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Everything You Want to Know About a Chemical Peel

Last updated: June 8, 2022

Most people can benefit from a good dermatologist and the glow they can achieve from in-office treatments and products. One of the most popular treatments is the chemical peel.

Chemical peels can be done at a dermatologist's office or in the comfort of our own home. Although at-home chemical peels have lower acid concentrations, they can be very effective and safe.

What Is a Chemical Peel?

A cosmetic treatment that can be used on the face, neck, or hands, chemical peels are used to improve the feel and appearance of the skin.

The chemicals cause exfoliation of the skin, and the dead skin peels off. When this occurs, the newly exposed skin is usually smoother, less damaged, and less wrinkled.

What can be treated with a chemical peel? Any of these issues may benefit from the right type of chemical peel.

  • Sun damage
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Acne scars
  • Melasma
  • Scars
  • Redness
  • Brown spots
  • Skin discoloration
  • Uneven skin tone

Enzyme Peel vs Chemical Peel

When you're looking at enzyme peels vs chemical peels, it helps to understand how each of these types of peels works.

Enzyme peels are similar to chemical peels in that they help dissolve old skin cells so that healthy fresh skin is revealed. However, enzyme peels are much gentler than chemical peels. On the other hand, chemical peels use these types of acids.

  • Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs)
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
  • Phenol
  • Trichloroacetic acid

Enzyme peels use fruit enzymes from pumpkins, papaya, pineapples, and pomegranate. These enzymes come from fresh fruit, so they are widely considered to be an all-natural option.

Chemical Peel vs Laser Resurfacing

While chemical peels use acids of various strengths to remove the skin's top layers, laser resurfacing treatments emit light beams to target hemoglobin, pigment, or water in the skin.

With laser resurfacing, it's simpler to target precise areas.

Chemical Peel Frosting vs Blanching

Chemical peel frosting is a salicylic acid crystal residue that is on the skin and can be easily wiped away. PCA chemical peel reviews say that the crystals are fine enough that they are nearly invisible to the naked eye.

Blanching is sometimes called protein coagulation. The process occurs with peels of medium depth or much deeper.

Frosting and blanching are often confused because they both have a white appearance. However, they differ in how the white appearance comes about.

The Healthiest Chemical Peel Options

We have listed here the healthiest chemical peels you can buy over the counter.

1. Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Soothing Peel

For a professional-strength exfoliant peel you can do at home, try Renee Rouleau's Triple Berry Soothing Peel. This peel contains berries that are rich in antioxidants, along with BHAs, AHAs, and enzymes.

The ingredients help to clear clogged pores, get rid of blemishes, lift skin discoloration, fade acne scars, smooth skin texture, and stimulate cellular renewal. This solution can also reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and large pores.


2. Obagi Clinical Blue Brilliance Triple Acid Peel

This chemical peel is made from three acids:

  • Salicylic acid: reduces skin imperfections, large pores, and photo damage
  • Glycolic acid: gives a complexion that's brighter looking
  • Lactic acid: leaves skin feeling smooth and soft while improving the appearance of uneven dull skin

Obagi's product is one of the strongest safe exfoliating treatments you can buy over the counter. All Obagi products are vetted and tested by a dermatologist.


3. M-1 PowerGlow Peel

For acne breakouts, this one-minute treatment with salicylic acid and glycolic acid is quick and easy to use. To combat the redness that many peels cause, this treatment has chamomile and lavender to help soothe your skin.

Other active ingredients in this vegan peel include vitamin K and bilberry extract, a potent antioxidant. Bilberry promotes a more even skin tone, while the vitamin K reduces the appearance of unsightly spider veins.


4. Perfect Image Pineapple Pumpkin Enzyme Peel

If you're new to doing chemical peels or enzyme peels at home, a good product to try is Perfect Image Pineapple Pumpkin Enzyme Peel. This product is 100% derived from vegetables and fruits, so the acids in the solution are more gentle.

Alpha hydroxy acid occurs naturally in pineapple and papaya. From pumpkins, this peel gets vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and zinc.


5. Bliss 10% Glycolic Acid Peel Pads

When it comes to ease of use, it doesn't get much better than these little peel pads, which are a fan favorite. The pads have 10% glycolic acid that releases slowly overnight. You can expect good results to fix blemishes, dark marks, and fine lines.

This brand is great for sensitive skin because it also contains calendula flowers, licorice, and witch hazel.


6. Thrive Causemetics Overnight Sensation Gentle Resurfacing Peel

Is it important to you to use vegan skincare products? If so, we recommend you check out this chemical peel from Thrive Causmetics. This vegan product is made with four different acids:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Phytic acid

The product also contains bakuchiol, a retinol alternative that is derived from plants. That means that when you do something good for your face, you're doing something good for the planet, too. 


7. Pacifica Glow Baby Brightening Peel Pads

Pacifica Beauty has an excellent line of skincare products, and their entire product line is cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and vegan. Unlike some chemical peels, this one actually smells good, too. 

The pads are made with a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acid that serves to retexturize and clear pores. Your skin will also enjoy the benefits that come with apple extract. 


8. Natura Bisse Glyco Extreme Peel

While this peel from Natura Bisse is pricey, the reviews are excellent so it may be worth the price if you have mature skin. 

This peel is made with five different AHAs that target aging on the skin's surface and at deeper levels, too. Benefits include the restoration of luminosity and radiance. With this product, you can reduce the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, and visible pores. 



Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about chemical peels.

How much is a chemical peel?

Because chemical peels are a cosmetic procedure, they are usually not covered by medical insurance. If you have a chemical peel professionally done, it can cost anywhere from $150 for a light peel to $3,000 for a deep peel.

Add-ons such as anesthesia make deep peels more expensive. An average cost for chemical peels is about $673, as reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Does chemical peel remove freckles?

You can significantly lighten freckles and achieve a more even complexion with some chemical peel treatments. The best options are trichloroacetic acid peels or moderate glycolic acid peels.

Which type of chemical peel is best?

Glycolic chemical peels penetrate deepest on your skin.

What is the best chemical peel for sun damage?

For sun damage, use a chemical peel with glycolic acid.

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