My Experience With the ZO 3 Step Peel - by Erin Bruton

I am 41 years old, and I take fantastic care of my skin.  I work as an aesthetician for Dr. Melissa Langley, and I help people with their skin for a living, for Pete’s sake!!  However, no matter how much SPF I slather on every day along with the best anti-aging skincare products, my skin still shows signs of what I like to call “maturity.”  I have that ever-so-subtle downward sag signaling that everything is on a one-track mission to settle at my jaw line.  I have lines forming on my upper lip that make me fear straws for more than environmental reasons.  No matter how rested I am, my eyes always lie and tell the world that I am stressed and need a little more sleep.  I constantly struggle to keep acne at bay and fear that my aesthetician license might be revoked at any moment due to the unacceptable number of blackheads on my face!! 

I maintain my skin with monthly glycolic peels to increase cell turnover, quarterly Botox treatments to banish muscle related lines, and Hydrafacials from time to time to deep clean my pores.  However, at the end of this summer, I was really in a funk over my skin.  The summer season, for all its pleasures, can really take a toll on one’s complexion.  Heat and humidity contribute to inflammation and dehydration.   Abundant use of water-resistant sunscreens can lead to uncharacteristic acne breakouts and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  Fun in the sun greatly contributes to loss of collagen and vacationing leads to a disruption in healthy eating and throws off exercise routines.  So, once the kids are in school and schedules get back to normal, we tend to take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and think “what the hell happened to MY FACE?????”

After taking stock of my current condition, I decided that it was time to throw something bigger into my fall skincare routine.  I was eager to try the ZO Skin Health 3 Step Peel because of my great confidence in Dr. Zein Obagi’s formulations.  This in-office chemical peel treatment is designed to offer bigger, more long-lasting effects than my monthly glycolic peels.  It works by aggressively exfoliating and renewing the epidermis while stimulating the dermis to produce collagen.  This combined action has both a firming and smoothing effect on the skin that results in a more youthful complexion.  It turned out to be my favorite peel ever, and I am excited to share my experience with you! 

THE PAIN FACTOR:  Let me be very honest… Having this peel administered was no walk in the park.  But you know what they say, “no agony, no bragony.”  I held an electric fan to my face as the solution was applied in multiple layers.  With each new layer, the peel became more and more intense.  The final 2 layers were pretty darn painful.  My eyes teared up and I had to utilize breathing techniques to get through the discomfort.  The pain only lasted about 5 minutes, however, and when it was over, my skin felt just slightly sunburned. 

THE DOWNTIME:  As the day went on, my skin looked pretty normal, I had redness around my mouth and on my cheekbones and my skin felt a little sensitive.  I was careful to stay away from direct sunlight and avoided exercise and heat.  The next day my skin felt a little tight.  As instructed, I applied a retinol cream and an oatmeal-based moisturizer that was provided with the peel.  I was able to wear makeup and no one was the wiser that I had had anything done.  I was starting to think that the peel did not have much of an effect on my skin, but then, on the 3rd day, all hell broke loose on my face!!!!

The surface of my skin literally began to crack open like an eggshell, and by mid-day I was having to use scissors to clip away large pieces of dead skin that were curling away from my face!  It was apparent to all that I had had something done.  This was a busy Monday at work, and I had a full day of clients.  Being an aesthetician, I just went about my day, starting every new conversation with the words, “don’t be alarmed – I just had a little treatment.”  Although it looked very intense, I was surprised by how little irritation I was experiencing.  I did not look like a burn victim, but more like a snake shedding its skin.

On day 4, I was looking much better as the peeling had migrated away from the center of my face and was affecting my cheeks, nose and forehead.  At this point, I felt comfortable applying a mineral foundation and people had to really zone in on my skin to notice what was going on.   I continued to trim the skin away and applied the oatmeal moisturizer several times that day to relieve the slight itchiness I was feeling.  My eye area was the most uncomfortable as it peeled away.  The skin was a little sore and itchy and I really had to concentrate on not touching it. 

Days 5 through 7 were a breeze, and I started to get excited as I noticed the fresh, new, beautiful skin emerging.  Some areas that had already peeled became flaky again and went through a second, milder exfoliation.  I stayed away from my normal anti-aging products and resisted the urge to scrub the dead skin from my face.

THE RESULTS:  Exactly one week after the chemical peel was administered, all the peeling had completed, and I returned to my normal skincare routine.  My skin did not feel sensitive at all!  In contrast, it felt strong and healthy and had an exceptional glow.  I noticed that my skin was producing a little more oil than normal, and I developed a few surface blemishes, but they resolved quickly as my skin readjusted to my products and reached a point of balance.  I received multiple comments about how great my skin looked!

It has now been several weeks since my peel was administered, and my skin looks better than it has in years.  I am experiencing less breakouts, my jawline looks more defined, and my eye area feels toned and healthy.  The most exciting change I have observed is that the fine lines on my upper lip are much less noticeable.  They are still there, but the skin looks plump and healthy and I am not as self-conscious about the whole situation.  I could not be happier with the fact that I gave this treatment a try and I plan to incorporate it in my yearly fall routine. 

Are you considering the ZO Skin Health 3 Step Peel?  If so, here a few things to know before you schedule:  Your skin must be pre-conditioned with the use of a retinol or retinoic acid for 4-6 weeks prior to treatment.   Individuals with melasma, dark skin tones, or those prone to hyperpigmentation must pretreat with 4% hydroquinone for melanocyte stabilization.  This peel is not intended for individuals who are pregnant or lactating, have a history of radiation therapy in the area to be treated, or are allergic to salicylates.  Individuals with a history of fever blisters/cold sores must pretreat with a suppressant for 7 days prior to the treatment and continue the medication throughout the healing process.   This peel may be repeated every 3 to 4 weeks if needed and may be performed 2 to 3 times per year for maintenance.  

Erin Bruton
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