The Cosmedica Chemical Peel
Let's go back to 2010 for just a minute.
It's hard to believe it's been almost seven years. Time is precious!
It was September. A few weeks before my wedding.
I was beside myself with frustration and anxiety over the state of my skin.
For well over one year, I'd been struggling with unexplained redness and follicular rashes on my chest and neck - and even behind my ears! It was a terribly strange breed of reactionary acne which was all stemming - of course - from an unknown source.
I tried absolutely everything.
I eliminated most irritants from my diet - including gluten and dairy. I switched my cleansers and other skincare products up several times - opting for both cheaper and more expensive items. I even tried using Head & Shoulders on my face. Note to self - please don't ever do this again! I did this because I was hoping the culprit was some sort of easily treatable infection or an issue of PH.
I felt embarrassed because here I was - a beauty professional. I studied skincare and aesthetics with one of the most reputable spas in British Columbia.
Why couldn't I find a solution?
I kept struggling.
My skin would get worse and then calm down. It was a stressful roller coaster ride.
You can imagine how nervous I was about my upcoming nuptials. It honestly sounds so vain and neurotic, but I couldn't think about anything else. These were the moments I really started to understand just how fragile self-esteem can be. And how - when your skin is affected - it's easy to lose control.
My soon-to-be husband - Jeff - had a close uncle who was a nationally renowned dermatologist, and he kept offering to give him a call. I've always had a strange aversion to doctors. I dislike being medically treated in general, so I kept putting it off until I finally felt there were no other options.
There was one problem, though. Jeff's uncle lived and worked in Edmonton.
Even though I was intensely frustrated, it was difficult to justify a flight to Edmonton given our current expenses with the wedding - so Jeff asked his uncle if there was anyone in Victoria he'd recommend.
That's when I was introduced to Cosmedica Laser Centre.
I went to see Dr Lupin and he fixed me right up. He used a special laser to reduce inflammation and after two treatments, the redness and rash subsided just in time for my wedding. It was during our honeymoon in Italy that everything cleared up - and I realized I was actually suffering from an allergic reaction.
In the end, I was diagnosed with Chemical Dermatitis.
Specifically, I'd become allergic to the bleach I was using as a hairstylist. I'd developed this reaction by repeatedly exposing myself to the same chemical slowly over time.
That's when I stopped working in salon.
Fast forward almost seven years.
I've been through a lot. I've learned a lot. And I've continued to follow Cosmedica Laser Centre.
When I was Executive Director of ma-luxe, we connected with several colleagues and experts who worked at Cosmedica Laser Centre. There always seemed to be one or two degrees of separation between us. I think it's easy to justify the frivolous nature of skincare - especially when you're busy - but I'll never forget just how awful and sensitive I felt about my skin in 2010. And ultimately - what a difference a few professional treatments made to my overall sense of wellbeing.
Since then, I've struggled with my skin in different ways.
I've come to understand that the two most important things I can do to keep my skin balanced and healthy are to minimize my stress levels and reduce my alcohol and sugar intake.
More on that later though...
I've also had the privilege of being able to try and test many wonderful products.
And there is a big but.
As I've continued to develop my knowledge and skills in skincare - and as I've continued to grow my personal brand and build this blog platform - I've become keenly interested in what I like to call the extras.
I'm increasingly interested in ways to drastically impact one's skin and see results quickly.
For the better - obviously!
I feel like I've gone back to my roots. I'm learning more about new technology in skincare and professional/spa-grade formulas and products with higher concentrations of effective ingredients. I want to help educate my readers about anti-aging techniques that really work - regardless of what's popular - because I think my generation is entering into a new phase where it's no longer just about prevention.
As we age, our skin concerns will shift over the course of the next few years.
I reached out to Cosmedica Laser Centre to see whether they might be interested in walking me through some of their more basic but potent and effective services.
And we decided to start with the chemical peel.
I think in general, chemical peels get a bad rep.
We associate the word chemical with so many bad things these days, but it's important to remember that essentially everything is made up of chemicals - even lavender and coconut oil.
Also, I think we're afraid of acids.
We've come to believe that they're really harsh on the skin. But the truth is, acids are a powerful skincare tool - not just when it comes to slowing the overall aging process, but also when it comes to reducing the effects of previous skin trauma and balancing moisture levels.
For a long time, lasers came in and knocked chemical peels over to the sidelines.
People were more interested in high-tech gadgets to help them in their anti-aging efforts, and chemical peels became less trendy. It's only in the last few years that skincare professionals have really started to tout the steadfast efficacy of chemical peels. Not only that, but product formulations are now more advanced.
In general, chemical peels are far more gentle than they used to be.
That means we get to reap the benefits!
My visit to Cosmedica Laser Centre started with a calming wind-down in their newly renovated waiting room. The main thing I love so much about this highly-reputable clinic is their level of professionalism. They've put a lot of effort into their customer service experience and it shows - even down to the subtly-flavoured water and chocolates waiting for you when you arrive!
I was given a full tour of the clinic - which includes a little room where they take before and after photos of every single client. Don't worry! These photos are entirely confidential. I was seriously impressed with their intake procedures, though. The main goal of the before and after photos is to track the progress of each client so the clinic can make sure everyone see's real results.
Cosmedica Laser Centre does a lot skin cancer analysis and overall skin cancer prevention and awareness, so the clinic is organized into two sides. The first side is reserved entirely for Dr Lupin's dermatological practice and the second side is reserved for more elective-type procedures.
And this is where I had a lot of fun!
I was greeted by Shayni and I immediately felt at ease.
The clinic is quiet and organized. It feels relaxed - but also incredibly current. You don't feel as though you're visiting a doctor's office - which for me was great because I strongly dislike medical clinics.
Shayni escorted me into a beautifully decorated room filled with skincare products and we started talking about skin. She recognized my skin-type instantly and understood my sensitivities. I tend to struggle with redness and a even a little early rosacea - and Shayni immediately identified my areas of concern.
She wasn't phased in the slightest by my sensitive skin. She was confident a chemical peel wouldn't cause any harsh reactions. But to tell you the truth, I was still nervous because my skin is really really reactive.
Here's a good measure though...
My skin has reacted more harshly to the dreary winds and cold that I often face when I'm out on my daily runs then it did to a chemical peel. In fact, my skin didn't react at all.
As I got up from the procedural bed at Cosmedica Laser Centre, I was fully resigned to see redness and irritation in the mirror. And instead, I saw my normal skin starring back at me - dewy and plump and fresh.
Suffice to say I was pleasantly surprised.
Shayni also officially introduced me to Skinsceuticals - which is one of the best skincare companies I've tried in a very long time. I've got an entire post coming on their products shortly. It's no wonder Cosmedica Laser Centre chose this L'Oreal-owned company as their primary skincare partner.
In case you're not aware, I have a very strict testing policy when it comes to beauty and skincare products. I test products for at least 21 days before offering my full opinion. I wanted to make sure I was giving the effects of my chemical peel time to settle before finalizing this post.
However, I did have work to do - and I ended up taking these photos just days after receiving my treatment. To give you an idea of just how good my skin looked after the peel, I've included a photo - the one just below - that has absolutely zero skin retouching. The only editing I did to the photo was adjusting some light levels and some colour grading to ensure it looked similar to the rest of the images in the collection.
I think I'm obsessed with chemical peels!
I was especially impressed with the sheer lack of downtime needed to recover from one. It used to be that after this of type service, you'd need to hide yourself away for several days. I went home and studied my skin. It felt smoother and looked clearer and there was absolutely zero irritation.
I was also able to apply my makeup immediately.
The entire procedure took roughly half an hour from beginning to end - and I use the word procedure lightly. There was little involved accept the application of different creams and good conversation with Shayni - who approached the service with knowledge and passion. I experienced slight tingling during one part of the peel - but was assured that it was a normal reaction to the process. Other than that, it was a completely painless experience.
For those of you who aren't familiar...
Here's my down low on what a chemical peel actually is in the simplest terms possible.
In order to maintain healthy skin, we need to exfoliate regularly. This means removing the top layer of dead skin cells from the surface. There are of course a few ways to do this. We can do it mechanically - this is where your typical facial scrub comes in - or we can do it chemically.
A chemical peel is a solution of acids that is topically applied to the skin.
These acids cause the skin to break away and eventually peel off. Not only that, but the acids used in a peel can speed up the recovery process so the top layers of your skin turn over more quickly - revealing newer, younger looking skin as a result. With gentle peels like the one I experienced at Cosmedica Laser Centre, the process is mild so you barely notice it. Chemical peels are often more gentle than mechanical services because they don't cause nearly the irritation and they don't tend to contribute to underlying issues.
Honestly, this service would be perfect for your lunch break!
After my service, I was invited to sit down with Jenny - Cosmedica's Resident Makeup Artist. Jenny and I actually know each other from my freelance days, so we got to catch up and talk makeup. And that's why this post is actually two parts. There's just so much goodness to cover.