“Oh don’t worry, I love to feel something working,” replied I, not wanting to inhibit him in helping my skin achieve greatness by the trifling issue of potential pain. I wasn’t lying – I enjoy little more than the fizz of a facial exfoliant working or vigorous rolling of a masseuses hands across tight muscles.
Dr. Wong applied step one to my face. It fizzed briefly and benignly, before really going to town on my face. I went from smiling serenely (‘I can handle this, Dr. Wong,’ my smile said), to a flurry of questions asked in panic; “should it hurt this much? My face is very hot, is that normal? Really, this is burning, will this stop by itself?”
The answer to all the above was yes. The cocktail of the three acids (salicylic, lactic and trichloroacetic) that comprise step one are self-neutralising and after a few minutes of action seemed to magically stop, leaving my face hot and a little tight. Dr. Wong prescribed a second dose. I prayed my vanity would see me through. It did. Just.
I was determined to stick out the pain as the skin benefits of a peel are manifold – it tackles fine wrinkles, large pores and pigmentation. This is the time of year to be having one for two reasons: the aforementioned skin nasties are all exacerbated by a summer spent in the sun, and, because peels render the skin extremely sensitive to sun exposure, British winter affords it an opportunity to recover with minimal further damage (as long as an SPF is applied daily).
Before seeing Dr. Wong for treatment, I interviewed him (as one always ought before seeing anyone for treatment of this variety). He is oh-too-familiar with the battle to keep skin and face in good shape himself – as a chubby youngster, he found his face had lost volume and the appearance of youth on slimming down, so took his training as a doctor and ploughed his knowledge and energy into medical aesthetics.
His opinions on controlling the ageing process through non-invasive cosmetic procedures are based on a wealth of experience (experience which his fresh-faced appearance handily defies). My notes on his wisdom read: ‘it is never too young to start: first signs of ageing can be addressed with Iovera (in which Dr. Wong specialises), skin peels, microdermabrasion and dermaroller treatments. Older skins can have frotox, botox, dermafiller, stronger skin peels and thread lifts.’
On caring for skin at home, he advises a simple moisturiser with an aqua or aloe base, a simple, cleansing face wash, SPF of 50 or higher daily, and warns about the dangers of over-scrubbing skin. He also advocates taking care of the skin from the inside out – a decent diet and supplements rank highly on his list of skin-perfectors.
My skin during the peel phase.
You are probably wondering what happened after my peel? Well, I took my boiling hot, bright red face to the loo and covered it in layers and layers of mineral foundation so as not to terrify my company that evening. I minimised my expressions (my skin felt as if it had shrunk considerably and didn’t like being stretched). Once home, I cleansed it gently, whimpering in pain when anything touched its surface.
After two days of angry heat, it started to peel. Dr. Wong was careful to point out that pulling on the pieces of skin would damage the delicate skin underneath, so I resisted the temptation. For three days, I resembled Madeline Ashton from Death Becomes Her (only I had no Dr. Ernest Menville to patch up the parts of missing skin). I dutifully rubbed the ‘Comfort Cream’ given to me by Dr. Wong in and followed it with SPF to protect.
Ten days on, and the peeling process has come to an end. The delicate, slightly reddened skin underneath is now normalising in colour but the texture of it is extraordinary – baby soft and smooth as glass. So, all in all, I’m rather glad I did stick out the second round of peeling.
3 Indispensibles after a peel /
1) Jane Iredale Glow Time BB Cream. If you intend on doing any socialising after a peel, you will need to cover red patches. Use a natural base that won’t irritate further – this nourishing BB is ideal.
2) Heal Gel Intensive. This was developed by surgeons to soothe, repair and protect. All things you will need post-peel (just don’t use on any broken skin).
3) SPF. A factor of 50 is a minimum requirement after a peel.