Updated: Jan 16, 2019
A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the top layers revealing fresh skin layers with improved tone, texture, and color. It is amongst one of the most effective dermatological treatments to assist with wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. Chemical peels are the fourth most common noninvasive aesthetic procedure in the US, and over a million are performed on skin each year.
There are various layers of the skin, which is the largest organ in the body. The superficial, highest external layer of skin is called the stratum corneum. Below the surface of our skin is the epidermis, and the lowest level of skin is the dermis.
Chemical peels, in general, tend to be placed in three general categories:
Superficial or light peels are the mildest type of chemical peels, safe for all skin types. These peels do not penetrate the skin and are better known as topical or surface peels on the stratum corneum.
Medium depth peels penetrate the skin to the epidermal level and can even reach the papillary level of the dermis depending on application technique. These peels can be very effective in treating aging of the skin, reducing adverse pigment and eliminating varying degrees of sun damage.
Deep peels penetrate all the way to the dermis, a much more invasive procedure. These peels can take up to 14 days to recover from and actually “burn” the skin in order to eliminate damage and bring new skin to the surface layers. They tend to be more painful and have a longer downtime.
The chemical peels available differ based on the depth a peel solution can penetrate your skin and are affected by many factors including:
The amount of solution and number of passes applied to the skin
Duration of treatment and length of time solution remains active on the skin before neutralizing
Application method and technique
Types of peeling agents/chemicals and concentration of formula