Exfoliating can be good, if you do it right


It's an image Dana LeConey would like to forget.

"I looked really bad, really scary for seven to nine days and it came off like a sheet. My skin was very sensitive. It was very painful," she said.

LeConey, who often serves as a guinea pig in the anti-aging clinic she runs with her husband, had undergone a very strong facial chemical peel.

"The whole idea of a peel is to trigger the skin to heal," said Dr. Richard LeConey with the Institute of Anti-Aging Medicine.

Chemical peels cause the top layer of your skin to slough off, revealing fresh, new skin.

"Back when I was in residency, that was the way to go. Then all of a sudden lasers took off. Now I'm seeing that the trend is going back towards chemical peels," said Dr. Lisa Hitchins with the Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston.

There are various strengths of peels. All are done under a doctor's supervision.

But now, there are dozens of over-the-counter scrubs and home kits promising the same type benefits. Dr. Hitchins says use them with caution.

"People who do a lot of microdermabrasion home kits or nightly apricot scrubs, you'll see the fine broken blood vessels on their face and that is injury that they've introduced," Dr. Hitchins said.

So what are some alternates to harsh scrubs and peels?

Joanie Verdina is opting for something less aggressive, called the HydraFacial.

"I wanted to find a more gentle way so that I could, you know, just keep my skin looking young," Verdina said.

There's also Retin-A in prescription form. It causes a slow peel of the skin.

"It is truly the fountain of youth in a cream," Dr. Hitchins said.

No matter what skin rejuvenation route you choose, doctors agree you should start slowly; and remember, too much can cause more harm than good.

Some doctors also add that chemical peels are not for everyone. More care should be used with darker skin tones, as well as extremely sensitive skin. You should talk to your skin professional or doctor to find out what regimen is best for your skin type.

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