Types Of Chemical Peels – Which Chemical Peel is Right for You?

Types Of Chemical Peels – Which Chemical Peel is Right for You?

Exfoliation is an important step in any skincare regimen. This allows new cells to rise to the surface, creating a radiant glow. Exfoliating your skin can improve its texture and elasticity. It can also reduce wrinkles or other signs of aging.

Physical exfoliation, which uses microbeads to scrub the skin’s surface, is the most common form of home exfoliation. Although this exfoliation is not as effective as chemical peels or exfoliants, it can be very effective.

A licensed esthetician, dermatologist, or professional can perform chemical peels. You can use homemade chemical exfoliants, but you could still damage your skin if the routine isn’t followed.

Chemical peels are a great way to treat skin conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. Depending on your needs, you can find a chemical peel that suits your skin type and at different intensities.

What are the different types of chemical peels? There are three types of chemical peels. Chemical peels are categorized according to their intensity, and each uses a different chemical exfoliant. To find the right peel for you, it is always best to consult a derm.

Continue reading to learn all you can about chemical peels and their benefits.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a service that exfoliates the skin. It can be provided at a spa, dermatologist’s office, or clinic. To remove dead skin cells and bring new skin cells to the skin’s surface, they use either a chemical or exfoliant.

Chemical peels can be used to treat discoloration and signs of aging. There are three types, each with its intensity.

These professional skincare treatments are performed by licensed dermatologists or specialists in the field of chemical peels. These professionals will help you determine which chemical peel or solution is best for your skin.

Chemical peels can be highly intense so it is important to have a supportive skincare routine before and after the procedure.

Different types of chemical peels

There are three types of chemical peels: light/superficial (or superficial) and medium (or deep). Light peels are the most popular because they don’t require as many invasive procedures and can be used on any skin type.

Deep and medium peels are more severe because they go beyond the outermost layer of skin. They can require downtime and recovery. These peels can be more severe, so your provider will help you with proper preparation and aftercare.

1. Light Peels / Superficial Peels

There are many names for light peels. Because they require minimal to no recovery, they are also called superficial peels or lunchtime skin peels.

Because it removes only the outermost layer of skin, they are the most popular and well-known type.

Light peels can also be repeated for a set period to see the results. The frequency of chemical peels will depend on how often you visit a licensed dermatologist or skin specialist. A supportive aftercare program will be required.

Light Peels Process

What chemical solution is used for a light peel? It will depend on the needs of your skin and your provider.

Light peels can be used with mild exfoliating products. It requires minimal downtime and is not as severe as deep or medium peels.

It’s common to use light peels with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, (AHAs), and Beta Hydroxy Acids, (BHAs). Many skincare brands make these chemical exfoliants available over-the-counter in their serums.

Pros & Cons Of Light Peels

After a few sessions, light peels can reduce signs of aging. Light peels can also be used to treat mild signs such as fine lines, minimal discoloration or other skin problems.

Light peels are also a good way to reduce oil production and treat mild cases of acne.

To penetrate deeper, other superficial peels may be combined with a retinoid. This is something you should discuss with your provider. They can assess your skin’s needs.


As we’ve already mentioned, a light peel requires little to no recovery time or downtime.

Your skin will usually return to its original state within a few hours or seven working days. You can take care of your skin at home and there are no follow up visits.

It is mandatory that you apply sunscreen every day. Chemical peels can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and lead to skin problems.

2. Medium Peels

Medium peels can be more intense than light ones because they remove the skin’s outermost layers. These peels also treat severe skin conditions such as sun damage, discoloration, aging, and acne.

You may experience reddening or swelling after a medium peel. Your provider may recommend specific creams to speed up the healing process. Medium peels should not be repeated as often as light ones.

Medium Peels Process

Medium peels employ trichloroacetic acid or glycolic acid to reach both the middle and outer layers of the skin. This makes it more efficient to remove skin cells that are damaged.

This chemical solution should be left to sit for at least a few minutes before being removed.

Medium peels are deeper than light ones and reach the middle layer. Medium peels are great for wrinkles, scarring, and discoloration that have settled deeper into the skin.

Pros & Cons Of Medium Peels

Medium peels can correct uneven skin tones and moderate sun damage. They can also target scarring or deep wrinkles left over from acne.

There will be a period of recovery, and you might need to avoid the sun for a while.


A medium peel takes one to two weeks on average. You will likely need to follow stricter aftercare instructions or use topical creams to aid healing.

Your provider might recommend you to come in for a follow up appointment.

3. Deep Peels

Deep peels are the most invasive and intense chemical peels. They are typically only done once. Deep peels can also require that you are sedated and undergo a lengthy healing process.

Medium or light peels are not as effective for severe cases. Deep peels can be used to treat similar concerns.

Deep Peels Process

To remove damaged skin cells, deep peels penetrate the skin’s middle layer. These peels use phenol and trichloroacetic acids.

You may have moderate wrinkles and sun damage to your skin.

Pros & Cons Of Deep Peels

Deep peels are not taken lightly and can prove more dangerous than light or medium peels. Deep peels are used to treat severe cases such as scarring, discoloration, aging, and Actinic Keratosis.

It may take several months to heal from the peel fully.


The healing time takes 14-21 days. The area will be treated with bandage. Avoid the sun for at least 3-6 months. Follow-up visits may be required within the first week.

Because deep peels are used to treat severe skin concerns or issues, they require a long recovery period.

Benefits Of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are more effective than home products at improving skin texture. They also have many benefits that can help you achieve a radiant, youthful and even skin tone. It can be used to treat acne and aging.

You will notice a smoother, brighter complexion and less fine lines. Chemical peels are also available to treat wrinkles, melasma, and sun-damaged skin.

A chemical peel can improve the skin’s elasticity and radiance and protect it from future damage. Your aftercare routine will determine your results.

Side Effects Of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels, like any other cosmetic procedure, can pose risks.

Redness, swelling, and dryness are minor side effects. You can minimize or treat these side effects by using sunscreen daily. Sunscreen will also ensure that you get the maximum benefits from your skincare treatment.

Scarring and lightening the skin’s tone are two more severe side effects. These side effects can be exacerbated by chemical peels that make you vulnerable to the sun.

Which Chemical Peel is Right for You?

How can you determine which chemical peel is best for you? Consult a licensed dermatologist to determine the best chemical peel for you.

Only these professionals should perform chemical peels. The application of a chemical peel can also hinder the results.

Consultations are essential before undergoing a chemical peel. Your doctor will assess your skin and determine your specific needs. Many factors, such as skin type, age, skin tone, and skin color, can influence which peel is best for you.

Skin Types & Needs

Consultations are crucial as they help determine the right chemical peel for your skin. A light peel with an AHA could be beneficial if you are experiencing dry or minor signs of aging.

If you suffer from scarring or acne, you might consider a BHA light peel.

If you and your doctor agree that your skin problems are more serious, they might offer a medium peel to remove the skin’s outermost layer.


Chemical peels may improve your skin’s tone. However, each person is different. A chemical peel can cause discoloration, lightning, or scarring in those with darker complexions. Another reason to consult a dermatologist is that this can lead to discoloration, lightening, or scarring from a chemical peel.

We also mentioned scarring as a possible side effect of chemical skin peels. To achieve radiant skin and even skin tone, it is important to consider your skin’s color.

How Often Do You Need A Chemical Peel?

The frequency you have a chemical peel will affect the type of peel you choose or how often your provider recommends.

Additionally, the recovery time and procedures for light, medium, and deep peels can vary, affecting how often they are performed.

Light peels are the gentlest and most popular type of chemical skin peel. Light or superficial peels can be repeated because they only affect the outermost layers of the skin. A light peel will require multiple sessions to achieve the best results.

When needed, medium and deep peels can be performed. They are, however, more painful than a light one. Deep peels can only be done once. These peels require a longer healing and recovery time.

What are the best times to see results?

Many factors can affect your results. Many factors can affect your results, including the type of chemical peel you receive, how often you have it done, who your provider is, and what your aftercare routine looks like. It can also depend on how frequently you have a chemical peel.

You can see results in 3-5 sessions with superficial peels. These sessions can be scheduled several weeks apart, depending on your doctor’s recommendations. Results from medium and deep peels may take longer.

Who should avoid chemical peels?

Chemical peels are not for everyone. If you are taking oral acne medication, have a history of ridged skin due to scar tissue overgrowth, or have had frequent cold sores, your doctor may advise against a chemical treatment.

A chemical peel can be beneficial for people of color. It is essential to consult a dermatologist who is experienced in avoiding pigmentation issues and side effects after a chemical skin peel.

How to Prepare for a Chemical Peel

Aftercare is an important step after a chemical peel. This is something that most people are familiar with. Your skin preparation is important before you apply a chemical peel.

Most cases, your dermatologist will recommend the correct routine before performing a chemical peel.

Your doctor may advise you to take antiviral medication and use a retinoid lotion. Also, discontinue using depilatory products for hair removal.

These are only guidelines. Your dermatologist will recommend the best steps for you and your journey to chemical peels.


Chemical peels require maintaining your skin for a long time after the treatment. Chemical peels don’t usually provide lasting results and you’ll need to have a light peel every few months to keep your results.

To preserve your skin’s health and to maximize the results of a chemical peel, you should have a supportive and consistent skin regime.

Doctors may also prescribe a cream to aid in healing or create a complete skincare regimen.

After a peel, you should avoid picking, peeling, or squeezing your skin. Sunscreen must also be used daily as, after a peel, your skin is more sensitive to the sun and can cause signs of aging such as acne.

Chemical peels have many benefits, but they can also pose risks. Light peels can treat acne or signs of aging, while deep or medium peels are for more severe conditions.

Are there different types of chemical peels?

The three major classifications of chemical peel are a light or superficial peel, a medium depth peel, and a deep peel. Within those three major classifications are four common types of peels: Alpha Hydroxy acid peels, Beta Hydroxy acid peels, Trichloroacetic Acid Peels, and Phenol peels.

What is the most gentle chemical peel?

While some of the stronger options on the market can cause irritation, there are chemical peels specifically designed for sensitive skin. Board-certified dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, advises using chemical peels with lactic acid, which is known to be one of the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acids on the market.

What is a Level 3 chemical peel?

Level III: Deep Wrinkle Repair, Severe Sun Damage, Acne Scarring Reduction. The TCA (trichloracetic acid) Level 3 Chemical Peel is a medical-strength peel that provides the most correction of all the chemical peels in one treatment. This chemical peel also has the longest peeling time -up to 7 days.

What are the most common types of chemical peels and why?

Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels (AHA) Also called fruit acid peels, AHA are the most popular types of superficial peels. They are water-soluble, come at various strength levels, and are generally mild. Examples of AHA acids used in chemical peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and mandelic acids.

Which is better TCA or glycolic peel?

Since the TCA peels exfoliate deeper into the dermis than a salicylic acid or glycolic acid peel, they have more potent and longer lasting results. That is why a TCA is typically used for quick treatment of a bad scar or freckles, and to lighten tattoos.

Can you see results after 1 peel?

It usually takes several treatment sessions to see the desired outcomes. Most people notice some improvement after their first chemical peel, but with multiple treatments over the span of several months, patients will be astonished by how much better their skin looks.

How do I choose a chemical peel?

Chemical peels differ in the depth of penetration. For example, if your goal is to simply exfoliate the skin, a light chemical peel will do the trick. If you want to significantly change the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, a problem in the deep layers of the skin, a deeper chemical peel is required.

Which is better chemical peel or microdermabrasion?

If you have active acne, chemical peels are a better choice because microdermabrasion can irritate it or even cause more issues. Chemical peels use salicylic acid to reduce further breakouts by exfoliating the dead skin cells. If you have light wrinkles, microdermabrasion or light chemical peels can help.

Why does my skin look worse after a chemical peel?

A chemical peel can cause treated skin to become darker than normal (hyperpigmentation) or lighter than normal (hypopigmentation). Hyperpigmentation is more common after superficial peels, while hypopigmentation is more common after a deep peel.

What is better VI peel vs perfect peel?

The Perfect Derma Peel is incredibly similar to the Vi Peel, but with one major difference: Glutathione. In fact, The Perfect Derma Peel is the only medical-grade peel that features Glutathione.

What is the best face peel?

The Best At-Home Chemical Peels

  • Best Overall: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.
  • Most Intense Formula: Perfect Image Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel.
  • Targets Acne and Fine Lines: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial.
  • Best Kit: Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel.

How many layers of skin does a chemical peel remove?

two layers Chemical peels can affect two layers of the skin, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the visible outer layer, and the dermis sits just beneath. This deeper layer contains nerve endings, sweat glands, and hair follicles. All chemical peels remove a controlled amount of skin cells from the epidermis.

Which peel is best for hyperpigmentation?

Glycolic acid peels Glycolic acid peels are considered a safe and effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, hyperpigmentation, and photoaging. Medium-strength peels are done by board-certified dermatologists or by licensed cosmetologists or aestheticians.

Which peel is best for skin whitening?

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution While the AHAs (especially glycolic acid) exfoliate the skin surface, the 2% BHA or salicylic acid further burrows inside the pores to erase blemishes from within, revealing overall brighter, more alive skin.

Which chemical peel is best for dark spots?

The superficial peels most frequently used to lighten dark spots are alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acid), beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Glycolic acid (GA) is the most common alpha-hydroxy acid peel and is also known as a fruit peel.

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