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Chemical peels are making a big comeback. While laser resurfacing, vampire facials, and dermal fillers have eclipsed traditional cosmetic treatments over the last decade, chemical peels are now more popular than they were back in 1997, when peels were the most performed cosmetic treatment in the U.S.

A peel can be a super-effective treatment for sun-damaged skin, acne scarring, wrinkles, and other visible signs of aging. If you’re thinking about getting a medical-grade chemical peel, here’s everything you need to know about the procedure. 

What Is a Medical-Grade Chemical Peel?

A medical-grade chemical peel is a cosmetic exfoliation procedure to improve skin texture, tone, condition, and softness. A trained practitioner will evenly apply chemical solutions to your skin which will cause the skin to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new skin underneath is smoother, firmer, and younger-looking. 

What Are the Results?

Regular skin peels are clinically proven to help treat various forms of acne, minimize the appearance of pores, mild scarring, melasma, and age spots. The peel can improve pigmentation issues from sun damage and age spots and diminish fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes and mouth. In addition, the peel will give your skin an immediate boost of radiance. 

The Different Types of Medical-Grade Chemical Peels

There are various strengths of chemical peels. Superficial peels penetrate the outermost layer of the skin for gentle exfoliation. A deep peel will fully reach the middle layer of your skin by using phenol or trichloroacetic acid. 

The chemical peel offerings might seem a little overwhelming at first, and it is best to discuss your treatment plan with your practitioner so that they can make recommendations based on your skin type and the problem areas you would like to address. 

Light Peel

Your physician will apply the salicylic acid to your skin with cotton wool, some gauze, or a brush. Over time, your skin will start to turn white; you may experience a slight stinging sensation, which is entirely normal. Once complete, they will add a neutralizing solution and wipe your face clean. 

Medium Peel

A medium peel, or Jessner peel, is a combination of Salicylic acid and resorcinol. The peel penetrates to a deeper layer than a light or superficial peel, and is effective for more stubborn skin concerns and visible signs of aging. 

Deep Peel

The deep peel is the most invasive of the three treatments. After your skin is cleaned, your physician will brush phenol onto your face in 15-minute intervals to limit the acid exposure to your skin. Finally, the phenol is neutralized with water. After the treatment, a thick healing ointment is smoothed over your skin to prevent dryness and pain.

What Happens After the Treatment?

Depending on the type of chemical peel you have, a similar reaction to sunburn will likely occur following the treatment. Your skin will probably be a little red and can start to look scaly for up to a week after the procedure.

If you’ve had a medium or deep peel, you might notice swelling and some blisters that might break, dry, and peel off for up to 14-days. Mild peels can be repeated at four-weekly intervals and medium or deep peels between six months to a year. 

Your skin will be temporarily more sensitive to the sun and its UVB and UVA rays. Therefore, it is essential that you apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen to your skin every day to avoid sun damage.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some skin types are more prone to developing temporary or permanent color changes after a chemical peel. Contraception pills or pregnancy might make it more likely. However, there is a low risk of scarring. If you suffer from cold sores, the chemical peel might activate an outbreak. It’s important to choose a professional skin clinic with experienced practitioners to reduce the risks of any complications. 


A medical-grade chemical peel is another weapon to add to your existing skincare armory. It can address the trickier skin problems you may have. You’ll look visibly more radiant, brighter, and even-toned within just a week or so. Skin blemishes will be reduced, fine lines and wrinkles will be banished, and pores will be refined to give you a gloriously youthful glow.

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