Chemical Peels Guide: Types, Benefits, Side Effects, and More

What are chemical peels?

Chemical peels are an effective treatment for correcting many skin imperfections, leaving patients with smoother, brighter, younger looking skin. This cosmetic procedure involves the application of an acid solution to the skin, usually on the face, to help remove damaged and dead skin cells on the very topmost layer of the dermis. Once these cells are removed, a process of cell turnover reveals younger, fresher skin cells that are free of skin imperfections such as wrinkles, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and more. Chemical peels, which are also sometimes referred to simply as facial peels, typically use alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), or phenol in the formulation that helps patients look younger and more refreshed.

Are chemical peels safe for the skin?

Chemical peels are safe for the skin so long as they are being applied by a professional who is aware of the patient’s medical history and skin type. Not every chemical peel is suitable for every skin type, and many peeling solutions come with a list of contraindications. While most patients will have no issue receiving a chemical peel, it is not advised for individuals who have a history of heart disease, recurring cold sores or blisters, or a tendency to scar easily. The number 1 way to ensure a safe chemical peel is to have the peel applied by a skilled professional.

Can acne scars be treated by chemical peeling?

Many skin imperfections can be treated through chemical peeling, including the treatment of some types of acne and acne scars. The process of cell turnover trigger by the chemical peel removes the damaged cells that cause the appearance of scars on the skin.

What causes dark spots on skin?

Dark spots on the skin, also sometimes called age spots, are caused by an excess of melanin in that particular spot. Melanin is a skin pigment, and though doctors aren’t able to pinpoint an exact reason for this excess, these dark spots typically develop or worsen due to aging, sun exposure, or ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

Can chemical peels make acne scars worse?

When starting chemical peel treatments to get rid of acne scars, it is possible that the scars will appear worse at first. This happens because the more superficial, smoother layer of skin on top of the scars is being removed, revealing the true damage below. However, with continued peel treatments, acne scars will be reduced, and there is no risk of making these scars worse in the long-term.

What are the best ways of keeping your face looking young?

Preventative skincare is also the most ideal way to keep your face looking young. This includes having a healthy diet and skincare routine, and most importantly applying sunblock. However, if your skin is already showing signs of age and other damage, regular chemical peels are a great way to restore your skin to a youthful, healthier appearance.

How to get rid of neck lines/wrinkles?

Though many people may believe that chemical peels are only suitable for the face, they can actually also be used to help reduce the appearance of neck lines and wrinkles in the neck. In fact, it is better to have your neck treated as well as your face so that there is no awkward demarcation showing the smoother treated skin of the face, and untreated, damaged skin of the neck.

Types of chemical peels

There are typically 3 different types of depth to chemical peels that are used to treat different skin issues depending on how deep down into the dermis the issue originates. These depths are: superficial/light peels; medium depth peels; and deep peels. Light peels are best for superficial skin issues for a revitalizing effect, while medium depth peels are best for slightly more severe issues such as sun damage and fine lines and wrinkles. Deep peels have the strongest chemical component and are suitable for the deepest scarring and lines. Chemical peels also different by the types of peeling agents used, which include: glycolic acid; salicylic acid; lactic acid; fruit enzymes; tartaric acid; malic acid; trichloroacetic acid (TCA); and carbolic acid.

Does chemical peeling have any side effects?

There are virtually no adverse effects associated with light chemical peels, though hyperpigmentation is possible after treatment if proper sun care practices are not adhered to. An expected side effect to chemical peels is, as the id suggests, flakiness and peeling of the skin. Mild irritation and redness may also occur, particularly with medium peels. Though very rare, there are more side effects and risks associated with deep peels, including scarring, hypopigmentation (loss of pigment), hyperpigmentation, or chemical burns. It is very important, particularly with deep chemical peels, to have the peel performed by a skilled professional, as this helps decrease the risk of adverse effects.

Does it cause long-term skin damage?

If performed properly by a skilled professional, chemical peels will not cause any permanent skin damage. However, it is important to remember that the ingredients are typically acids and are capable of causing damage, such as scarring or burns if not administered properly. To avoid damaging the skin, be sure not to receive peels too often, and to let the skin heal properly, which includes taking care of the skin as directed. This includes moisturizing the skin properly and always applying sunblock with the proper SPF after treatment. Additionally, only a professional should ever administer deep peels, as their increased strengths has added risk if applied improperly.


Chemical peels are a perfectly safe and effective treatment to help the skin look healthier and younger. They are able to treat many skin issues that are otherwise difficult to correct or improve. However, there are many different types of peels available, and receiving treatment from a professional is the best and safest way to ensure that the proper peeling solution will be chosen to suit the skin type and damage. Consult with a professional today if you’re interested in what chemical peel will be able to get your skin back to looking radiant and healthy.

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Disclaimer: These articles, and any views and opinions expressed, are not endorsed by Raskel Medical. The articles are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice. Raskel Medical does not check or edit the content of these articles for medical accuracy. Contact your medical practitioner for any medical advice needed.