Chemical Peels for Youthful Skin: Everything You Need to Know

Chemical Peels for Youthful Skin: Everything You Need to Know

Skin Care Benefits of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are a type of skin resurfacing process which involves the use of chemicals to remove or loosen the outer layer of dead skin to help in the treatment of dark spots, uneven skin tone and fine lines. Highly popular as a skin care treatment for over 50 years, today’s peels thanks to innovations in chemical formulations are more effective and accessible than ever.

The newest, most effective type of chemical peel is a light peel made for sensitive skin types, with a low concentration of AHA or BHA acids. These new light chemical peels don’t feel as intense as the older, stronger ones because they don’t penetrate as far into the upper layers of the skin like old peels did.

All peels, old and new, remove layers of dead cells from the surface of the skin, usually from 1-2 mm deep.  This process also stimulates the production of new, healthy cells below the peel and promotes collagen growth.

So, how do peels work?

Chemical peels work by causing the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) to peel away. This can be done by means of an acidic solution applied to the skin, or sometimes by using some form of light treatment. The chemical compounds in these solutions can vary, but some common ones are glycolic acid, which is derived from sugar cane; salicylic acid; and lactic acid, which is found in sour milk or yogurt. These acids make the outer layer more conducive for new cell growth and new collagen production.

A peel will remove the outer layer or layers of skin, which can result in improved skin texture and clarity. This is done by applying a chemical solution to the skin that causes it to disintegrate, revealing new layers of healthy skin below. The peel may be done on just about any area of your body but is typically performed on your face or hands.

Can you do a chemical peel at home?

Yes! Chemical peels can be performed at home with over-the-counter products containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). 

AHA, is the most common chemical peel. It is a mixture of water and fruit acids that gently exfoliate the outer layer of the skin. It can be applied at home or in a dermatologist’s office. When applied by a dermatologist it generally takes longer. How much longer will depend on the intensity of the desired outcome. 

How chemical peels work

What conditions do chemical peels treat?

From reducing wrinkles, to improving acne and fading age spots peels can help treat a number of skin condition. They are are mostly used to treat textural irregularities on the surface of the skin like fine lines, uneven texture, large pores, and pigmentation.

Chemical peels are usually non-invasive, meaning they do not involve surgery, injections or laser treatments. One or more treatments may be needed before seeing desired results.

What conditions does a chemical peel treat?

From reducing wrinkles, to improving acne and fading age spots peels can help treat a number of skin condition. They are are mostly used to treat textural irregularities on the surface of the skin like fine lines, uneven texture, large pores, and pigmentation.

Chemical peels are usually non-invasive, meaning they do not involve surgery, injections or laser treatments. One or more treatments may be needed before seeing desired results.

What's the Difference Between a Chemical Peel and a Facial?

Chemical peels and facials are both treatments that rejuvenate the skin. However, they work in different ways. Peels remove the outer layers of dead skin cells to reveal fresh new ones underneath, while facials provide a deep cleanse and exfoliation for healthier looking skin.

Risks and potential side effects

Side effects of chemical peels are not common, but they do happen. They can range from mild to severe.

There risks associated with chemical peels include:

It is important to know that peeling agents work by removing the outer layer of cells on the skin’s surface; they do not affect anything that resides deeper in the tissues. The goal is to produce a controlled injury that will allow new cells to form and move up into the injured area from below.

The peak of peeling, depending on peel depth, can take 2-3 days.

In general, chemical peels are safe and there are minimal risks associated with them if they’re administered by a qualified practitioner or licensed esthetician who knows what they’re doing. 

Self care after a chemical peel

Chemical peels are generally safe for most people, but there are some precautions that need to be taken after a treatment.

Good post peel aftercare includes putting on sunscreen, using hydroquinone cream to reduce hyperpigmentation, and using retinoid cream to prevent peeling skin from getting worse.

Self-care is just as important as any other part of a treatment because it allows the skin to recover and heal itself.

A peel can cause your skin to dry out and become sensitive, so it’s important that you do not go outside without sunscreen or stay in direct sunlight for an extended period of time. 

In case of swelling  a cold compress can be very soothing and can help the skin heal faster. There’s an urban myth that cold compresses work against the benefits of a chemical peel. But we assure you this is not true. 

How do different skin types react to different types of peel

Different peels exist for different skin types and needs:

  • Chemical peels for sensitive skin will often use a lower percentage of acid in order to avoid irritation or sensitivity.
  • Chemical peels for dry skin will often be combined with a moisturizer before application in order to maintain hydration levels.
  • In order to improve oily skin, a chemical peel treatment might be combined with other treatments such as facial extractions or a salicylic acid treatment.
  • Superficial peels are the best options for dark skin. Your doctor may first try low levels of glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Studies show glycolic acid and salicylic acid are safe and effective. These, along with retinol and Jessner peels, have the lowest skin complications with the best results. People with darker skin are more likely to have an uneven skin tone after the procedure
  • People with fair-skinned and light-haired patients tend to get the best results from chemical peels.
  • A chemical peel is when you rub a strong chemical onto your skin in order to exfoliate dead skin cells that have built up over time. Once the dead cells have been removed from the surface it leaves behind new ones that are clean and glowing.

What chemical peels are available? 

There are a growing variety of different peels designed to meet individual skin care needs including:

  • Glycolic Acid Peel – This peel removes dead skin cells and improves the texture and tone of the skin.
  • Lactic Acid Peel – This peel reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation.
  • Mandelic Acid Peel – This peel is recommended for those with sensitive or aging skin as it targets uneven pigmentation and can help reverse sun damage.
  • Salicylic Acid Peel – This peel is perfect for those who suffer from clogged pores and intense acne

Additionally, there are different categories of peels, each with its own benefits and risks. 


A cosmetic doctor applying chemical peels treatment

Superficial Chemical Peels

Superficial peels are good for those who are not looking for drastic or invasive procedures but are still interested in altering their appearance to some extent.

Superficial peels are a great way to achieve a flawless complexion. They are one of the safest ways to exfoliate the skin.

A superficial chemical peel is an excellent treatment for those who have a few specific concerns such as brown spots or acne scars, but it does not provide any noticeable anti-aging benefits.

Superficial or light peels are very safe when used properly but can cause allergic reaction, erythema, increased skin sensitivity, epidermolysis, allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) in rare instances. 

Medium depth chemical peels

Medium depth chemical peels are generally used for surface level skin damage, including fine lines or wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars and sun damage.

Medium-depth chemical peels are often used in patients with moderate to severe facial wrinkling. These peels generally require between 6-10 sessions to be used. The depth of the peel is dependent on the patient’s age and skin type.

For more information on medium depth chemical peel treatments contact your doctor or dermatologist for an appointment. 


Looking for a doctor ideally matched to your unique beauty needs?

Woman having a chemical peel at the beauty salon

Deep Chemical Peels

Deeper peels are done by applying a more concentrated acid to the skin which then peels off thicker pieces of skin as compared to a superficial one. A deep peel will leave an even better result as compared to a superficial one as it will remove all the dead skin cells from the top most layer of skin and provide new cell growth from within.

Deep chemical peels will cause severe swelling and redness, with burning or throbbing sensations. It’s common for the eyelids to swell shut. It will take about two weeks for the new skin to develop, though white spots or cysts may last several weeks. It’s common for redness to last for several months.

What chemical peels can’t do

While chemical peels can help with acne, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation they are not a cure for acne, wrinkles, or acne scars. They can only improve the appearance of these conditions and can’t remove them.

Chemical peels can’t change the structural makeup of the skin. Nor are they a substitute for laser resurfacing.

Will my insurance cover the cost?

Unfortunately not. Chemical peels are typically considered a cosmetic procedure. However, if you have severe acne scars or wrinkles that need treatment, then your insurance might cover the cost of the procedure.

As with any procedure, it’s wise to check with your specific insurance company to see what your coverage options are-

How much will a chemical peel cost?

The cost of a chemical peel is determined by many factors including how many treatments are needed, what type of peel is used, the depth of the peel, and whether or not anesthesia is required. The average cost for an at-home peel ranges from $25 to $75 per treatment. A professional peel ranges anywhere from $150 to $600 per treatment depending on depth and type of peel used.

This is one of the most affordable treatments available to you which will help you to look your best without too much effort. 

The cost for chemical peel will differ depending on the country and the location. The average cost for a chemical peel in Europe is around $300-350.

How to find the right aesthetic professional 

The right cosmetic doctor or dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your chemical peel. Here are the steps to find a cosmetic doctor who is a good fit:

  1. Do a google search for certified dermatologists in your area, and filter for doctors with specific areas of expertise
  2. Read reviews and ask people you know whether they have any experience with any doctors you are considering.
  3. Go to your first appointment with questions prepared: Do they accept your insurance? Do they have an understanding of your skin type?
  4. Listen to what your gut tells you about how likely you are to develop a good doctor-patient relationship with this doctor.

If all that seems too much, why not simply let Caarisma match you with dermatologists who specialise in your skin type? If you’re not sure which skin type you have or which chemical peel type you need, you can use Caarisma’s science-based, medically-sound facial scan to find out.

Caarisma offers personalised Skin care and wellness tips to help you look and feel your best.


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