Shedding Light On Chemical Peels

Article by Cristal G. Orpilla, RN


As the infamous Sex and the City episode demonstrated, chemical peels, when done incorrectly,  may have effects that don’t always turn out pretty.  While the episode may have painted an exaggerated picture as to how chemical peels work,  changing times have led to advances in the cosmetic industry. Today,  new chemical peels won’t leave you red, irritated, crusty, or needing time off to hide from the world.


Chemical peel for clear skin

New skin is just a peel away!


Skin exfoliation through chemical peels have been around since ancient times. The earliest known chemical exfoliation dates back to the times of Cleopatra,  who was known for taking baths in sour milk (from which lactic acid peels are derived). Chemical peels can be used to treat brown spots and pigmentation (such as dark spots from acne and melasma), photodamage, fine lines, mild blemishes, and acne scars.  They minimize the signs of aging and skin damage by sloughing away the “dead” superficial skin layers. Doing so kickstarts the body’s natural healing process, and the response is generation of fresh, new skin cells that work their way to the surface to replace the layers that have been removed.  New skin cells lead to an overall appearance to rejuvenation that will make one look refreshed, and may even take a few years off the face.  Chemical peels are generally safe,  but as with  all cosmetic procedures,  possible complications sometimes arise,  and it’s important to know that there are various types of peels that react differently to each skin type. Not all chemical peels are a one type fits all.


A chemical peel works its magic by acting on specific layers of the skin. There are three different levels of chemical peels: Superficial (Light), Medium, and Deep. These peels are categorized according to the depth of skin wounding.


Deep Peels
Deep peels, such as the Phenol peel are much more serious and aimed at deeper wrinkles, photoaging, and strong discolorations. Deep peels extend injury to the dermis,  and if done correctly, offer the most dramatic results.  However, down time with this type of chemical peel is very long (expect it to be around at least 2 weeks), so be prepared to take time off-  a la Samantha in Sex and the City. There is also much higher risks of complications from irritation, chemical burning, and scarring associated with this type of chemical peel. Since the injury goes much deeper into the layers of the skin,  healing time is also prolonged. Healing time varies from each individual,  and it is common for complete healing time of deep peels to be as much as 2-3 weeks.


Medium Peels

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is a popular peel in this category of chemical peels. Other peels in this category are higher concentrations (usually above 30%) of glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels. Medium peels go just a tad deeper than mild peels,  and have the major benefit of reducing minor wrinkles. However,  they have a greater chance of complications,  namely increased sensitivity (redness, stinging),  and increased risks of scarring and pigmentation problems if done callously. Expect down time to be up to 1 week.


Superficial Peels

Mild, superficial peels include lower concentrations of glycolic acid (less than 30%), lactic acid (10-20%),  salicylic acid (beta-hydroxy, about 10%) ,  and Jessner’s peels (a Franken-peel of 14% salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol in an ethanol base) . The level of skin injury is limited to just the top layer,  the stratum corneum. They are suitable for many skin types and result in skin that is smoother and brighter. They produce little to no side effects,  and act to remove the very topmost layers of damaged skin.  However, it’s important to note that one treatment won’t give dramatic results.  You will definitely need more than just one.  A series of peels,  done once every 4-6 weeks will help achieve that youthful glow, smooth surface, and even skin tone. Typically,  good results are achieved after 6 peels.   Peel packages, if offered, are the way to go, as may get the most bang for your buck  since most skincare professionals give fair discounts when purchasing peels in series,  as opposed to a la carte treatments.


I am a big fan of monthly superficial peels.  First off,  I don’t like the redness and downtime associated with medium-deep peels,  and also I personally feel that “progressive, not aggressive” is the way to go when it comes to skincare.  The skin is delicately strong.   It is the largest organ in the body and helps to protect from many environmental insults,  but it is in no way immune to harsh chemicals.  Proper technique and discretion of the person applying the peel must be taken. But generally speaking, superficial peels are safe. There little to no down time associated with light peels,  the most common being transient redness that lasts a few hours, and mild sloughing, dryness, or peeling that disappears within a few days.


Hopefully this shed some light on how peels can be used to help achieve smoother skin. Now shed your old exterior!  Chemical peels are a great way to maintain smooth skin that is even in tone. New skin is just a peel away!


The following two tabs change content below.


Online Editor, Beauty Writer at Beauty-Goodies
As a New York City-based registered nurse with backgrounds in pharmacology, medical research, medical spa aesthetics, and cosmetic dermatology, Cristal became interested in the ways people go about achieving beauty. When she's not working full-time at Cornell Medical Center or performing aesthetic treatments at a midtown NYC medical spa, she daylights as a beauty writer, and has a penchant for scoring sample sale treasures, bellydancing, playing dress-up, and of course, chatting about beauty goodies.

Latest posts by Cristal (see all)

41 thoughts on “Shedding Light On Chemical Peels

  1. Vanessa

    In einem Board wurde dieser Artikel angelinkt und dadurch bin ich auf deinem Blog gekommen. Eigentlich bin ich nicht so der Blogleser sondern lieber in Boards unterwegs, aber wie ich es jetzt bei deinem Webblog gesehen habe koennen Blogs doch auch ganz interessant sein. Vielleicht aendere ich ja irgendwann meine denkweise und bin bald lieber auf Webblogs als auf Foren unterwegs :).

  2. Weisenstein

    I recently came across your blog and are already reading along. I thought I would leave my very first comment. I don¡¯t know what to say except that I’ve enjoyed reading. Good blog. I will maintain visiting this blog really often.

  3. Kerry Madagan

    I randomly browse blogs on the web, and I discover your article to be very informational. I’ve already bookmark it on my browser, so that I can view your blog publish once more later. Additionally, I am questioning whether or not your blog is open for hyperlink alternate, as I actually want to exchange hyperlinks with you. I don’t usually do this, but I hope that we can have a mutual link exchange. Let me know and have a fantastic day!

  4. Jospeh Cajulus

    I have to state, you chose your words well. The ideas you wrote on your encounters are well placed. This is an incredible blog!

  5. Virginia Medema

    I was looking for a meds site when I came across your post in a google search. I agree you with your post completely. Couldn’t of said it better myself.

  6. Sanjuanita Spayd

    I have to state, you chose your words well. The ideas you wrote on your encounters are well placed. This is an incredible blog!

  7. Love sms

    I really enjoyed flipping through this. I think I will have a go through your other posts!

  8. Cherrie Cabell

    Your web site is quite exciting,I would like to communicate with u,could i sent electronic mail for you?Your weblog is really fascinating,I would like to connect with u,could i sent e mail for you?

  9. salicylic acid

    I came across this website totally by accident when I was looking for something else totally different. I hear the best things in life are accidents though and this site is no different. Please keep up the great work as I plan to look for your website everyday.

  10. Gina G

    This is wonderful. You have hit every point. I laughed out loud at some of them¡­.it is me. I needed a jolt. Thank you from my heart.

  11. Callagher

    Hello, this is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting in your blog especially on how to determine the topic. keep up the good work.

  12. Sprandel

    That is very inspirational stuff. Never known that feeling can be this diversified. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to extend such helpful information on this post. . . .

  13. Shoemate

    Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.

  14. Krupinsky

    wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.

  15. Ensey

    Finding websites with as much information as this one is always a pleasure I wll be sure to come back and visit again real soon, keep up the good work.

  16. Bridgette

    Hey – great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  17. Prop 8 Overturned 201

    wow, awesome post, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by bing, many userful stuff here, now i have got some idea. bookmarked and also signed up your rss. keep us updated.

  18. Pannone

    Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.

  19. Pingback: 4 Step Skincare Regime for New Skin for Spring | Beauty Goodies

  20. Pingback: How to Build an At-Home Medi-Spa | BEAUTY GOODIES

  21. Pingback: nonpoint

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *