A chemical peel uses a chemical solution to remove layers of skin, revealing the more youthful skin underneath. Chemical peels can reduce or improve fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scars, uneven skin coloring and other skin imperfections.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel, also known as chemexfoliation or dermapeeling, uses a chemical solution to improve the appearance of your skin. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to your skin, which causes trauma or injury to your skin’s layers. The skin layers eventually peel off revealing more youthful skin. The new skin is usually smoother with fewer lines and wrinkles, has a more even color and is brighter in complexion.
What conditions does a chemical peel treat?
Chemical peels are used to treat certain skin conditions or to improve your appearance by improving the tone and texture of your skin.
Chemical peels are most commonly performed on your face, neck or hands. They can help reduce or improve:
- Fine lines under your eyes or around your mouth and wrinkling caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors.
- Certain types of acne.
- Mild scarring.
- Sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, uneven skin coloring.
- Precancerous scaly spots called actinic keratosis.
- Rough skin, scaly patches, dull complexion.
- Dark patches (melasma) due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills. Common acids used include:
- Glycolic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Phytic Acid
- Retinoic Acid
- Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
- Carbolic Acid
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1. Glycolic Chemical Peel
Sometimes, you need a deep chemical peel. Out of all the chemical peels available, the glycolic peel penetrates your skin the deepest, so it’s the best one for exfoliation. This is due to glycolic acid’s small molecular structure, which allows it to penetrate deep into the layer of skin. It’s also good for bringing a healthy glow back to aging skin.
Glycolic acid is used to dissolve and allow dead skin cells to slough off. The result is a smoother skin surface with clear pores. A.k.a., beautiful skin.
Glycolic peels, and other deep peels, come in different intensities and can affect your skin differently depending on how strong it is. Looking for a deep chemical peel? Glycolic peels may be for you.
2. Lactic Chemical Peel
If your skin is sensitive, some of the peels on this list may irritate it. You may want to look into a light chemical peel, such as a lactic peel. As the name suggests, lactic peels come from milk and utilize lactic acid. It’s not only gentle on easily irritated skin, but also moisturizes dry skin.
3. Beta Chemical Peel
Acne can be embarrassing and annoying to deal with. If you have a bunch of problem breakouts, a beta peel will be able to help you. It contains salicylic acid which is great for exfoliation and oil control. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Salicylic acid takes care of the bacteria that cause acne breakouts to give you the relief that you’ve been searching for.
4. Vitalize Chemical Peel
If you’ve never had a chemical peel before, the vitalize peel is a good place to start because there is little peeling involved with it. It uses citric acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and retinol to lighten your skin’s pigmentation and improve its overall quality. This type of chemical peel is a good place to start for many skin types.
5. TCA Chemical Peel
Trichloroacetic Acid, often referred to as TCA, is an effective chemical agent used to exfoliate and renew the skin from a superficial to deep level. TCA is commonly applied to the face, neck, décolleté, hands and legs. In addition, Trichloroacetic acid is also an excellent “spot treatment” and can be used to exclusively peel isolated areas of the skin.
There are many benefits of superficial peels. Among the most notable is the ability to adjust the depth to fit the particular skin problem. As more coats are applied, the peel will get deeper, as the solution goes looking for protein to neutralize itself. The long-lasting results make it an ideal peel for those who prefer less peeling sessions at the cost of moderate downtime.
6. Retinol Chemical Peel
Retinol is a form of vitamin A, which is used in skincare products as it encourages the growth of skin cells once it is applied. Due to its small molecular size, retinol is able to penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin. As this is where your live cells are, the retinol that reaches this level encourages your skin cells to grow and renew. A retinol peel can also help unclog your pores and reduce acne outbreaks by allowing the cleansed skin to heal. A retinol peel is ideal if you want to rejuvenate, hydrate and refresh your complexion. If you have more specific skin concerns including acne or aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles, then a retinol peel could be the perfect solution for you to reduce symptoms.
7. Mandelic Chemical Peel
Mandelic acid is a go-to anti-aging ingredient in the world of skin care. It works to accelerate cell turnover by dissolving the tiny bonds that hold the cells of the skin together, helping to remove dead skin on the surface of the skin that can lead to dull complexions as well as lines. It also strengthens collagen, one of the building blocks of the skin’s support network that gives it a youthful firmness.This increased rate of sloughing thins the outermost layer of skin called the stratum corneum. A thinner stratum corneum reflects light better and makes skin look smoother and more youthful. Mandelic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids generally soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin texture.
8. Jessner Peel
Like all other chemical peels, the Jessner peel is done by brushing on a chemical solution called acidic liquid to remove the top layer of skin and encourage new, younger looking skin to grow. The Jessner peel was first formulated over a hundred years ago, and it’s still in use today thanks to its ability to:
- reduce dark patches and age spots
- even out skin tone
- reduce the appearance of scars
- smooth fine lines and wrinkles
- treat melasma (skin discoloration), hyper-pigmentation, and acne scars
While many chemical peels can cause lasting discoloration on darker skin, a recent small study found that a modified Jessner’s solution safely and effectively reduces melasma and pigment imperfections in darker skin. It has also been shown to be an effective treatment of acne scars even when used as a superficial peel according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology.
9. Vitamin C Peel
Vitamin C is one of the best-known defenses against free radicals (such as pollution, sun rays, and cigarette smoke) that can cause your skin to lose elasticity and sag. As a result, your skin loses its ability to shed dead skin cells, causing a dull and uneven appearance. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to neutralize these free radicals, by preventing them from oxidizing on your skin. This peel can also help anyone suffering from acne, as it deeply cleanses pores and provides an anti-bacterial action to prevent them from reappearing. The acid found in Vitamin C also works as a bleaching agent that can help restore imbalanced skin tone and help fade blemishes.
10. Alpha Jewel Peel
This is a summer safe peel with minimal downtime. Perfect for those “on the go” that do not want a lot of downtime. Alpha Jewel Peel Professional System is intended to remove the outermost layers of dead skin with the added bonus of precious gems. This unique element leaves trace amounts of essential minerals that create large levels of antioxidants to help neutralize stressed skin.
11. Pigment Balancing Peel
Like the vitalize peel, the pigment balancing peel also works with a series of acids to lighten the pigmentation of the skin. It can also get rid of brown spots, but this will take a little more time.
You can’t expect them to go away with your first session. You’ll need to go a few times for this to take effect. On top of semi-regular peels, you’ll also need to use sunscreen when you go out or your results will be limited.
12. VI Chemical Peel
VI Peels are medical-grade chemical peels. The are typically used to treat acne, acne scarring, fine lines, age spots/skin discoloration, sun damage spots, wrinkles, melasma, enlarged pores and more. The VI peel goes deeper than many other peels, penetrating the dermis of the skin. It is most often done on the face, neck and chest.
VI Peels are effective for all skin types, tones and ages. VI chemical peels, with their many acids and vitamins, attack skin problems at the cellular level, rather than just the surface.
Book an Chemical Peel appointment with Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeons (BHPS)
How are chemical peels performed?
A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor’s office or in a surgery center as an outpatient procedure. Your skin will be thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils, while your eyes and hair are protected. A chemical solution is then applied to your skin. Chemical solutions typically used include glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol). The different types of chemicals cause a controlled injury, each penetrating through to a different skin depth, then peeling away to reveal a new layer of skin.
The different chemical solutions provide different results. The choice of chemical depends on your goal. You will work with your dermatologist to determine the depth of your peel.
- A light (“lunchtime”) chemical peel provides subtle improvement over time and is often done in a series. The outermost layer of skin is removed. This choice may be best if you have fine wrinkling, acne, uneven skin coloring or dry, rough sun-damaged skin to help promote a healthy glow. Recovery from this type of peel may be within hours to a few days but with little to no down time.
- A medium chemical peel gives your skin a smooth, fresh look. The outermost layer and the upper part of your middle skin layer are removed. This choice may be best if you have uneven or moderate skin discoloring, age spots, acne scarring or fine-to-moderate wrinkles. Recovery from this type of peel may take a week or more and require some down time.
- A deep chemical peel produces the most dramatic results. This chemical penetrates down to the lower middle layer of your skin. Recovery time is longer with a deep peel. This choice may be best if you have moderate lines and wrinkles, extensive sun-damaged skin, deep acne scars, blotchy skin, and/or precancerous growths called actinic keratosis. A deep chemical peel requires pretreatment for up to eight weeks. Your doctor will provide specific instructions. A deep chemical peel is a one-time only treatment if applied to your face and does have significant down time.
To prepare for your chemical peel, some general instructions include:
- Avoid tanning and direct sun exposure for two weeks before each treatment.
- Apply topical products (such as hydroquinone) as instructed before treatment to prepare your skin.
- Don’t use any products containing retinoids (such as tretinoin) one to two weeks before treatment, unless your physician tells you differently.
- If you have been prescribed oral antibiotics or an oral antiviral medicine, start taking it at least 24 hours before your chemical peel.
- Peel areas must be free of any open sores, lesions or skin infections.