The Pros & Cons of Chemical Peels: Are They Worth It?

Discover more about what a chemical peel can do for your skin. Learn the benefits, risks, and how to care for your skin post-treatment.

Author: Katherine Nagato & Georgie Falcone

Reading time: 6 minutes

A chemical peel can visibly improve your skin by improving skin texture, tone and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. However, it also presents side-effects that you should be wary of. This can include redness, scarring, and possibly infection. By learning more about the different types of chemical peels, and how to look after your skin post-treatment, you can try to avoid any risks.

Types of Chemical Peels

There are three different types of chemical peels. The first is a superficial peel and can be found in the form of AHAs. Superficial peels remove dead skin cells from the epidermis, provide mild exfoliation, and encourage the skin to regenerate and produce collagen. As a result, this type of chemical peel heals superficial scarring and wounds on the skin’s surface.

The second is a medium peel and typically contains ingredients such as glycolic acid. This skincare ingredient is beneficial for reducing pore size, blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Moreover, a medium peel is capable of penetrating past the epidermis to the surface of the dermis. Therefore, this provides deeper exfoliation and is suitable for more severe scarring and shedding damaged skin.

The third, and most potent, is a deep peel. This peel has the ability to penetrate into the dermis (the middle layer of the skin), and can contain ingredients such as phenol (a derivative of trichloroacetic acid). This ingredient has been scientifically proven to get rid of old, damaged and dead cells, while promoting overall regeneration at a deeper cellular level.

What Are the Benefits of a Chemical Peel?

There are a multitude of benefits to the skin from undergoing a chemical peel. However, this also depends on the type of peel, the ingredients and your skin goals. Overall, chemical peels help to improve overall tone and texture, whilst calming and reducing redness or inflammation over a course of treatments. As well as this, facial peels aid in deep cell renewal and collagen production. They can also heal prominent acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and signs of premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Is a Chemical Peel Good for Your Skin?

Yes, when a chemical peel is performed by a licensed, trained aesthetician or dermatologist they can have an abundance of benefits, and are safe. Chemical peels can be effective for those dealing with more severe or prominent skin concerns.

However, while chemical peels have benefits, it is important to be aware of some of the potential risks.

How Long Does a Chemical Peel Last?

The results of a chemical peel will vary depending on which one you get. Generally, the more potent the peel, the longer the results will last. For example, the results from a light chemical peel will typically last around 1-2 months, whereas a medium peel would last 2-6 months. However, after each treatment, the results will last a little longer each time.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Chemical Peel?

Likewise, the recovery time following a chemical peel will vary based on the type of peel you received. For instance, a light peel will generally take 1-7 days for your skin to heal. However, a medium peel may take 7-14 days, and a deep peel might take over 2 weeks. It is also worth noting, that even when your skin has recovered, redness may subside.

Is a Peeling Treatment Bad for My Face?

As the saying goes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and this is important to keep in mind when using chemical peels. Superficial and medium peels are safe when performed correctly and by a professional.

Overall, peels are generally safe, however it is likely you will experience mild peeling post-treatment. Although, the aesthetician or dermatologist should make you aware of this before.

Furthermore, you should space out the time between each peel. Depending on the treatment and the strength of the peel, it should be, on average, anywhere between 4-12 weeks. If the peels are any more frequent, then there are more possible risks and side effects. This is generally due to over-exfoliation, which could cause a reversal effect and actually damage the skin, instead of healing it over time.

Signs to look out for if you think you are suffering from over-exfoliation can include burning and peeling skin, redness, breakouts, and sensitivity to skincare products. As a result, you should reduce the number of chemical peels you are getting, or space them out to give your skin enough time to heal. This is because sensitised and damaged skin is the result of a weakened skin barrier. Furthermore, a weakened skin barrier can make your skin more susceptible to external environmental aggressors, which can unfortunately lead to even more damage.

How to Care For Your Skin After a Facial Peel

If you feel that your skin has been over-exfoliated as a consequence of chemical peels then there are some simple steps you can do to aid your skin in recovery.

Step 1: Use a Gentle Cleanser and Suncreen

Stripping your skincare routine to the bare essentials is a great step. You should try to only use a gentle cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. Sunscreen is essential, since facial peels will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Dermaceutic K Ceutic SPF 50 Cream is a sunscreen specifically designed for post-treatments. Furthermore, it not only protects the skin, but active ingredients such as glycoprotein, hyaluronic acid, and silanol deeply nourish and repair to minimise irritation and redness after chemical peels, reducing down-time.

Step 2: Use a Moisturiser

An effective moisturiser to use after a chemical peel is the PCA Skin Rebalance. This product also works to recover skin post-treatment. Formulated with active ingredients such as vitamin A, borage seed oil, and evening primrose seed oil, this moisturiser strengthens the skin while reducing redness and irritation.

Step 3: Avoid Exfoliation

Finally, you should ween off any exfoliation (physical or chemical), for the time being. In this way, your skin has some time to breathe and resume regular skin regeneration. Furthermore, it can heal and begin regular function without any harsh products stripping away natural oils or layers of skin.

Keeping it simple is the key to allow your skin the time to heal. It is also worth noting that you may find yourself moisturising more than usual. This is fine, as your skin will likely be quite dry.

Are Chemical Peels Worth It?

So, are facial peels worth it? To conclude, a medical-grade chemical peel can be a great addition to your current skincare routine. If you are looking to aid your skin in speeding up the process of healing damaged skin, then chemical peels are an effective option to promote deeper cellular healing and rejuvenation.

A chemical peel can go that step further in rejuvenating and enhancing your appearance, resolving deeper skincare conditions and concerns.

However, you should always be aware of potential risks, and pay attention to how your skin responds to different skincare treatments and products.