Are Chemical Peels Good for Your Skin?


Chemical peels have been in vogue as an advanced beauty treatment since ancient times.  It was performed in ancient Roman, Grecian and Egyptian times for people to achieve a smoother and beautiful complexion. Today, chemical peels have become the fastest and most effective way to a glowing complexion by reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and scarring caused by acne. The results of chemical peels are almost instantaneous. But before rushing into a spa in the next 15 minutes, it’s important to understand the different types of chemical peels and potential risks to decide which one is best for your skin.

How do chemical peels work?

Chemical peel treatments involve the application of a variety of chemicals that are derived from vinegar, sugar and fruits on to the skin surface so that they burn off the dead cells that form on the outer layer of the skin.  These treatments can be done at home but can lead to scaring or burns if not applied properly. The best way to administer chemical peels is through a qualified dermatologist who first determines your skin type, degree of skin imperfection and skin sensitivity and then administers a chemical peel treatment best suited for you.

While chemical peels are a great way to get a beautiful complexion and will remarkably improve the overall appearance and skin texture of your face they do not include the following:

  • Cure severely damaged skin
  • Act as face lifts
  • Reduce the appearance of surface blood vessels
  • Reduce the pore size of your skin though in some cases pore size does improve over a period of time
  • Eliminate unusual scars such as keloids

Types of chemical peels

Chemical peels can be broadly classified into three basic categories. However, these peels should be selected with professional guidance keeping your skin requirements and needs in mind.

  • AHA Peels: These chemical peels, often referred to as the “lunch time peels” are mild in nature, can be used on almost all skin types and do not take more than 20 to 30 minutes of your time. AHA or Alpha Hydroxy Acid peels constitute of glycolic acid, lactic acid or fruit acid peels. These peels gently dissolve the topmost layer of the dead cells present on the outer surface of the skin and reveal a smoother and brighter complexion. Fine lines, age spots and dry patches on the face are very effectively dealt with by AHA peels. Glycolic peels also promote the growth of collagen. Collagen helps in retaining skin structure and fight fine lines and wrinkles caused by prolonged sun exposure or ageing. A lot of spas offer this option, the cost is not very high either – during New York Spa Week for example, a few spas offer $50 AHA peels, a good chance to try it out!
  • TCA Peels: TCA or Trichloacetic Acid Peels are medium intensity peels that reach a little further into the skin than AHA peels. The results of these peels therefore, are stronger as it acts more like a skin resurfacing treatment. This chemical peel is also suitable for all skin types and also works on dark toned skin. By penetrating deeper into the skin surface and removing the dead skin cells, this chemical peel uncovers the new and unblemished underlying skin. Fine lines, age spots, minor skin discolorations, skin pigmentation are taken care of by the TCA peel revealing a vibrant, soft and glowing complexion. In order to achieve dramatic and longer lasting results, more than one TCA treatment might be required. These treatments too, do not take long and can be completed within a span of 30 minutes. The follow up treatments are normally spaced out between two to three months of the initial procedure. The recovery time for this peel is slightly longer. Skin redness, swelling or irritation can take place immediately after the procedure. Soon after the skin begins to tighten and darken and finally peels revealing the new tighter and youthful looking skin.
  • Phenol Peels: Phenol peels are the strongest of all the chemical peels. These peels use strong chemical solutions and penetrate deep within the skin reaching to the epidermal layer of the skin. This treatment is very effective to reduce deep and coarse wrinkles, skin damage caused by sun exposure and ageing and is even effective is treating marks left by pre cancerous growths.

Side Effects of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are considered to be very safe when performed by an experienced hand. Some side effects that you might notice after an AHA or TCA chemical peel procedure are skin redness, crusting or stinging. These symptoms usually subside within a couple of days. But deep peels such as the Phenol peels can have adverse side effects such as skin infection, scarring or even pigmentation problems. The recovery time for Phenol peels are also substantially higher. However, when these procedures are performed by a specialist then these risks are significantly reduced.

Have you ever done a chemical peel? How was your experience?

  • John Tubbs

    Very interesting post! Chemical peel is really an effective procedure. It makes our skin look more beautiful and attractive.

  • David

    Well said! Very informative article. Thank you!!

    – David, Boca Facial Fitness