An increasing number of women – and men — are turning to ‘at home chemical peels’ (like glycolic acid peel or salicylic acid peel) to help improve the appearance of their skin and to tackle troublesome issues like acne, wrinkles, scars, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and discoloration.
Here’s how you can add at home chemical peels to your very own skin care regimen.
What are peels good for?
A chemical peel is a type of acid solution with a significant lower pH than your skin’s natural pH. It provides the following benefits:
- Exfoliates the skin;
- Lightens dark spots;
- Unclogs and reduce the size of pores;
- Clears up acne;
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles, scars and other signs of aging.
Chemical peels can do all these things while giving your overall complexion a beautiful glow.
Going to the dermatologist for chemical peel treatments can get a little costly, so many people choose to use at home peels.
Dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse advises that even though at home peels are usually milder than professional grade peels, they still contain the same ingredients.
Therefore, there are a lot of risks of doing a chemical peel at home without the supervision of a dermatologist. It’s recommended that anyone interested in doing an at home chemical peel look for the following five ingredients:
- Beta-hydroxyacids (aka salicylic acid peel);
- Glycolic and lactic acids;
- Fruit enzymes;
- Tricholacetic acid (TCA).
How intense of a peel do you want?
The best chemical peels will have a pH of 2.0 or lower so that the acid in the product can fully exfoliate your skin. There are three different types of chemical peels:
- Superficial peels (or lunchtime peels) are very gentle, can be used fairly quickly and are great for those with mild skin problems. These are recommended for those who are new to chemical peels.
- Medium peels are a little stronger and are recommended for those with moderate skin issues such as those due to aging.
- Deep peels go deep into the skin to help restore damaged cells and also help with scars and signs of aging.
Consumers of peels should always use the utmost caution when using at home chemical peels. It’s very important to understand the difference between the different types of peels. It’s important to know the percentage strengths, the required skin tone, and the required skin condition of each chemical peel product.
Most skin peels do not have any side effects other than a little bit of redness that fades quickly and some peeling of the skin.
The length of the redness and peeling of the skin depends upon the strength of the peel. It can last anywhere from a few hours to about 10 days. There are some other side effects that are more severe. However, these are only associated with peels that are not allowed for at-home use.
How to apply
When you are ready to get started with your chemical peel, make sure you test a small amount on your skin first to make sure there is no reaction. Some users recommend that you wait up to 96 hours to make sure there isn’t a delayed reaction.
It is also recommended that you start off slowly and increase the amount of time that the peel is left on your face by 30 second increments, until you work your way up to 5 minutes.
If you are still not receiving the desired results after a five-minute long treatment, then you should consider increasing your percentage of the peel. Patience is very important with chemical peels. Sometimes it can take over the course of weeks, months or years to see the effects of chemical peels on skin damage.
What to do afterwards
In the week following your peel, avoid sunlight as much as possible and using a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide and an SPF of 30 or higher. Your chemical peel will have removed the outermost protective layer of your skin, putting you at risk for more severe sun damage than normal.
Also avoid certain ingredients on your skin within 24 hours after applying the chemical peel. You should stay away from prescription tretinoins, AHAs, BHAs, vitamin C serums with ascorbic acid, low-pH serums, retinoids, and any other chemical exfoliation products.
After you have completed your chemical peel, it is so important to moisturize! A product containing hyaluronic acid is great to apply after the peel because it can provide a lot of moisture and also help with healing. You can use any moisturizer as long as it is one that can help to repair barrier damage.
5 recommended at home chemical peels
1. Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 (Glycolic Acid Peel Pads)
It’s very easy to apply your chemical peel with these pads. These can be used twice a week. They help to reduce the size of pores and leave you with a glowing complexion. Users have reported seeing results in as little as one month and claim this is the best product they have ever used.
2. Yeouth Glycolic Acid Peel
This chemical peel helps to erase signs of acne, tighten your skin, diminish pore size and give your skin a vibrant appearance. It contains three ingredients: retinol, green tea extract and 30 percent glycolic acid. Previous users of this product highly recommend it because it doesn’t leave your skin flaky for days like some other peels.
3. Perfect Image Glycolic Acid Peel (30%)
This chemical peel is really great because not only does it have the ingredient retinol, which helps with signs of aging and thirty percent glycolic acid to help remove dead skin cells, but it also includes ingredients that help to moisturize your skin.
4. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
If your main issue is acne, blackheads and facial cysts, then this is the chemical peel for you! It exfoliates your skin leaving you feeling radiant afterwards. You can even use this product daily if your skin is not sensitive to salicylic acid peel.
5. Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads
This chemical peel is great for users who have sensitive skin or want a peel that can be used daily. These peel pads are formulated with alpha, beta, and gamma hydroxy acids (which act as exfoliators) and amino acids (the building blocks of peptides).