Since posting about Maxi-Peel exfoliant solution, I’ve gotten a few requests/questions about how to use Maxi Peel step-by-step, how to deal with the peeling, what moisturizers to use, and how to go about sun protection.
Before we go there, I’ll tell you about my skin first and what got me to try the product.
Before: My acne during my teens wasn’t that bad. I’ve always had acne but I’d consider it mild. I get tiny pimples here and there but I wasn’t really bothered by it. They’re always just small ones, not a pretty sight, but I dealt with it.
My acne got really bad when I was in my mid-20s (2009). I got clusters of small pimples and a galaxy of whiteheads that lay on top of each other. I get one or two cystic pimples but they’re not that frequent. I went to the doctor as soon as I realized that I was experiencing adult acne. Cringe-worthy story: An officemate/friend told me that in one of our meetings, I talked to my boss with one of my pimples bleeding.
In this photo, my skin was already on its way to recovery. My acne looked like this, only 5x worse.
Now: I only get pimples during that time of the month, and they disappear quickly. My face is clear for most of the month.
I thought you’d want to know this so you can manage your expectations — especially those who have it worse than I did.
MY PRESCRIPTION BEFORE MAXI-PEEL
My acne journey did not start with Maxi-Peel and OTC Tretinoin Creams. It started with the routine prescribed by Aesthetic Science Clinic. I hope I remember enough of everything that happened. Anyway, this was my prescription from them (their products are listed here):
- Kojic Acid Soap
- Anti-bacterial Toner (alcohol-based, I don’t know what the “anti-bacterial” ingredient is)
- CHAT 2% Solution (alcohol-based, CHAT = clindamycin phosphate, hydroquinone, alum, tretinoin)
- Sunblock Gel SPF 15 (no ingredients listed)
- Retinoic Acid .1% (Essentia Cream ie Tretinoin Cream)
- Blending Cream (Hydroquinone Cream)
In the morning, I was asked to use the first three products, in this manner:
- Wash face with kojic acid soap and pat the skin dry.
- With a cotton pad, swipe anti-bacterial toner followed by CHAT 2%
- Apply sunblock gel and stay indoors from 10am to 4pm.
At night, I was told to use all 5 of them:
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 above.
- Mix equal parts of Essentia Cream and Blending Cream, then apply all over the face.
This is a very strong prescription, each product has at least 1 potent active in it — at concentrations that are not at their lowest. As I mentioned in my post on easing into tretinoin, here’s what happened:
“On my fourth day, my skin was so raw that when I touch my jaw, I felt like I was touching raw flesh.”
In addition, my face shed like a snake. I remember flakes of my skin literally falling all over my keyboard. If I wore something dark, you’d see the flakes all over my clothes.
As I approached the end of my first week, I couldn’t handle washing my face with Kojic Acid soap. Imagine putting drops of calamansi, a la Ibong Adarna, on a fresh wound. The pain was enough to put me to tears whenever I wash my face. I was advised to push through with using the soap but I didn’t listen.
At the end of the 1st week, I was prescribed with a mild TCA peel procedure administered by an esthetician.
DEALING WITH IRRITATION AND PEELING
On the 2nd week, I gave the soap to E and never used a bar soap on my face ever again.
I washed my face with just water and continued with all the other meds. But I only applied the products on the areas of my face that were not raw and swollen.
I could afford washing my face with just water because I didn’t wear makeup back in 2009. I have only 1 makeup item, Avon’s Lip and Cheek Tint. Yes, just the tint. I didn’t even own face powder. The week ended with another TCA peel. My face was still irritated with a few new breakouts. I asked if they could prescribe me a moisturizer. I can’t remember what the moisturizer was, but it didn’t sting.
On the third week, the raw areas on my face started getting better. The redness also started to tone down. I applied the products on those areas again. My skin seem to be more tolerant by that time. Some of my breakouts started healing, but I still got a few new ones. Since I undergo a mild TCA peel every week, the breakouts dry out fast.
When I get a large pimple, they ask me to come back for it to be injected with something that’s supposed to either make the swelling go down or make the zit ripen faster.
The good thing about Aesthetic Science Clinic, unlike other facial centers, is that before or after a procedure, a doctor ALWAYS examines your face. If it’s your first time getting ANY treatment done (incl. just a basic facial), they won’t do anything unless a doctor sees you first. I’m not sure if they still have the same SOP, its been years.
(2009) Please excuse the annoying face, that’s the only photo I could find that clearly shows the contrast of color between my face and body. Not a look I prefer. Note: That’s without makeup.
By the fourth week, my skin was really getting clear and my dark spots were fading significantly. The doctor removed the nightly prescription for CHAT 2%. The mix of essentia to blending cream was also changed from 1:1 to 1:2.
By the end of the 2nd month my skin was super clear. But, as seen in the photo above, my face was urgh whiter than my body.
I asked the doctor if I could stop altogether. She said that the routine should be done for 3 months (apparently, that’s how long it takes before you get significant results from tretinoin). I guess, since my face was being literally peeled off, the results came super fast.
Anyway, I can’t believe I had a conversation with a doctor that went something like this:
ME: Can I quit the routine?
Dermatologist: Why? Your skin will not have that texture anymore, and you won’t remain white.
ME: I just want my pimples gone. I don’t want to be whiter.
Dermatologist: (Seemed surprised.)
I only re-purchased CHAT 2% and Essentia Cream (didn’t buy the rest of the other stuff). I started using Physiogel Cleanser and Lotion to replace the kojic acid soap and the moisturizer.
I used the products until I ran out. I then started using drugstore skin care products (I can’t remember which ones). I thought that my acne wouldn’t come back. I found out the hard way that there seems to be no cure to acne. It can only be treated. It might stop if it’s just a phase i.e. if your hormones normalize or if your skin suddenly starts shedding efficiently.
Basically, if you have acne as a disease, you would probably have to treat it for as long as you have that skin condition. As expected, my acne came back in about a month. That’s when I started reading a lot about acne and the ingredients of the products that were prescribed to me. That was also how I stumbled upon tretinoin creams and Maxi-Peel.
Note: I don’t use hydroquinone products anymore, but I still use tretinoin. My current skin care routine is at the bottom part of this post: Easing Into Tretinoin.