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What peels do to your skin

Posted by Lara Schimweg on
Was Peelings auf deiner Haut machen

How good are peels for the skin?

If you want to try acid peeling, always start with very low concentrations and please do not use the peeling daily at the beginning. Your skin should have the chance to get used to this new stimulus.

Acid peels

If your skin tends to have heavy underlays or numerous pimples, you can actively intervene with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid (also called BHA or beta-hydroxy acid ) has an anti-inflammatory effect and removes dead skin cells. It loosens the oil from the pore so that the sebum can drain away better. Like many acid peels, it makes the skin more even.

Always be aware that BHA is an active ingredient that actively intervenes in your skin metabolism. This can be too much, especially for sensitive skin. Consider carefully beforehand whether your skin really needs this active ingredient. With a few small pimples, you don't need to trigger such a strong reaction. If you would like to try it out and have no experience with salicylic acid yet, find out more about the correct application and recommended concentrations.

The skin may become a little red or tingly. Does not matter. However, sensitive skin can also overreact with excessive redness, sores and inflammation in the skin. Always pay attention to your skin and listen to its needs. If BHA causes you severe pain, inflammation or excessive redness, it is better to stop using it immediately. No skin care product should cause such reactions. This is a clear sign of intolerance.

Since BHA ensures that the sebum can drain away better, the skin's appearance sometimes begins to deteriorate. Pimples then appear in the places where you generally tend to have undergrowth so that the sebum can drain outwards. The so-called purging can last approx. 4-8 weeks. If you get pimples and pustules in places where you've never had blemishes, then it's probably not purging. In this case it may be an intolerance. It's better to stop using BHA.

Attention: It is absolutely necessary to apply sufficient sunscreen every day if you use salicylic acid. Because the skin sheds, your skin is much more sensitive to the sun. You should also take good care of your skin, as BHA dries out the skin.

There are also the AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acid). We will be completely revising this article soon and will then focus more on the AHAs.

Natural cosmetics also contain fruit acids (AHA), such as pineapple, papaya or hibiscus extract. They are intended to make the skin smooth and more even. There are similar promises as with acid peels from conventional cosmetics.

These natural fruit extracts are also very potent. And unfortunately they have the disadvantage that you don't know exactly what concentration of natural active ingredients is in your product. And the natural acidity of fruit extracts can vary greatly. The acidity can be subject to natural fluctuations. What's more: with natural fruit extracts you are dealing with a variety of different active ingredients in one extract. For example, a pineapple is not a single substance, but a whole host of different active ingredients that affect your skin. These substances are not listed individually in the list of ingredients (INCI) . And that can be problematic for your skin.

Just because an ingredient is natural doesn't mean it's necessarily milder. You certainly wouldn't rub lemon on your skin. That would probably be too much acid for your skin.

Are there any mild peels at all?

A mild peeling alternative is PHA (Poly Hydroxy Acid) . This peeling moisturizes and, unlike other acid peels, does not make your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. In the INCI list you will find PHA under the name Gluconolactones . Unfortunately, there are also products that contain fragrances and other potent active ingredients in addition to PHA.

Also a mild enzyme peeling is usually very well tolerated by sensitive skin. There are often enzyme peels that also contain fruit extract. A pure enzyme peeling is much milder for your skin.

A PHA or enzyme peeling once or twice a week is sufficient. The decision is up to you and your skin. Because your skin can best answer what it needs. Mild is not always mild

Mechanical peelings

And then there are those mechanical peelings . These work with small particles that remove skin cells through mechanical friction. You might think that these would be much more tolerable than chemical peels. What's it?

Microplastics are often used in conventional cosmetics. This is problematic for the environment. That's why there are a lot of natural alternatives in natural cosmetics without plastic. You are probably familiar with peelings with coffee, sugar, apricot or walnut kernels. Unfortunately, these are not healthy alternatives - especially not for sensitive skin. All of these peeling substances are much sharper than microplastics and can cause tiny micro-injuries to your skin that you cannot see with the naked eye. These small injuries are entry points for bacteria and viruses, which can cause inflammation in your skin.

If your skin is sensitive, you should also use clay (also called kaolin or healing clay) with caution. If the clay is finely ground, it does not cause injuries to the skin as quickly. However, some people with rosacea do not tolerate clay well. It is better suited as a mask - without mechanical rubbing. You can find out more about the right one here Rosacea care .

By the way, muslin cloths or dry washcloths can also exfoliate your skin. Microfiber cloths are slightly softer, but are made of plastic and release microplastics into the environment when washed. A soft sponge, for example made from plant fibers, is better.

  • Mechanical peelings such as sugar, apricot kernels or clay in combination with fruit extracts are very irritating. Because fruit extracts can stimulate inflammation in small injuries.
  • When washing off mechanical peelings, small sharp grains of clay, sugar or coffee can get into the eyes and irritate them.
Scrubs made from coffee, salt or sugar are definitely suitable for the body. Just make sure your skin tolerates the peeling well.

And what does that mean now? Is microplastics the only option now?

No, fortunately there are already a few alternatives and more and more are certainly coming onto the market. If you have sensitive skin, you can use it without hesitation Jojoba beads exfoliate. In some products they are used instead of microplastics or sharp-edged sugar.

You can also use very, very finely ground ones Oats use to exfoliate. Sensitive skin tolerates it particularly well as it also soothes the skin. So it's better to leave the mechanical peelings with the sharp edges alone, don't use microfiber cloths etc. too often and only if your skin can really tolerate it. Oats and jojoba beads are better and milder.


For many “skin problems” less is more. With a little patience and a mild skin care regimen, your skin will likely improve in the long term.

And if you have sensitive skin, you always have your personal skin expert with you: your skin tells you much more quickly what is good for it and what isn't. Listen to them. No one else could tell you better. It's like eating: If your body tells you that you don't tolerate something well, you wouldn't eat it again. Or you ate something too high in sugar or fried food and got a stomach ache. The skin also shows you when it doesn't like something and becomes red or inflamed. If you only give your skin what it needs in the long term, it will be fine. This means you will have less inflammation in your skin in the future and therefore fewer redness, pustules or pimples.

What experiences have you had with peels? Feel free to write to us in the comments.
Lara Schimweg

about the author

Lara Schimweg is the founder of Xeno ® . She studied sports science and health research and is a trained health and nursing nurse. Lara has rosacea and very sensitive skin.

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