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How Do Chemical Peels Work?

How Do Chemical Peels Work?

Chemical peels are an effective and less expensive alternative to laser facials to renew and refresh the skin. Since there are different levels of treatments, how do chemical peels work and which one is right for you?

What Is A Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that rejuvenates and brightens the skin, by removing dead skin cells from the surface and exposing new skin cells below. This leaves your skin smoother, tighter and more vibrant.

Chemical peels can be used to treat a range of skin concerns including fine lines, wrinkles, uneven tones, irregular texture, acne scars and pigmentation. Peels are primarily used as an anti-aging treatment to promote healthy looking skin.

How Do Chemical Peels Work?

A chemical solution is applied to the skin and allowed to soak in. The solution softens the dead skin cells so they are easy to exfoliate. The skin cells slough off over the following days (the duration depends on the strength of the peel), and forces fresher, softer skin to the surface.

Chemical peels take an average of 20 minutes to perform. A course of 4-6 peels spaced 4 weeks apart is usually recommended for optimal results.

Some of the active ingredients used in chemical peels include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and lactic acid. These ingredients are used alone or in combination, depending on the strength of the peel.

Types of Chemical Peels

There are three levels of peels: superficial, medium, and deep. There vary based on the level of penetration.

  • Superficial peels remove the outermost layer of the skin, and require no real downtime. These are refreshing peels and are generally not painful, but patients may feel a slight tingling sensation during treatment. Superficial peels are typically used to treat fine lines, wrinkles and to even out skin tones.
  • Medium peels use stronger solutions penetrating further into the skin. This type of peel is usually good for fine lines, acne, and sun damage. Medium grade peels are generally done using TCA.
  • Deep peels are aggressive and penetrate down to the deeper parts of the dermal layer. Deep peels provide dramatic skin rejuvenation results, but can take up to 2 weeks to recover from.

Which Chemical Peel Is Right For Me?

The chemical peel that’s right for you will depend on the specific skin concerns you need treated, the color and texture of your skin, and the desired results. It is best to have a consultation, so your dermatologist can properly evaluate the condition of your skin and recommend the most appropriate level of peel for you.


To learn more about how it feels to do a chemical peel, click here:

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One thought on “How Do Chemical Peels Work?


    This looks to me like a great introduction to how chemical peels and how they work, but I also agree it’s essential to sit down with a dermatologist and have an honest conversation about what your goals and concerns are. I remember I had a lot of misconceptions about chemical peels when it was first recommended to me. 

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