POSTED: 22 Jun 2017


Chemical skin peels are treatments which use a solution to remove the dead layers of skin in order to unveil newer, younger and healthier skin underneath. Peels are great for targeting lines, wrinkles and rough skin as well as acne, inflammation, uneven tone and scarring. In this post, we will go through the different types of chemical skin peels available, which skin conditions are most responsive to peels and what the process involves.

How do chemical skin peels work?

As we’ve previously written, chemical skin peels are preparations which reaction that results in removing the layers of dead skin on the surface. The depth of the layer of skin reached by the peel depends on the type of chemical peel and its strength. By removing the layers of dead skin, chemical peel speed up the cell turnover process. This encourages the growth of new skin cells and stimulates collagen production. As a result, the newly unveiled skin has less evidence of ageing, wrinkles, sun damage, scarring and pigmentation.

Which skin problems can you treat with chemical skin peels?

The most common reasons people have chemical skin peels include lines and wrinkles, acne, uneven pigmentation, sun-damage, scarring and rough textured skin. Peels can treat the signs of ageing skin by giving smoother, softer and brighter skin. They can also be used to treat hypo or hyperpigmentation to give a more even skin complexion. Acne sufferers and those with spots, breakouts and clogged pores can benefit from chemical peels also. Peels can control and prevent outbreaks, reduce inflammation and clear as well as reduce the size of pores.

 What type of chemical skin peels are available?

Chemical peels can be broadly split up into superficial and deeper peels. Superficial peels like our skin refresher chemical peel are low strength peels which exfoliate away dead skin cells to unveil healthy new skin underneath. Since they only affect the very top surface of skin, they are not associated with any peeling or down time. They are great for rescuing a tired lack-lustre complexion but do not act on deep lines, wrinkles or major skin problems. The most commonly used superficial peels include low strength glycolic peels (20-40%) as well as citric and mandelic peels.

Higher strength glycolic, TCA and Jessner’s peels act on the deeper keratinised layers of the skin. The glycolic acid chemical peels range is highly exfoliating and resurface ageing skin to renew and rejuvenate it. They can be combined with a mandelic or citric chemical peel to enhance their wrinkle smoothing, clarifying, brightening and sun-damage healing effects.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels can also penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to resurface and rejuvenate ageing skin. This type of chemical peel is great for improving skin discolouration and blemishes, reducing fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing skin texture.

The Jessner peel is excellent at targeting oily and acne-prone skin. It also reduces the appearance of large pores, acne scarring, sun damage, discolouration and moderate wrinkles. Similarly, the Salicylic peel is also effective for mild to severe acne. It cleanses pores, decongests follicles, reduces inflammation and targets blemishes.

What does the treatment involve?

Chemical peel treatment should always start with a thorough consultation with your doctor. They can assess what type of treatment you need and ensure that its appropriate for your skin type. The treatment begins with cleansing the skin and using a skin prep to remove any oils from the skin. The peel will then be applied to your skin with gauze, a brush or cotton pad. It can be layered with the same type of peel or a different peel for synergy.

The peel is then left to work on your skin for a period of time determined by your doctor. This depends on the type of peel (e.g. glycolic acid peels can be left for a maximum of 5 minutes usually) and how your skin reacts to the peel. After that, the chemical peel is then neutralised to stop it working. Some peels self-neutralise and may be left on the skin for a few hours before removing.

Is there any downtime?

There is no downtime associated with superficial chemical peels like the low strength citric, mandelic and glycolic peels. As a result, these peels can be used as a quick “pick-me-up” for skin or as part of advanced clinical facials to give an instantly radiant dewy-looking skin. Deeper chemical peels like higher strength glycolic peels, Jessner’s and TCA peels are able to penetrate further into the skin. Hence the results are more impressive. The downside is that you may experience ongoing peeling for up to a week until the final result is visible.

Chemical peels can be a really effective treatment for ageing, scarred, acne prone or hyper/hypopigmented skin. These treatments can enhance the health and quality of your skin when performed by a trained doctor. Check out our chemical peels page for more information on how peels work, the conditions they treat and type of peels we provide. Also have a peek at our aesthetic treatments pages for more information about our bespoke skin treatments, anti-ageing injections and dermal fillers. If you’re not quite ready for a clinical peel, have a peek at our DIY peels guide for homemade natural peels that you can try.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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