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Dr. Greg Altman Talks Chemistry of Peels

At Silk Therapeutics, we are often asked: What is the concentration of your peelIs it an aggressive peel?

We want to support women and men on their journey toward healthier, beautiful skin. We believe in giving people the information they need to make informed choices. When purchasing skin peels, it is helpful to know something about the chemistry of the skin.

In order to explain skin peels, let’s first talk about acidity and pH.

pH is represented on a scale from 0 to 14. The lower the number, the more active the acid is in the solution. The higher the number, the more basic the solution. For example, water, which is neither acidic nor basic, sits in the middle with a pH of 7. Household bleach has a pH of about 12, and hydrochloric acid (think of taking paint off of your car) has a pH of less than 1.

Acids are simply molecules that steal electrically charged particles, called electrons. In our skin, electrons are passed back and forth in a healthy, balanced exchange of energy.

Too much acid, and we start stripping the life (energy) out of our otherwise healthy skin. We are taught that if we intensely peel our skin and get that red, painful tingling we have all felt, that it must be working, right? Really?

In some instances, inducing inflammation with certain medical and laser treatments can be restorative, but again, balance is critical. The redness and tingling are signs that our bodies have detected something gone wrong, and that our immune system has kicked into repair the damage. When the skin is in such a vulnerable, wounded state, the harsh chemicals and skin irritants found in many products can more readily penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream.

So why do the labels advertise peels by concentration and not pH, when pH is the more accurate way to represent the concentration of working acid in a solution?

We’ve seen that peels try to out-compete one another, each one offering a higher percent acid than its competitor. In peels that offer 10-40% acid, it is simply a fact that the free acid was either neutralized by a base to form salt (ouch, that sounds dehydrating!), or it is a very strong acid that could cause you harm and should only be applied under the guidance of a licensed esthetician or medical professional. In many of the peels we tested while developing the Silk Renewing Peel, we found pH levels below 1. These are as strong as hydrochloric acid—a known paint remover or fabled tool of mobsters wanting to hide evidence of their misdeeds.

We’ve designed our peels without harsh ingredients so that they work as designed: to strip away only the dead cells and skin, and never damage the vital, living, beautiful layer beneath. This is targeted, precision skincare.

Our peels use just the right amount of acid, with a pH of 2.5, to disrupt the energy balance of just the outer layers. This causes the skin to release dead skin cells and to open the dermal matrix to receive nutrients delivered via serum or treatments. We’ve found silk is incredibly stable at low pH, which allows us to avoid the use of all other chemical stabilizers typically found in peels.

– Dr. Greg Altman, Co-Founder & CEO

 

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