A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that involves an esthetician applying an acid solution to your skin. According to Dr. Clarissa Yang of Harvard Medical School, chemical peels can be a great idea to achieve visibly brighter skin and to correct pesky skin issues, such as fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration, and enlarged pores.

The solution works by dissolving the topmost layer of skin to reveal younger, smoother, and healthier skin beneath. Typically, estheticians perform light to moderate treatments that take about 30 minutes— one of the reasons it’s a popular lunchtime procedure— and the subsequent peeling may continue for 2 to 7 days post-treatment. Such peels often require minimal to no downtime. Ingredients used in most chemical peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid, or a combination of these.

Photo by @britt_deltoro_aesthetics

How to Prepare for a Chemical Peel:

Celebrity esthetician and skin care expert Renée Rouleau advises you to work with a professional who is specially trained and knowledgeable about working with chemical peels. The treatment is not one-size-fits-all, she says. Your skin care professional will need to determine which chemical peel is right for you: different peels treat different conditions and work best on certain skin types.

Therefore, prior to your treatment, your esthetician will need to perform a thorough skin evaluation and discuss any medications you might be taken that can interfere with the peel’s effectiveness.

Photo by Coline Haslé

What to Do After a Chemical Peel:

Post-treatment, your skin may be red and/or sensitive. Follow your esthetician’s instructions, such as limiting sun exposure whenever possible and using sunscreen for the next several days. On day 2 or 3 post-treatment, you will start to notice your skin beginning to peel. During this time, treat your skin gently— no harsh washcloths, microdermabrasion, or massaging techniques. Allow nature to run its course rather than trying to speed up the healing process. Experts also suggest using soothing products that counteract irritation and redness.

Chemical peels are a terrific option for clearing breakouts, correcting hyperpigmentation, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as many other common skin issues. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Dr. Yang recommends one treatment every 3 to 4 weeks to avoid overdoing it.


How a Chemical Peel is Done:


Header photo by Bin Thiều on Unsplash