What are Chemical Peels & How Do They Work?

What is a Chemical Peel? 

A chemical peel is a skin treatment that can reduce the appearance of acne, scarring, wrinkles, sun damage, and spots. 

Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that involve using acids to exfoliate the skin and remove a significant number of damaged skin cells across the treatment area. When chemical peels are performed appropriately, this allows the skin to heal and renew itself.

Most chemical peels can only be used by Dermatologists; however, nowadays, there is a wide range of safe products that can be used at home. Before using a chemical peel, remember always to seek correct guidance from a Doctor or a Dermatologist.

Chemical peel explained by Dr. Reena Rupani

Uses of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels can be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, or to address other skin problems like the ones listed below:

  • Acne
  • Enlarged pores
  • Scarring
  • Redness
  • Rosacea
  • Hyperpigmentation

Types of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels come in various depths and strengths. Mainly, there are three types of chemical peel. Each type is used based on how deeply it exfoliates the skin and the desirable result:

  • Superficial peels
  • Medium-depth peels
  • Deep peels

The correct choice depends on the type and shade of a person’s skin and what issue the skin has.

How Do Chemical Peels Work?

Chemical peels work with the help of acids within the peel that raise the skin’s acidity to around a 3.8 pH level. Usually, the skin has a pH of approximately 5.5, and changing the pH level chemically loosens the cells that form the “glue” between dead skin and healthy skin. With that bond chemically reduced, exfoliation occurs as dead skin is removed to reveal healthy skin underneath. This process promotes the growth of new, healthy skin cells.

Types of Chemical Peel Ingredients?

In terms of ingredients, there are many different options to choose from depending on your skinskin’sds. The most common are listed below:

· Enzyme peels:

Enzyme peels are composed of fruit enzymes. This is the lightest type of peels as it is considered a “Natural” option because it is a fruit derivative. 

· Mandelic acid:

Mandelic acid is derived from bitter almonds. It’san AHA that’s been mostly used for acne.

· Lactic acid:

Lactic acid is another type of ingredient that is considered lightweight and gentle. It smooths skin, helps with minor wrinkles, and is better than glycolic acid in treating hyperpigmentation.

· Salicylic acid:

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It’s well-known for reducing acne by exfoliating the skin and keeping pores clear.

· Glycolic acid:

Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is derived from sugar cane. It is one of the most well-known and widely used alpha-hydroxy acids in the skincare industry.

· TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid):

TCA is a medium-strength peel, and the strongest of the ingredients listed above. In most cases, TCA peels should only be applied by a certified skincare professional. This peel is good for sun damage, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, stretch marks, and scars.

How to Care for Your Skin after a Chemical Peel?

Depending on your skin’s sensitivity and the type of peel you use, you may feel tingling, burning, itching, dryness, redness or tightness after your peel treatment, and see peeling or flaking within a few days.

A correct post-peel skincare can help minimize any sensations or visible side effects of a peel. Make sure you follow these basic steps after a chemical peel.

  • Wash your face with cold water for the first days. 
  • Moisturize and hydrate your skin using alcohol-free products. 
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF30 or more. 
  • Avoid workouts, saunas and steam rooms.
  • Don’t exfoliate.
  • Strictly avoid sun exposure for the first 2 weeks.
  • Avoid using skincare products that contain retinol.

Do Chemical Peels Really Make A Difference?

Dalia Bassam

Dalia is an experienced makeup artist and a skincare expert that owned different high-end beauty centres in some of Europe's sought-after countries, such as Switzerland, Spain, and France. One of Dalia's goals is to share her knowledge with her audience to help them get all the information they need while getting inspired.