Chemical Skin Peels: Does This Type of Exfoliant Really Make You Look Younger?

Jun 18 09:04 2012 Katerina S. Schmidt Print This Article

There’s a few things in life we can count on.  Aging skin and paying taxes being two of the most common. And while it can be very difficult to avoid paying our taxes, when it comes to delaying our skin from aging, there is at least some hope. There are many ways to slow signs of the aging process, and perhaps even reverse some of the visible effects.

Other than common sense approaches such as proper diet,Guest Posting exercise, sun protection and over-the-counter beauty products, many women are now turning to chemical peels to keep their skin looking younger. If you have been considering chemical skin peels to address sun damaged skin, scarring or other effects of aging, there are a few things you should keep in mind.


There are several different types of chemical skin peels. They can be differentiated by chemical type and depth of the peel. No matter what type of peel you are considering, you should know they all wound the skin. You see this type of beauty treatment takes full advantage of the body’s natural healing process. When the body is injured, it heals by shrinking and tightening the skin, the deeper the wound the more profound the overall affect.

Lunch Hour Peel-

At the light end of the chemical exfoliate scale is what you might call the lunch hour chemical skin peels. Glycolic peels can be done in an hour or less and use a very low-level chemical concentration. Over time, your skin becomes accustomed to the procedure allowing your doctor to increase the dosage, so to speak. The effects of this chemical peel are not nearly as noticeable as deeper peels, but with repeated use, your skin will show definite improvement. You can expect a better skin tone, refreshed and younger overall.

Possible Exfoliator Chemicals: Alpha Hydroxy
  • Citric Acid

  • Glycolic Acid

  • Lactic Acid

  • Malic Acid

  • Tartaric Acid

Mid-Level Peel-

If you are looking for something a little more intense, your doctor or practitioner may suggest a TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid). Chemical skin peels at this level are similar to a six-month glycolic acid (lunch hour) peel. As you can imagine the results can be quite spectacular especially if you suffer with large brown splotches of pigmentation. It is important to prepare your skin for this peel, and be ready to deal with the pain! TCA peels can be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes, but it will be a very intense half hour. In fact, doctors advise heart patients skip these chemical skin peels.

  • Better for dark skinned patients

  • Corrects skin pigmentation issues

  • Smooths fine lines and wrinkles

  • Take care of superficial blemishes

Start by preparing the skin with Retin-A or AHA cream and learning all you can about follow-up and aftercare requirements. Keep in mind that this is not a one-time treatment, you will likely be required to make follow up appointments if you want to maintain the results.

Deeper Level Peels

Phenol is the strongest possible chemical skin peel solution, think of it as the top of the food chain. If you are struggling with deep scars from acne, accidents or other causes, a phenol peel is the most likely solution. After phenol chemical skin peels, you will see dramatic results that will last for decades if not longer and there are no special follow up treatments required to maintain the results.

The biggest problem with a deep exfoliant is the change in skin color. Patients who have undergone phenol deep peels will have telltale pale skin. You should understand this is not just pale skin; you will be nearly ghost white, which leaves you with an unnatural appearance. If you are thinking about now that you can simply tan to improve your skin color, think again! Extremely deep chemical skin peels result in skin surfaces that will never tan again. As you might imagine this means, tanning the rest of the body is also a bad idea, as it will merely intensify the pallor of the areas you have peeled. You will have a younger look, albeit quite pale.

Deep Phenol Peel Process-
  • General anesthesia

  • Done in hospital or office

  • Procedure time- 50-60 mins

  • Outpatient Process

  • Moderate to severe pain- 0-5 days of prescription pain killers

  • Swelling

  • Red, oozing, crusted skin is normal in the first few weeks

Laser Resurfacing

On the same level as phenol chemical peels is laser resurfacing. Technically this is not a “chemical” treatment as high intensity lasers do the work of removing skin layers rather than concentrated chemicals. Indications:

  • Liver spots

  • Wrinkles

  • Scars

  • Sun damage

Risks of Laser Treatment

Infection- keep in mind you are removing several levels of skin, which means infection is always a risk. Bacterial, fungal and viral infections are possible, but the most common infection is a flare up of the herpes virus. This virus is responsible for cold sores and is generally already present, just dormant.

Acne- after treatment you will need to apply heavy creams and ointments, which can result in temporary acne flare-ups.

Eyelid- (ectropion) a very rare side effect of laser ablation is Ectropion, a condition where the lower eyelid turns out. Surgery is required to fix this issue.

Scarring- there is always a risk of permanent scarring with ablative laser treatments.

At Home Treatments

Can you do a chemical peel at home? The short answer is yes, however you must realize the acid levels are very low. Over the counter treatments can be productive, but it will take some time and the results are extremely subtle. If you want to look younger in a short amount of time, at home exfoliant is not the way to go!


If peeling your skin chemically or laser ablation does not sit well with you, there are a few alternatives. The first, of course is simply preventing as much skin damage as you humanly can. Proper sun protection, hydration and even exercise can make a world of difference in your skin. However, even with the best care acne scars, pigmentation and other issues may result in a desire for cosmetic procedures. One alternative is dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion is a surgical process where skin layers are worn away in a controlled setting. Sandpaper is a commonly used abrasive but other mechanical means can be used, as well as lasers. The mechanical process is preferred in most cases as it gives the same results but cost much less.

Final Thoughts

Chemical peels to achieve younger looking skin, and often as scar treatments are not a new concept. In fact the use of citric acids has been used as a common exfoliant for hundreds of years. Today of course, the process has been refined and somewhat improved. Whether you would like to remove a few fine lines and wrinkles or need to deal with serious scarring, there will be chemical peels offered to suit your needs—but be sure they actually do. If you plan to undergo a serious deep tissue level peel, make sure you check the credentials of your dermatologist, because a negative outcome may also be a lasting one.

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Katerina S. Schmidt
Katerina S. Schmidt

Katerina researches anti-aging beauty solutions for women and provides her findings on her website.  Discover more about how to look younger at

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