Chemical Peel

Everything You Need to Know About Chemical Peels

By Spotlyte Staff

Tatjana Zlatkovic

What is a chemical peel?

You might have first heard of these popular treatments by watching Sex and the City — and been nervous to try them ever since. But don’t let a show steer you away from glowier skin! Simply put, a chemical peel is an umbrella term for a range of topical chemical skin resurfacers. (Think of professional peels as a more intense version of at-home chemical exfoliators.) Peels are non-invasive, but they can still pack a skin-resurfacing punch. Depending on the intensity of the peel, these formulas can fade age spots, soften fine lines, and leave skin significantly younger-looking. Like any skincare treatment, peels are not one-size fits all. They come in a range of intensities with different active ingredients, including salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and trichloroacetic acid. These ingredients promote cellular turnover at different depths. The most intense peels may rely on a small amount of phenol to resurface skin. Before you sign up to get your skin sloughed, read on for everything you need to know.


Javier Pardina
  • What concerns can chemical peels address?

  • How do they work?

  • Do they hurt?

  • How much do they cost?

  • What are the risks?

  • Are they right for me?

  • What outcome can I expect after treatment?

Javier Pardina
Luke Mattson



Before you undergo a peel, your provider (usually a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist) will ask you detailed questions about your skincare routine, your medical history, and your expectations. (S)he will also do a skin examination to ensure you’re a good candidate.


Once you’re reclined and settled, your provider will apply the peel solution to your skin. You may feel a tingling sensation as the peel goes to work. For deep peels, your doctor may offer sedation. Peels are outpatient procedures that usually take less than an hour, although full-facial deep peels can take up to 90 minutes.


Healing time varies depending on the type of peel. Light peels typically take around a week to recover from; medium peels take up to two weeks, and deep peels could take up to a month for full results. For medium and deep peels, your face may remain red during the healing process. Another important note: Because post-peel skin is extra-sensitive, it’s vital to apply sun protection after your procedure and every day afterward. For medium and deep peels, you may also need to take over-the-counter pain medications to manage discomfort.


For light peels, you will need multiple treatments to garner full results, though skin will look more radiant after a single session. Medium and deep peels only require a single treatment to elicit fresher-looking skin — often for years to come. Most importantly, sun protection is always a must — both to extend the results of your peel, and simply to maintain healthy skin overall.
Joslyn Blair
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Skin discoloration and dullness, be gone. Get ready to glow.
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