Chemical Peels

One thing I am a bit obsessed with is skin care. I'm always trying to find out how to get rid of acne and scarring, and improve skin texture and overall complexion. Medicated face washes can help. Face washes containing salicyclic acid, glycolic acid, etc. are great, but they need to stay on the skin longer than just a few seconds to really get results. So how can we get a beautiful glowing complexion? Well besides having a good skin care regimen of washing and moisturizing, and drinking plenty of water, there are some other things we can do. Recently I have been experimenting with chemical peels including salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid.

Now here is my disclaimer: These peels are best done by a medical professional. There are risks, which include severe burning and scarring.

Also to keep in mind, anyone who meets any of the following criteria is NOT a candidate (Taken from American Society of Dermatologic Surgery):

  • Nursing or pregnant.
  • Have taken Accutane in last six months.
  • Have psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea.
  • Have used Retin-A, Renova, prescription skin care products, products that contain ascorbic acid, bleaching or skin-lightening agents or other acid-based products in the last 48 hours.
  • Individuals with infections, active skin disease, cut or broken skin, sunburns or active Herpes simplex 1 sores.

So how does a chemical peel improve skin appearance? It penetrates the outermost layer of the skin to remove dead skin cells. In its place fresh, new skin will be revealed. 


I did a LOT of research prior to beginning these peels at home, and I recommend you do too if you consider it! Like I said, these are best done by a medical professional. To really see results, typically you will need more than one treatment and they must be spaced apart to allow the skin time to heal and regenerate. 

A common misconception is that your face will be red as a lobster after a peel, or that your skin will always literally peel off. This is true for certain peels, but there are superficial peels that work more at a microscopic level. The fact that it doesn't peel doesn't mean it's not working. I personally don't have the downtime for a deeper peel that will cause my skin to shed off, but I definitely see results when I do a superficial peel a few times a month. 

Here is some more information regarding different strengths of chemical peels, also taken from ASDPS:

Superficial or lunchtime peel: Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of skin to gently exfoliate it. The treatment is used to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin as well as to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.

Medium peel: Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outer and middle layers of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment is used to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat some precancerous skin growths, i.e. actinic keratosis.

Deep peel: Tricholoracetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. Patients will see a dramatic improvement in skin appearance. The procedure is used on the face and only can be performed once.

Deep peels ALWAYS need to be done by a medical professional. 

I have no before and after pictures since I have been alternating salicylic acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid peels for about a year now. If I can find a good before picture I will definitely post before and after! Please feel free to comment with your experience either at your dermatologist's office/med spa or at home!