Erase Spa owner explains the best types of chemical peels for Black, Brown skin

You may have heard of Erase Spa. The hot spot located on 7th Avenue in New York City is known for its laser hair removal and esthetician services to big names like Serena Williams, La La Anthony, and Angela Simmons. But why is Erase so well known you may think?

Since its opening in 2014, Erase Spa owner Lisa Guidi has made it her mission to offer a safe space for people of color to achieve trusted spa results on Black and Brown skin. The services of the spa tackle concerns of acne, hyperpigmentation, cellulite, skin tightening, hair removal, anti-aging, and stretch marks.

As of recently, due to the power of social media Instagram Reels and TikTok, chemical peels have been all the rage with many people of color thinking that this may be the quick fix their skin needs to get rid of scarring forever.

At Erase, Guidi currently offers four types of chemical peels (with one more on the way). TheGrio chatted with the spa owner about the difference in her chemical peel offerings, the effects on Black and Brown skin, downtime, and who is a good candidate for this kind of service. 

Check out the interview below.

theGrio: So today we’re talking about skin treatments because chemical peels are the hottest new commodity for people of color. What are your top skin treatments for Black and brown skin?

Lisa Guidi: For ethnic skin, under the consultation and depending on what we’re fixing, my main go-to for somebody that has texture issues—meaning suffering from acne scarring or deep pigmentation— would be micro-needling with the Sensi Peel on top. That is definitely going to fix any texture issues and any pick marks in the face from severe acne. If we’re just fixing complexion issues for people who are suffering from pigmentation issues, the main go-to is the medical peels like the VI peel and The Perfect Derma. We’re bringing in a new one called Rev Peel that is for deep pigmentation, melasma, and sun damage that will be coming out in a couple of months.

(Credit: Lisa Guidi)

TG: Erase Spa offers the Sensi peel, the VI peel, the Perfect Derma, the Pro-clinical, and now the new one is the Rev Peel. In your own words, how can you explain the differences?

LG: The Sensi is normally is our go-to peel. It’s high in lactic acid so it’s very hydrating. And it’s the peel we would choose for somebody who’s never experienced a chemical peel before. It’s a great peel. You’re going to shed from it but it’s not going to penetrate six levels of skin like the medical peels would.

TG: So the Sensi is not a medical peel?

LG: You don’t technically need a medical director to sign off on it because the ingredients are not a medical-grade percentage. The VI peel and The Perfect Derma are. Those are peels that you need a medical director to sign off because the percentages of the acids are high and they need medical supervision to sign off on them.

TG: What’s the difference between VI peel and The Perfect Derma?

LG: The VI peel is typically our go-to for people that have less acne because it has less salicylic acid in it than The Perfect Derma. The Perfect Derma is our go-to if somebody wants the same depth of peeling but targeting acne and breakouts. We differentiate by the ingredients in them. They all have different ingredients and different percentages of ingredients. But both are great. The Rev Peel, the one that we are coming out with is super medical. It’s the most advanced. It’s deeper than the VI and The Perfect Derma to the extent that ethnic skin has to pre-treat the skin 24 hours in advance before they do this peel. 

TG: Who’s a candidate for the Rev Peel?

LG: People with severe sun damage, and severe pigmentation. It’s an amazing peel for anti-aging, and wrinkles because the depth it goes is different. But it’s safe for all skin types. I wouldn’t even introduce a peel here if it weren’t safe for all skin types because we have a huge percentage of ethnic skin from Latin, Indian, Asian, to Black so I have to cater to all skin types.

(Credit: Erase Spa)

TG: Was there a time when the peels weren’t safe while you worked in this industry? For Black and brown ethnic skin?

LG: I think it’s always a risk when you do peels on ethnic skin because you never know how people are going to respond. Some people have a post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation response to chemical peels where their skin gets darker before it gets lighter. Unfortunately, these are things you don’t know until after you do a peel. Can it be reversed? Yes. With more peels? Of course! But also sometimes people that don’t do the proper at-home care and scrub the skin that’s peeling off too much can cause hyperpigmentation.

So it’s a risk at the end of the day. You have to do your part as much as we do ours. We have to trust that the client is going to go home and not be peeling all the dead skin off of their face, which can cause more damage. And that’s for all skin types! Even lighter skin can do damage if they’re peeling the skin off because the skin is raw underneath.

TG: What’s the most popular chemical peel at Erase and why?

LG: Well, it’s kind of funny because everything becomes a trend nowadays. It was the Sensi peel for a long time and then we got the VI peel and everyone was doing that. Now we have The Perfect Derma and it’s like everybody wants to do this one cause it’s the new thing on the block. 

Another part of the Rev Peel collection is called the Enlightened Peel. This is a unique peel because it’s an at-home peel. It’s a mask that you put on your face and leave it on for eight hours. This is somebody who suffers from severe melasma, severe sun damage, and severe acne-like pigmentation. You have to leave the mask on for eight hours because it’s reversing the production of collagen in the melanocytes. So it’s creating a block and then it stops the pigmentation process. It reverses everything. It’s a 28-day step. You have to go home and do retinol, bleach, retinol, bleach every day. The bleach is hydroquinone. It’s 4%. But the before and after results are insane.  

TG: So what’s your personal favorite and why?

LG: I love tightening treatments. I love Clear and Brilliant. I love things that are going to exfoliate but tighten. I have very sensitive skin and I do peels maybe twice a year just to kind of give my skin a little bit of freshness. But because I exfoliate a lot at home and I use alpha and beta hydroxy pads every other day, I’m constantly exfoliating my face. For me, there’s no need to do peels that often. So if I’m going to do a treatment that I’m going to have downtime, I’m going to do something that’s going to help tighten my skin. 

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

TG: How often is it recommended for someone to get an in-office treatment peel?

LG: It depends on what we’re treating. So if somebody with severe acne comes in that’s actively breaking out, we would put them on a three-week regimen where they were just coming in every three weeks. We would start them out with three peels and then from there, we’ll see how much the skin clears up and let it do its purging. After that, we would probably put them on a facial treatment like hydrafacial or a silk peel. The silk peel is the dermal infusion.

TG: Tell me about the types of peels for the body like a bikini and large body part, and how they differ from the face?

LG: We use the same. We used to use PCA body peel. I don’t use it anymore. We used the VI and The Perfect Derma on the body because everyone just gets better results. The PCA body peel is high in TCA and we noticed a lot of ethnic skin was getting a lot of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on the body cause the skin is thicker.

TG: So that’s the difference? The skin is thicker.

LG: Yeah, so I just decided to convert all the peels to medical peels so that everyone has the same experience.

TG: Is there ever a case where you used just as much intensity on the face as you do on the body in the peel?

LG: Yes. Normally what happens is the areas need to have a condensed amount of solution on it. Now that we’re doing the VI peel on the body, it’s a little more expensive because we’re using the vials. So like, for example, I had a girl the other day that wanted to do her lower legs. But technically she would need four vials for that because it needs to be two layers of saturated solution for her to have an effective peel. If we were cheap and spread the solution out, she wouldn’t have an effective peel because it needs to be saturated. You can rub a little bit more vigorously on the body obviously because the legs can take it a little bit more intensity than the face. The percentage of the acid is always the same.

TG: What type of clothing should one wear if they are getting their body parts done?

LG: I always recommend loose clothing because you have to go home with the peel on. The VI peel, you have to wash off after four hours. The Perfect Derma peel, you can leave on the body if you don’t feel irritated. So you could go home with it on at night and wash it off in the morning.

(Adobe Stock)

TG: So is there downtime? Can you shower, swim, have sex when you have it on body parts?

LG: You have to wait at least six hours minimum to shower for any peel. If you go to shower and you have a peel on your face, the steam is not good for the face. So I will just advise anybody to hold off on any type of heat environment right away. I would wait to have sex until you shower because you don’t want the peel to transfer or you don’t want to get an infection because it can spread. It is acid.

TG: Do you customize your peels?

We do for micro-needling. So for example, there are pigmentation solutions for micro-needling. There’s an anti-aging one, there’s a brightening one, and there is one for acne. You naturally peel with micro-needling alone, but these are boosters that you would use on the face and this helps treat the affected area that the person wants to target.

LG: What does maintenance look like for a peel? What do you suggest?

TG: So it takes about 48 to 72 hours to peel. The body normally takes a little bit longer to start peeling because of the thickness of the skin. But the complete downtime is 7 to 10 days with chemical peels face or body because everyone is different. You just kind of want to give everyone that range. In between, you know, just maintain low-maintenance things. If you have to wear makeup after your peel, then fine, but I would highly recommend just trying to stay makeup-free. Use sunscreen and stick to a good skincare regimen with retinol to keep the skin turning over after. Especially if you’re somebody that just likes to do a peel every couple of months.

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

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