I Tried A Chemical Peel To Help Heal My Hyperpigmentation Woes

As I enter my thirties, I want to reclaim my status as "the friend with great skin".

I Tried It

Something went terribly wrong when I hit 31! Work was great, my love life was intact, and my relationships with friends and family had never been better, but my skin was an entirely different story.

In the past, I was labeled by my girls as "the friend with great skin". I could pick and choose the days I wore make-up; foundation and concealer were optional for me and hardly ever worn. My skin glowed on command and was flawless. That is, until a few days before my 31st birthday.

Writer Ianthia Smith

Pimples of epic proportions popped up on my cheeks and on both sides of my forehead, just above the brows. When one blemish disappeared, another appeared almost instantly in its place. The bumps were painful, swollen, and tore my skin leaving massive breakage and tears. "Healing" actually turned to hyperpigmentation and I found myself wearing makeup everywhere, even in the gym (only to watch it drip onto the floor mat as I did my fifth set of squats).

The worst part was, I couldn't figure out why all of this was happening now. I've had pimples before, but the size and frequency at which these appeared was alarming, I just knew something was wrong.

My "glow up" had dimmed and I didn't know what to do.

I tried everything, including but not limited to changing my diet, working out more, drinking more water, changing my makeup brushes, updating my skincare regimen…nothing worked! I finally visited my doctor who suspected I had a hormonal imbalance and put me on birth control and Retin-A. She also suggested that I try a chemical peel.


This sounded painful, but I was desperate to get back to the skin I knew and love. I quickly booked a consultation with the recommended dermatologist who confirmed that hormones were to blame for my skin problems and that a chemical peel would help to rid my face of dead, broken, and dull skin. She explained that the process uses a mixture of different acids that are applied to the face, given time to dry, and ultimately shed a thin layer of the skin to reveal a new glow.

About a week later, I went in for my chemical peel application. When I arrived at the doctor's office, I had to fill out a consent form and then, it was peel time! And if you ever consider this option as a solution to your dermatology-related woes, here's what you should expect:

Before My Chemical Peel Appointment


Before the application, I used a moist cloth to remove all products, sweat, and oil that was on my skin. The doctor then came in and used a cotton ball to apply the small cup of brown liquid to my skin. After about four passes, all the liquid was gone and it was time to wait and peel.

The Chemical Peel Procedure

Day One

The day of the peel, my skin had a noticeably orange color, of course because the product was still on. There was no tightness, no pain. I experienced a slight stinging sensation from sun exposure, but that's normal and once I blasted the air conditioning in the car, it became less bothersome.

I was given a post-peel kit, which included some anti-itch cream, sunscreen, and moist towelettes that acted as mini-peels that I had to apply for the next two or three days.

The Next Few Days

By the second day, my skin was still pretty normal looking. In fact, I even wore makeup on this day and no evidence of peeling was noticeable. My skin still felt fine and looked pretty normal as the orange-like glow started to fade.

Day three was when the fun began. I was almost excited to see my old, bruised, and damaged skin start to peel away. It started around the mouth area, as predicted. Since we're constantly talking and chewing, the peel usually starts here first. What began as a small spot of peeling earlier that morning had spread around my entire mouth and instantly I could see the amazing difference between my old skin and the new glow peeking through. It was like magic!

Day Three

Day four was pretty intense as the peel was in full effect! I could now see other parts of my skin start to tighten as it prepared to peel. Peeling around my mouth had now increased to my cheeks and forehead! With each passing hour, the old skin was turning a darker color and was slowly starting to lift away. So far during the process, there had been no pain, minimum itching, and hardly any discomfort…except for when I looked in the mirror, of course.

Here is where you'd want to load up on your favorite Netflix shows and snacks and stay indoors.

Day Four

By day five, my entire face was peeling, and I could now see the skin that had troubled me for so long falling away to reveal a new, softer, more supple face. It was indeed a scary sight to behold, but I could already see the results and it was so worth it. I could see a new me, ready to shine through. Aesthetically speaking, days five and six were pretty much all the same as the peeling continued.

In A Week

Seven days later, my new skin had arrived! The peeling was completely done and my face had never been softer and smoother. The dry patchy skin was gone, scabs and scars left behind from tearing had disappeared, my uneven tone had balanced out. Finally, my hyperpigmentation was lightening and my glow up was back on the come up.

The day before my chemical peel appointment, I had somehow convinced myself to cancel, but at the very last minute I changed my mind and I'm so happy I did.

Day Seven

Not only did the chemical peel have immediate benefits for my skin, but even more than two months later, I can still feel its effects.

I haven't seen one of those dreaded pimples in months (knocks on wood), my dark marks are still lightening, and my foundation now glides on my skin like butter. The downtime wasn't that bad either, I personally only needed seven days, and I was only stuck in my house for three of them.

Here's What I Think About Chemical Peels

Writer Ianthia Smith One Month Post-Peel

The words 'chemical peel' does sound scary next to each other, but for me it was a much needed addition to my tired skincare routine and I've now added it to my annual calendar. For anyone experiencing stubborn acne issues that just won't go away, I would really recommend speaking to your doctor about this procedure. It might change your life, just like it did mine.

Our faces go through so much drama on a daily basis, and just like everything else in our life we sometimes need to shed a layer or two to get back to our glory days.

Ianthia Two Months Post-Peel

Click here to watch my full journey or watch my experience by clicking the video down below:

Originally published September 11, 2018

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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