Chemical Peel: What is it? Indications, Types, Prices, Procedure, Sessions, Risks and Side Effects

It is a higher-strength skin scrub with a pH that is generally around 2.0.

When most people think of chemical peels, they are probably familiar with the less resistant substances.

These types of scrubs differ from chemical peels for two reasons:

  • They have a higher pH.
  • There is less acid overall within the product.

When looking for chemical peels to buy, make sure your chemical peels have a pH of around 2.0. When the pH of a solution is 2.0 or less, the total percentage of that acid in the product is “free” to exfoliate your skin.

However, when the pH is slightly elevated, less of that product will work.

For example, suppose we have a 5 percent salicylic acid product with a pH of 2.0; that 5 percent would be completely “free” to work its exfoliating magic.

But when the pH of that salicylic acid rises slightly, less than 5 percent is active.


If you want to get the full effect of the chemical peel, make sure your product has a pH of around 2.0.

If all of that is a bit confusing, keep in mind that a chemical peel is simply a more robust version of over-the-counter chemical peels and, as such, requires a lot of caution when used at home.

Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel?

In general, fair-skinned and light-haired patients are better candidates for chemical peels. If you have darker skin, it can also work well, depending on the type of problem. But you are also more likely to have uneven skin tone after the procedure.

More severe skin folds, bumps, and wrinkles do not respond well to chemical peels. They may need other cosmetic surgical procedures, such as laser resurfacing, a facelift, brow lift, eyelid lift, or soft tissue filler (collagen or fat).

A dermatologic surgeon can help determine the best treatment for you.

What kind of chemical peels can I get?

There are three different types of chemical peels that you can get. These include:

Superficial peels use mild acids such as alpha-hydroxy acid to exfoliate gently. It only penetrates the outermost layer of the skin.

Also known as ‘noon or lunchtime treatments,’ they involve little to no downtime. Surface peels penetrate minimally, exfoliate gently, and are best suited for mild skin problems such as mild discoloration or texture. Rough.

Examples: Peels that use low-strength mandelic, lactic, and salicylic acid typically fall into this category.

Medium peels use trichloroacetic or glycolic acid to reach the middle and outer layer of abilities. This makes it more effective in removing damaged skin cells.

These penetrate deeper (middle layer of the skin), target damaged skin cells, and are best suited for moderate skin problems such as superficial scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and bothersome discoloration, such as melasma or blemishes of the skin. Age.

Medium peels have even been used to treat precancerous skin growths.

Examples: High Percentage Glycolic Acid, Jessner, and Trichloroacetic Acid Peels fall into this category.

Deep peels fully penetrate the middle layer of the skin to remove damaged skin cells; These peels often use phenol or trichloroacetic acid.

As the name implies, these penetrate the middle layer of the skin very deeply. They target damaged skin cells, moderate to severe scars, deep wrinkles, and skin discoloration.

Examples: high-percentage trichloroacetic acid and phenol chemical peels fall into this category. However, it would help if you never did a deep peel at home. Save that for top-of-the-line professionals.

Most homemade skin peels will fall into the superficial category. Great care must be taken with medium-strength peels.

How much do chemical peels cost?

Chemical peels are almost always considered a cosmetic procedure, and insurance rarely covers it. You will pay for the procedure out of pocket. However, your initial consultation visit may be covered by insurance.

The cost of the procedure will vary depending on factors such as location, the experience of the provider, and the type of skin you want to obtain.

Before getting a chemical peel

Tell your doctor if you have a history of scarring, recurring cold sores, or facial X-rays.

Before you get a chemical peel, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications and prime your skin with other medicines, such as Retin-A, Renova, or glycolic acid, for at least 48 hours.

Inform your skincare specialist about any medications you take, not having been on Accutane for at least six months.

The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications if you have a history of blisters or cold sores to avoid a breakout around the mouth.

Work with your doctor to determine the depth of your skin. This decision depends on your skin condition and your treatment goals; use special lotions to enhance the treatment, such as glycolic acid lotion.

Use a retinoid cream to prevent darkening of the skin, and stop waxing with depilatory products one week before exfoliation. You should also avoid bleaching your hair.

Stop using face scrubs the week before your peel. Ask your doctor ahead of time if you need someone to drive you home after your peel, especially for medium or deep chemical peels, which will require sedation.

If your doctor prescribes a pain reliever or sedative, take it as directed; you will probably have to take it before coming to the office.

Light peels can cost as little as $ 150, and deep peels can cost $ 3,000 or more (specifically if you require anesthesia or hospital stays). According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the current average cost of a chemical peel is $ 673.

How is a chemical peel done?

Chemical peels are usually done in the office; Deep peels can be performed in an outpatient surgical facility. Before the procedure, your hair will likely be re-tied. The face will be cleaned, and eye protection such as glasses or gauze can be applied.

Your doctor may numb the area with a topical anesthetic, especially if you receive a deep peel. Your doctor may also use a regional drug to large numb areas for deep peels.

They are particularly likely to do so if your face and neck are treated. You will also be given an IV for deep peels, and your heart rate will be closely monitored.

Light peeling

During a light peel, a cotton ball, gauze, or brush will be used to apply a chemical solution such as salicylic acid to the area being treated.

The skin will start to whiten and may have a slight stinging sensation. Once complete, the chemical solution will be removed, or a neutralizing solution will be added.

Medium peeling

During a medium chemical peel, your doctor will use gauze, a special sponge, or a cotton-tipped applicator to apply the chemical solution to your face. This can contain glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid.

Blue color can be added to trichloroacetic acid, commonly known as a blue peel. The skin will start to whiten, and your doctor will apply a cold compress to the skin. You may feel stinging or burning for up to 20 minutes.

You don’t need a neutralizing solution, although they can give you a handheld fan to cool your skin. If you have had the blue peel, you will have a blue tint to your skin that can last for several days after the peel.

deep peel

During a deep chemical peel, you will be sedated. The doctor will use a cotton-tipped applicator to apply phenol to the skin. This will make your skin turn white or gray. The procedure will be done in 15-minute portions to limit skin exposure to acid.

How many Peeling sessions do I need?

The number and frequency of the sessions depend on the process addressed and the technique used. As a general average, you need 3-5 sessions, and the frequency is usually monthly. The chemical peel needs several sessions:

  • To increase luminosity.
  • To improve the texture of the skin and the closing of pores.
  • To reduce fine wrinkles.
  • Peelings for spots on the skin.
  • Peels for acne.
  • Peelings to improve acne scars.

What are the risks and possible side effects of a chemical peel?

Common side effects are temporary and include redness, dryness, stinging or burning, and mild swelling. With deep peels, you can permanently lose the ability to tan.

However, chemical peels can have more serious risks and dangerous side effects that can be permanent. These include:

As for higher strength products, there will be flaking and redness of the skin. This can last 7-10 days.

Darkening or lightening of skin color may be more common in people with darker skin. Scarring can be permanent.

Infections – People with herpes simplex may experience flare-ups after treatment. Uncommonly rare chemical peels can cause fungal or bacterial infections.

Heart, Liver, or Kidney Damage: The phenol used in deep peels can damage the heart muscle, kidneys, and liver and cause irregular heartbeats.

The side effects you may experience depend on the strength, intensity, and type of skin you wear.

There will be little to no side effects for light peels like 15 percent salicylic acid or 25 percent mandelic acid. There will be some post-peel redness, but it should go away in two hours.

The shedding of the skin scab can occur within two to three days. However, this is quite rare, with light superficial peels.

Note: Just because it won’t peel doesn’t mean it won’t work! Don’t underestimate the strength of a chemical peel, even if you feel like it didn’t do much.

So be sure to do these scrubs when you can afford to stay home and hide for a while. (Unless you’re okay with looking like a lizard in public, and if you are, more power to you!)

What to expect after a chemical peel

Depending on the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs after the procedure.

The peel usually involves redness followed by peeling that ends within three to seven days. Gentle peels can be repeated at intervals of one to four weeks until you get the look you want.

Recovery time varies depending on the chemical peel you received.

Medium to deep exfoliation can cause swelling and blisters that can break, crust over, turn brown, and peel off over seven to 14 days. If necessary, medium depth peels can be repeated in six to 12 months.

Light chemical peels

Recovery time is four to seven days. Your skin may be temporarily lighter or darker.

Medium chemical peels

Your skin will recover in five to seven days after a medium chemical peel, although you may have redness that persists for months. Your skin will initially swell, then crust over and brown spots before revealing new skin.

Deep chemical peels

Deep chemical peels will cause severe redness and swelling, with a burning sensation or throbbing. It is common for the eyelids to close.

New skin will take about two weeks to develop, although white patches or cysts can last several weeks. It is common for the redness to last for several months.

During recovery, follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions closely. They will give you specific instructions on how often to wash your face and moisturize and what products to use.

Try to stay out of the sun until your skin has healed, and avoid using makeup or other cosmetics until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. You can use ice packs for 20 minutes at a time or a cold fan to help ease discomfort at home.

After treatment, you may need to bandage some or all of the treated skin for several days.

You will need to avoid the sun for several months after a chemical peel as your new skin will be fragile.

Rare side effects include:

  • Change in skin color (more likely to occur in people of color).
  • Infection.
  • Scarring (very rare, but possible).
  • Heart, kidney, or liver damage.

Heart, kidney, or liver damage is only one concern with phenol peels, which you should never do at home. These are even stronger than trichloroacetic acid peels.

The only necessary care is adequate hydration using creams with high regenerative power and strict protection from the sun photo.

In summary, the peeling will allow us to recover a more uniform and youthful skin, as well as attenuated spots, acne marks, and fine wrinkles.

How to do a chemical peel at home

In terms of ingredients, there are many different options to choose from. Since it’s all about simplicity, here’s a list of common chemical peels, listed from weakest to strongest, with quick summaries of what they do.

enzymatic peels

This is the lightest peel of the bunch and is considered a “natural” option because it is derived from the fruit. It is perfect for people with sensitive skin or who cannot tolerate acids.

But unlike alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), it doesn’t increase cell turnover. Instead, enzyme peels work to remove dead skin and refine pores in a way that doesn’t make skin more sensitive to the sun.

Mandelic acid

Mandelic acid improves texture, fine lines, and wrinkles. It is beneficial for acne and helps hyperpigmentation without irritation or erythema (redness) that glycolic acid can induce. It is more effective on your skin than glycolic acid when combined with salicylic acid.

Lactic acid

Lactic acid is another good starting peel because it is considered light and smooth. It smooths skin, provides shine, helps with minor wrinkles, and is better than glycolic acid for treating hyperpigmentation and general skin discolorations. In addition, it is more hydrating.

Salicylic acid

This is one of the best peels for treating acne. It is oil soluble, which means that it will effectively enter the folds and crevices of your pores to dissolve any congestion and debris.

Unlike glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid does not increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, leading to ultraviolet radiation-induced erythema. In addition to treating acne, it is ideal for:

  • Photodamage (sun damage).
  • Hyperpigmentation.
  • Melasma.
  • Lentigos (liver spots).
  • Parts.
  • Warts or excess dead skin buildup.
  • Malassezia folliculitis (pityrosporum), better known as “fungal acne.”

Glycolic Acid

This is a bit more intensive, and depending on your concentration, it can fall into “medium skin.”

Glycolic acid increases collagen production, refines texture, brightens and refreshes skin tone, reduces wrinkles, and is an excellent chemical peel for acne scars. And when I say acne scars, I mean the actual indentations left in the skin from previous breakouts.

Like all the other peels mentioned, glycolic acid also treats hyperpigmentation and acne, although less effectively than salicylic acid.

Jessner’s peel

This is a medium strength peel made up of three main ingredients (salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol). It is an excellent peel for hyperpigmentation and oily or acne-prone skin but should be avoided if you have dry or sensitive skin as it could be quite drying.

This peel will cause frosting when parts of your skin turn white during the peel due to the skin’s surface being exfoliated by the acidic solution. Downtime can last from a couple of days to a week.

Trichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acid is a medium-strength peel and the strongest of the group detailed here. Trichloroacetic acid peels are no joke, so take them seriously. Scratch that; take them all seriously!

This peel is suitable for sun damage, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, stretch marks, and atrophic acne scars. This will have downtime like a Jessner peel (usually 7-10 days).

Before you begin, be aware that you can experience adverse side effects. These ingredients are powerful and should not be used casually daily or more than once a week.

As always, it’s best to check with your primary healthcare professional first before deciding to do a chemical peel at home. This information is for educational purposes to ensure that you have the precise technical knowledge if you choose to perform a chemical peel.

With the peel you start with, try the patch first! For a patch test:

Apply a small amount of product to your skin in an inconspicuous area, such as the inside of your wrist or your inner arm. Wait 48 hours to see if there is a reaction. Check the site 96 hours after application for a delayed response.

Slowly incorporate it into your routine. Your patience will be rewarded, and safety is of the utmost importance. If you still want to leap healthier skin, follow these steps precisely to mitigate the potential risks.

It may not seem like enough, and to be honest, it probably isn’t, but when you start, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Ideally, you would increase the time you leave it on your face in 30-second increments each session until you have reached the maximum limit of five minutes.

For example, let’s say you start with a 15 percent mandelic acid peel. The first week you would leave it on for only 30 seconds.

Next week, one minute. The following week, 1 minute 30 seconds, etc., until you have worked up to five minutes.

If you’ve hit the five-minute mark and feel like your chemical peel isn’t doing enough yet, this would be the time to move forward in percentage.

In other words, instead of using a 15% mandelic acid peel, you would move up to 25% and repeat the entire process, starting over by leaving it on for 30 seconds for the first application.

With all that said, as soon as you apply the peel to your skin, keep track of your timer until the allotted time has elapsed (30 seconds minimum, five minutes maximum).

And that is! You have now completed your first chemical peel!