My Depigmentation Peel

Posted on May 30th, by Helen in Blog, Skincare, Treatments, Wedding Prep. No Comments

My Depigmentation Peel

Sunscreen. Vitamin C. Retinol. Treatments. What a difference one year of following Dr. Kellett’s skin gospel can make.

Just look at my before photo above taken last May. See all of those sunspot scattered across the bridge of my nose and my upper cheeks? Head north and you’ll also notice two large dark spots on my forehead. Even more frustrating is the fact that I was wearing thick foundation and concealer that day, and the spots still showed through.

To skin care experts, those marks on my forehead are “PIH” – skin-speak for Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: pigment that occurs in response to skin injury. The trauma that caused the dark divot on the right side is the result of childhood chicken pox and the other divot is from a face-plant on the floor sometime during my preschool years. So I had these all of my life, and have become accustomed to covering them up with makeup in the morning. As for the dark band of sunspots across my nose and cheeks, well, those are just a result of aging, asian genes (we get brown spots faster and sooner than any other ethnicities) and plain old neglect (I never wore sunscreen growing up at all).

The after photo was taken yesterday, exactly two weeks after getting a specialty peel at Dr. Kellett’s clinic. Called the Depigmentation Peel at DLK on Avenue in Toronto this is by far the most effective and expensive peel I have ever done. At $1100, this melanin-busting treatment isn’t like those $150 lunchtime peels you can get at run-of-the-mill med-spas. The DLK pigment-busting peel is a customized formula of high levels of proven chemical agents combined with new-generation depigmentation ingredients (no hydroquinone). Note: They have many types of peels, and this is just one on the higher price point.

The peel that I had done contained lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sour milk known for it’s smoothing and hydrating properties. AHAs work by melting epidermal cells, causing these dead skin cells to shed, providing the skin with a healthier texture. Also in the peel are azelaic and kojic acid, lightening agents derived from plants which target the pigment cells (melanocytes) that are located deep in the epidermis.

Very importantly, the peel I had done was administered under the care of Dr. Kellett, who is one of the most reputable derms in Toronto. Before even booking the appointment for the peel, Dr. Kellett screened me with questions about my health history, sun habits, and skincare regime, as if I were applying for a sure-shot at getting my dream skin.

Pre-Peel Care

After telling Dr. Kellett that I’ve been using her trifecta of anti-aging products at home (SPF 30, Vitamin C, and Retinol), and about my stagnancy with IPL, she suggested that I would be a good candidate for her depigmentation peel, which involved a few weeks of preconditioning my skin with a brightening product, these Luminate Pads.


$250 per container

Soaked with pigment inhibiting ingredients, arbutin and kojic acid plus salicylic acid, these pads have done wonders for my complexion in terms of texture, luminosity, and reduction in breakouts. I’ve been using them since December, and I’m currently on my third container and consider these an essential product in my skincare regime now. Note: Because these pads are hydroquinone-free, you can use them longterm.

The only bummer about these pads is that you can’t buy them online, as they must be freshly mixed at the clinic by a medical aesethetician to ensure potency of the active ingredients and that you are using them correctly. Trust me, you will be tempted to overuse them! After just one week of using the pads every other night, my skin looked so smooth that I wanted to use them every day, twice a day! But I had up build my skin’s tolerance to them slowly. When I returned to the clinic after two and half months to get another container of them, their senior aesthetician Helen L. suggested that I could amp up my usage to every night in order to really prepare my skin for the peel, as it could help lift the melanocytes closer to the skin’s surface making it potentially easier for the peel to whisk them off. Ok so fast-forward to the actual treatment.

The Peel

kim2The procedure was super quick. The medical aesthetician, Kim, cleansed my face and then applied the clear solution using a large cotton swab. I was sent home with the peel still on, and was instructed to wash it off two hours later with the anti-redness foaming cleanser included in my post-care kit. My kit contained 5 products: the cleanser, a sunscreen, two soothing emollient creams to help my soon-to-be flaking face look normal, and a night cream enriched with depigmentation actives. Apparently, most of the melanin-busting magic happens with home care, so Kim spent a great chunk of time instructing me on how to use each product correctly. It’s not that different from any other skincare regime (cleanse, moisturize and protect), only with different products. If you’re forgetful, the kit comes with a handy reminder card with all the steps laid out, which you can tape on your bathroom mirror like I did.

The Peeling 

As with most chemical peels, you can expect some redness and/or facial dandruff in the first week. I was warned that the sloughing would last 7-10 days, but for me the flaking didn’t subside until day 14, with major snake skin happening on day 5 and onwards…

peel day 5

No matter how much of the emollient cream I slapped on, the flaking around my mouth was visible, at least to me. Nobody really said anything unless I pointed it out, but then again, people are polite. I had to keep reminding myself that with clinical treatments, it always looks bad before it looks good.

My Results

I cannot believe how effective this peel has been for me. Not only is my skin softer and smoother (most likely due to the lactic acid and the fact that peels in general increase the moisture-binding qualities in the dermis), but most impressively, some of spots on the bridge of my nose have completely vanquished and some of the most stubborn spots on my cheeks are significantly lighter. Another noticeably lighter area is my upper lip, an area that has been getting progressively darker due to years of waxing my upper lip. Waxers, take note: Heat and trauma can excite melanin-making cells so ease off the waxing if you’re prone to hyperpigmentation. Here’s a pic of the area at it’s peak of dyschromia (skin-speak for discolouration)…

Lip 2013And now, look at how lighter and cleaner the area looks after the peel…


If I had to use an analogy to describe how this peel works, think of those rectangular white latex erasers. You know, the ones you had to buy separately and probably used in your high school algebra class, when we actually used pencils. I’m not talking about those hard rubbers on the end of cheap wooden pencils that did more smudging than erasing…

pencils…I mean these guys…eraser

The Depigmentation Peel at DLK on Avenue works just like those reliable (slightly expensive) erasers, gently rubbing off life’s little blemishes from your face. Worth every penny because it works.







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