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Choosing a Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is a non-surgical solution to reveal newer, fresher skin for the face, neck and hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin, causing the older damaged layers to blister off. The benefits of chemical peels include the following:

  • Lightens dark patches, freckles and age spots
  • Reduces fine lines around mouth and eyes
  • Treats wrinkles caused by the sun, aging and heredity
  • Controls some acne
  • Removes some pre-cancerous lesions
  • Improves appearance of mild scarring
  • Improves the look, color and texture of skin

Deciding which home chemical peel is right for you can be a daunting task. With that in mind, we’ve put together some helpful information on some of the most common peels on the market today.


Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) derive their name from the molecular composition of the acid. These products include the subcategories of glycolic, lactic, and citric acids. These acids dissolve easily in water and can penetrate readily into the epidermis and upper dermis. The overall effect is upper skin exfoliation. Oily skin must be cleansed prior to application in order for these acids to be effective.

Eczema & Dermatitis, Fine Lines & Wrinkles, Razor Bumps, Stretch Marks and General Toning & Texture

Actinic Keratosis, Dark Circles Under Eyes, Dry Skin, Eczema & Dermatitis, Melasma, Psoriasis, Razor Bumps, Scarring, Sensitive Skin, Stretch Marks, Sun Damage and General Toning & Texture


Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), namely salicylic acids, are also named from the molecular composition of the acid. These acids are unique in that they are readily absorbed by the fat properties of the skin. Skin is composed of water and fat molecules that limit penetration from the outside.

Different from alpha-hydroxy acid, this acid is unique in that it can penetrate into the pores of the skin. This helps clear the pores and exfoliate the skin. Beta-hydroxy acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that result in less irritation, burning and stinging.

Acne, Acne Scars, Adolescent Skin, Large Pores & Blackheads, Oily Skin, Psoriasis, Razor Bumps and Warts

Acne, Adolescent Skin, Large Pores & Blackheads, Oily Skin, Psoriasis and Warts

Acne Scars, Actinic Keratosis, Melasma, Oily Skin and Scarring

General Guide

  1. Check the ingredients to see the percentage of AHA included in the product.
    • If you are using a peel for the first time, work up slowly and gradually increase the percentage of chemicals as you find the right level of exfoliation for your skin.
    • Know that the more concentrated (stronger) the treatment, the deeper the chemicals can penetrate into the skin, sloughing off more dead cells and erasing more wrinkles.
  2. Understand the risks.
    • Chemical peels can cause redness, irritation and peeling. The more potent the product, the more down time you will have to recover.
      1. On this note, always do a spot test before applying a product to the face to check for tolerance.
      2. It’s also best to test a product for the first time on a Saturday night when you know you’ll have at least a day to recover in case the product is too strong and leaves you looking red.
[sws_blue_box]If you have never done a chemical peel at home, the best thing to do is determine the type of skin condition you are looking to treat, skin sensitivities, if any, and type of results you would like to achieve.

Once the proper peel has been determined for your skin type, you want to treat a test patch area first. Wait 24 hours before a full facial treatment to see if there are any possible adverse reactions.

For the first application, since you are new to peels, you will need to start at an application time of only 1 minute.[/sws_blue_box]

Selecting a  Peel Strength

If this is your first time using a chemical peel, it is highly recommended that you start with a light peel and gradually move your way up to determine which strength is best for your skin. There are 4 main categories of chemical peels, each type providing different results. There are:

  • very superficial peel,
  • superficial,
  • medium depth,
  • and deep peel.

Do not be fooled with the category medium depth peels, these are still really strong peels and should be used with caution, the deep peels such as phenol we do not sell, because they are way too dangerous. The stronger the concentration of the chemical peel acid, the deeper the peel, and the more promising the results. For more information, please see Peel Process.

Chemical Peel Types

There are different varieties and methods of the chemical peel process. They vary by how deep the chemical penetrates the skin, the type of solution that is used, how much time the peel takes to neutralize, and how many coats are required.

There are basically three levels of chemical peels. Their risk, healing time and results differ by type. The following lists the characteristics, treatment and benefits of the three most common chemical peels:

Superficial Peel

These superficial peels use mild ingredients including alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids. They:

  • Can be used on all types of skin
  • Smoothes out rough dry skin and improves texture of sun damaged areas
  • Can control acne
  • May need to be done in a series of treatments

Sun block must be used afterwards for healing

Medium peel

Medium peels penetrate the skin more deeply and causes a second-degree burn. They:

  • Can smooth out fine surface wrinkles
  • Heal quickly
  • Remove superficial blemishes
  • Correct pigment problems
  • Be used on all body areas
  • Preferred for dark-skin
  • Repeat treatment may be necessary

Procedure takes about 10-15 minutes

Must wear sun block for several months following treatment

Deep peels

Deep peels penetrate several layers of skin. This causes a second-degree burn.


  • Should only be performed by a qualified plastic surgeon
  • Not advised for patients with heart problems
  • Complete recovery may take several months
  • Used only on the face
  • Should not be used on darker skin because it acts as a bleach
  • This type is usually done only one time


  • Corrects blotches from aging, sun and birth control pills
  • Smoothes out coarse wrinkles
  • Removes pre-cancerous growths
  • May permanently remove freckles
  • Permanent skin lightening and lines may result
  • Dramatic, long-lasting results
  • Infection and scarring can occur

Is a Glycolic Right for Me?

Are you looking for a solution to aging skin? Chemical peels have become a popular and effective way to reduce the signs of aging and brighten the complexion.

One of the most popular type of chemical peel is the Glycolic acid peel, commonly known as the “lunchtime peel”. The lunchtime peel gets its name from the fact that it can be done during lunch hour with no down time, meaning you can return to work and no one will ever know you had a peel.

Is a glycolic acid peel right for you? Studies have shown glycolic acid face peels can be effective in treating the signs of sun damaged aging skin.

Glycolic peels not only reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles, they also have been shown to stimulate collagen production which can help to slow down the aging process. In addition, they can reduce unwanted pigmentation due to age spots and long term sun damage.

Glycolic acid facial peels are generally performed in a doctor’s office and usually require no anesthesia of any type. The procedure takes about 20 minutes in most cases. The face is thoroughly cleansed in preparation for the glycolic acid solution. The solution is evenly applied to the face and neck and allowed to remain on the skin for about three minutes. The solution is then washed off. Most patients experience a slight stinging sensation while the solution is on their skin which is very well tolerated.

What are the Results?

After a glycolic acid face peel, your skin usually appears brighter and a bit more vibrant and rosy. It usually takes several consecutive face peels to see reduction in fine lines and wrinkling.

Side effects are minimal, consisting of some skin flaking and peeling for a few days after the procedure. In extreme cases, your skin may appear to have a mild sunburn. Since glycolic acid can make your skin more susceptible to the damaging rays of the sun, your dermatologist will probably recommend the use of a good sunscreen.


  • The disadvantage of a glycolic facial peel is the lack of an immediate beneficial effect on wrinkles, as repeated peels are usually required.
  • The other downside may be the cost. Although the price of an individual face peel can be quite reasonable, when a series of peels is required it can be more expensive.

Despite this, most people find the results quite gratifying and well worth the potential price.

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