What's the Difference between Buffereed and Non-buffered Chemical Peels?

Buffered really refers to the pH level or how acidic the solution is...and that's important. Skin is made up of protein, and water, among other stuff. Proteins are complex chains of amino acids that are sensitive to the alkaline or acid level (pH) surrounding them. When the skin's proteins react with an acid in a low pH, the acid destroys the existing tissues. The lower the pH - the stronger the acid.

Anytime the natural pH level of a solution is changed, it’s called buffering. Buffering can increase or decrease a pH level. Buffered and non-buffered products can carry the same percentage of an active ingredient, but the strength of the ingredient will vary.

For example, one particular brand of 70% glycolic acid has a pH of 0.6. That’s been chemically altered to be lower than its natural pH of 1.0. This is to give it more action. The 30% glycolic chemical peel has a pH of 2.1. It has been chemically altered to give it a higher pH level.

The buffered products are generally sold for home use (for safety), although you can certainly get non-buffered products. The reaction is slower as well as weaker.

Products with a pH level of about 3.4, for example, are easy to use all night or all day since your skin won’t react negatively, yet they still have a positive effect.  Our skin has a natural pH balance of between 4.2 and 5.6, with men having slightly more acidic levels than women.

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