Ask a Derm: How Do I Get a Brighter, More Even Skin Tone From Head to Toe?

Updated 02/07/18

We admit we focus the majority of our skincare efforts on our faces. But it’s summer now—time for our limbs to come out of hibernation. We can no longer hide behind chunky sweaters and oversized coats. However, shedding those layers often reveals a few unfortunate truths: fine lines on the chest are becoming visible, hyperpigmentation on the arms is getting worse, breakouts on the back won’t seem to go away. And then of course, there’s the issue of dull, dry, lackluster skin everywhere. The good news is there’s one solution to all of the problems (and more): body peels.

Scroll through to learn about the wonders of body peels!

Body peels are chemical peels, just like the ones for your face, except stronger because the skin on your body is not as delicate as the skin on your face. “The difference between a face peel and a body peel is that they have higher percentages of active ingredients to help erase stretch marks, sun spots, keratosis pilaris, dryness, and even out the skin tone and texture on your legs, arms, back, chest, and hands,” esthetician Kerry Benjamin says. “Removing the dead outer skin layer helps with product penetration, too.” Which means your body serums and moisturizers can penetrate deeper and your sunless tan will go on smoother.

All chemical peels help increase cell turnover, which is how they correct skin conditions like hyperpigmentation and fine lines. But don’t be intimidated by the word chemical. “Although they are called “chemical peels”, many of the acids found in them are naturally occurring compounds that can be found in plants and foods like milk, willow bark, and citrus,” Benjamin says.

A few key ingredients to look out for are lactic acid, Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA), salicylic acid, kojic acid, and arbutin. “Lactic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) naturally found in milk and sugars.” Benjamin says it’s also part of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor, which means it helps keep your skin hydrated. TCA is a medium-depth peeling agent used to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also one of the more commonly used acids. Salicylic acid is great for anyone struggling with breakouts. And kojic acid and arbutin both promote even skin tone. 

If you’re just looking for smooth, supple skin, you can see (and feel) an improvement in skin texture in just one or two treatments. “If you are looking to lift pigment or soften fine lines, it’s likely going to take a series of six treatments spaced three weeks apart,” Benjamin says. “If you looking to clear up body acne, a series of up to six treatments spaced two weeks apart is needed.” And don’t forget about your feet! Remove buildup from your heels and get your feet ready for sandal season with two to three treatments spaced three weeks apart.

They’re also a good option for those with sensitive, irritated skin, like eczema-sufferers. “Peels are great for sensitive skin because they’re not abrasive,” Benjamin says. “They effectively and gently remove the outer dead layer of skin, which helps to ease the discomfort and itching as well as significantly improve product penetration, which is essential for people who have severe eczema.”

Not ready to commit to the in-office peel? Test the waters with an at-home version like Cane + Austin’s Body Retexture Pads ($80) or Perfect Image’s Gly + Sal Exfoliating Body Lotion ($30).

Would you try a body peel? Tell us your thoughts below!

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