What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel sounds like something you shouldn’t necessarily try at home. But more and more people are using this method of deep exfoliation – which uses a concentration of acids and chemicals to slough away dead skin without the rough particles found in physical exfoliants - to deal with a variety of skin issues.
Why do people use chemical peels at home?
Some of the skin situations that a chemical peel can be used to tackle include:
- Dull and lacklustre skin
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Discoloration, dark spots and age spots
- Treatment of acne and unclogging pores
- Improving the appearance of scarring
- Dealing with sun damage
Categories & Types of chemical peel
There are three main categories of chemical peel:
Superficial chemical peels are the most mild and common for an at-home peel, usually using something like glycolic acid.
Medium chemical peels gives a similar effect to a second-degree burn to the skin.
Deep chemical peels are a dermatologist-only treatment that creates second-degree burns (a phenol peel is an example of this) and aren’t suitable for all skin types – they also need significant recovery time.
Within each of these categories, there are different types, strengths and concentrations of chemical peel. Let's talk about some of the more common types of chemical peel:
The lightest type of chemical peel, usually derived from fruit. It doesn’t increase cell turnover like a true acid peel but is more suitable for sensitive skin and won’t make your skin more sensitive to UV.
Used to improve wrinkles, fine lines and skin texture as well as acne and hyper-pigmentation. It doesn’t cause irritation or redness.
A great peel to improve glow, smooth out skin and help with minor wrinkles. It’s more hydrating than other types of acid and works well for hyper-pigmentation and discolouration too.
This type of chemical peel is great at dealing with acne and dissolving skin congestion without making skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. It’s also good for dark spots, hyper-pigmentation, sun damage and fungal acne.
This refreshes skin tone, improves texture, increases skin brightness and collagen production. It also treats hyper-pigmentation an acne. The concentration can vary on this one, so be careful!
A mix of salicylic acid, lactic acid and resorcinol. It’s great for hyper-pigmentation, acne and oily skin but can make dry or sensitive skin even more so.
TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid)
Works well for sun damage, hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, acne scars and stretch marks.
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Is an at-home chemical peel safe?
Incorporating a properly-formulated chemical peel that's designed for use at home (and doesn't cause any visible peeling) is perfectly safe to use at home. You can incorporate them into your skin routine see visible improvements in your skin texture and tone, and specific problems.
If you’re not already hitting the SPF, you definitely need to add this in, as well as avoiding certain ingredients/treatments like retinols, facials and serious anti-ageing products post-peel.
What do you think about at-home chemical peels? Have you ever tried one as part of your skincare routine?
Need some help putting together the best skincare routine for your skin type? Try our skin quiz!