aging process, incorrect use of products, injury or trauma, extreme weather conditions or overusing products can deplete our moisture barrier, which then allows pathogens in and moisture to escape through the cracks in our skin’s moisture barrier. Over time, this affects the skin’s elasticity, cell regeneration function, and its vulnerability to infection, acne, signs of stress, and inflammation.
Peels that use multiple exfoliating acids at lower concentrations won’t disrupt the moisture barrier. On the flip side, a highly concentrated exfoliating acid can tear through the moisture barrier, creating new cracks. Sometimes we think more is more when it comes to acne, but in this case, to sacrifice one for the other is counterproductive.
Not as scary as it sounds
Feeling relaxed above the city streets, I didn’t want the pampering to end. But when I saw my radiant glow in the mirror, I was ready to take on the day. The dull-looking dead skin cells had been peeled away and I was left with diminished fine lines, less dryness, and flattened pimples. Desiree kicked my unwelcome friends to the curb and there was little evidence they had even been there in the first place.
Desiree advised, “over time, natural aging and external factors will contribute to new lines and breakouts. However, it’s possible to maintain these results with a regimen that includes both professional treatments and at-home two-step peels.” She didn’t have to tell me twice. With consistent chemical exfoliation, I could prevent signs of aging and prevent breakouts in the first place. Sign me up!
I may have walked in with butterflies in my stomach, but I strutted out with confidence. My skin felt dewy and healthy and strong – nothing scary about it at all! As I stepped onto the sidewalk, I caught my reflection in the store mirror, my skin didn’t make me feel like a new person, but it did make me feel like myself.