Chemical peels are a technique used to improve the appearance of skin, most often on the face, neck, and/or hands. The peel involves a chemical exfoliator solution, which is applied to the skin and eventually peeled off. Chemical peels leave the skin smoother, less wrinkled, and more evenly toned than before, as they help to remove damaged skin cells. While the skin may be temporarily more sensitive to the sun, chemical peels have minimal recovery time or recommended aftercare.

This treatment has several applications. There are chemical peels for acne, peels for restoring even skin tone, and peels for oily or dehydrated skin. The type of peel you receive will depend on the type of acid used as an exfoliator. The most common include:

  • Citric acid, which is used for mild acne, pigmentation, clogged pores, and wrinkles
  • Lactic acid, which is used for hyperpigmentation and age spots
  • Glycolic acid, which is used for brightening skin and improving complexion
  • Salicylic acid, which is used for mild to severe acne and clogged pores

All of these acids are all safe, mild ingredients, but patients should consult an esthetician or dermatologist prior to receiving a peel. Only a professional can make an appropriate product recommendation based on your skin type and problem.


What to Expect During a Chemical Peel

Before a peel, a licensed esthetician will discuss your skin type and needs, then recommend the appropriate product. They will cleanse your skin to remove any surface dirt and oil, then apply the solution to the treatment area, typically the face, neck, chest, and/or arms. They will leave the peel on your skin for a predetermined amount of time, typically around 15 minutes, then remove the product. A high-quality moisturizer is then applied to help reduce potential swelling and redness.

Depending on the recommended peel and your skin type, the treatment may feel uncomfortable when the peel is initially applied. However, this slight prickling will subside once the product is removed. Patients may experience mild redness and swelling directly following the treatment, but there is no required aftercare or recovery time. While peels are cosmetic treatments, most patients say the experience is relaxing.


Are Chemical Peels Safe?

The strength of chemical peels can be difficult to measure, especially for at-home treatments purchased at a pharmacy. It is important that a licensed esthetician or dermatologist discuss your needs to recommend the appropriate peel, then apply the product safely. To prevent damage or potential side effects, chemical peel treatments should only be provided by a licensed professional.

If you’re curious about how a chemical peel treatment can improve your skin, contact us to schedule an appointment or virtual visit. Our medically trained staff can recommend the best peel for your skin and apply it in a safe, medical environment, ensuring only the best possible results. These peels and their ingredients are safe, but they should be provided only by a medical professional, such as those at West County Dermatology.


*Results may vary per patient.