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5 Science-Based Benefits of Chemical Peels That You Shouldn’t Overlook

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Whenever you hear chemical peel, you may frighten up a bit. But you have no reason to. Actually, chemical peels are among the most effective cosmetical treatments, with manifold benefits upon all skincare concerns. The procedure is now easier than ever, whether you want to opt for in-office deeper peels or a superficial one that you can easily do at home. But before going into the benefits of chemical peels, let’s start with the very basics: what is a chemical peel, and what are the types of chemical peels?

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel involves a chemical solution applied to the face and neck to exfoliate the skin’s top layer. In turn, the skin regenerates, revealing a smoother, even, softer complexion. Chemical peels are a popular and effective procedure to revitalize and retexturize the skin, which has myriad instant and long-term benefits.

“Chemical peels are used to create an injury of a specific skin depth with the goal of stimulating new skin growth and improving surface texture and appearance. The exfoliative effect of chemical peels stimulates new epidermal growth and collagen with more evenly distributed melanin.”[1]

Types of chemical peels

The good news is that there are a few types of chemical peels, from gentle to medium and deep peels. So there’s one for everyone, whether you’re a chemical peel starter or you want a deeper exfoliation for dramatic results.

The most common types of chemical peels are AHA peels (including lactic acid and glycolic acid), BHA peels (think salicylic acid), TCA peels, and PHA peels. The difference stays in their strength. Whilst AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs are classified as mild chemical peels, TCA is a medium-depth peel. There are also deep peels, such as Phenol peels or Jessner’s solution, that only a dermatologist or cosmetician can perform.

The benefits of chemical peels

Chemical peels are chocked-full of benefits, targeting most concerns we all struggle with. Now, here’s what chemical peels can do to your skin. 

Tackle acne

Due to their exfoliating power, chemical peels help shed away dead cell buildup and excess oil — the main culprits that lead to acne. By hindering sebum and dead cells from clogging the pores, chemical peels diminish breakouts apparition. The best chemical peel for oily skin and to tackle acne is one that contains salicylic acid. Since it’s oil-soluble, a salicylic acid peel can sink into the skin where it balances sebum, while its keratolytic properties allow dissolving dead cells buildup on the skin’s surface to reveal softer and smoother skin.[2]

Shrinks pores look

Large pores are a common issue, especially for oily skin types, and when pores are clogged, they appear even more prominent. Indeed, a chemical peel cannot minimize pores’ size, but it can make them look smaller by removing the oil and debris. Again, the one acid that works amazingly at shrinking large pores look is salicylic acid since it can go deep inside the pores, pushing out dead cells, sebum, and bacteria.

Soften fine lines and wrinkles

Usually, to soften fine lines and wrinkles, deeper peels are needed. They can penetrate the outer skin layer deep to the dermis, causing the denaturation of keratin and other proteins, leading to increased collagen production. Additionally, chemical peels improve the look of wrinkles since they remove the outer layer of old, rigid skin — the new skin replacing it is softer and smoother. Actually, the most common indications of chemical peels are photoaging and hyperpigmentation.[3]

Fade dark spots, uneven tone, and hyperpigmentation

If you struggle with one of these, you can be sure a chemical peel can help. By removing the old skin layer, sunspots and red and brown acne marks are diminished. The deeper chemical peels version penetrates more, so you could go for that if you want more dramatic results.

Increase products absorption

Chemical peels remove the buildup of dead cells, impurities, and debris, promoting new, healthy skin cells to come to the surface. Consequently, what you apply after a chemical peel is deeply absorbed into the skin; hence, you get more benefits from your skincare products. 

The takeaway

Regular chemical peels are a pivotal step to flawless skin. They do just about everything from retexturizing, evening skin tone, fading hyperpigmentation, and scars to softening fine lines and wrinkles and plumping skin by boosting collagen. Before making a chemical-peel plan, keep in mind that using the correct depth is critical for success. If you’re a chemical peel newbie, you want to start with a low-concentrated product and gradually work up to 10% (the maximum allowed by the FDA for over-the-counter chemical peels).[4] Allow your skin to adjust to chemical peels, and don’t try speeding up the process by increasing frequency; give it time.

After chemical peels, the skin becomes more sensitive to the sun, so wearing sunscreen is crucial (although you should really be doing that anyway). Ensure you’re wearing sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

  1. Rendon MI, Berson DS, Cohen JL, Roberts WE, Starker I, Wang B. Evidence and considerations in the application of chemical peels in skin disorders and aesthetic resurfacing. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.
  2. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015.
  3. Soleymani T, Lanoue J, Rahman Z. A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels: A Review of Fundamentals and Step-by-step Algorithmic Protocol for Treatment. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Alpha-Hydroxy Acids
Who wrote this?
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana is a sociologist and feminist with a shared passion for literature, psychology, and skincare, the combo that made her determined to start Women's Concepts. With over five years of experience in dermatological research, she has now become a certified skincare consultant keen to convince others of the importance of a diligent routine. Her close relationships with dermatologists around the globe, along with years of researching, analyzing studies, and hand-testing products on a daily basis, made Ana one of the best persons you can get advice from.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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