What is a Chemical Peel?

Is it instant gratification your want, in the form of luminous glowing skin?

Or reduced breakouts and fine lines, and more radiant skin over time.

Then a safely performed peel will make your complexion look fabulous.

What is a chemical peel?

It’s a chemical solution that’s is applied to your skin, that removes cells from the surface of your skin to correct imperfections.

When trauma occurs within the tissues, the cells natural response is to fire up fibroblasts which stimulate new collagen formation in the dermis; as a result, your skin becomes visibly thicker, plumper and smoother, it also speeds up collagen production to give you vibrant, smoother skin.

The stronger phenol peels create a controlled wound, which allows the skin to regenerate itself, these are often used for severe acne scarring and deep ageing lines, working deep within your dermis, to force your skin into creating a whole new layer. Because of their intensity, redness, swelling and full-skin shedding can occur, so they will require downtime of one to two weeks.

Those with sensitive, reactive skin are advised to steer clear of most peels, other than using light enzymes, which you can read about here.

What are the benefits of a chemical peel?

  • unclogs pores
  • lightens acne scars
  • boosts collagen synthesis
  • encourages cellular turnover
  • improves hyperpigmentation
  • reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • improves the tone and texture of your skin

The correct peel for your skin is critical.

The lower the pH, the deeper the peel will penetrate your skin, It is possible to have a 40 per cent peel that has a high pH, what this means is the impact of the peel will be minimal. A 20 per cent peel that has a low pH, however, can be more active.

The pH scale runs from 1, which is acid to 14 which is alkaline. The pH of healthy skin is around 5.5, which is slightly acidic. Soap, for instance, has a pH of 8–9, which has a real drying effect, a topic we discuss in the article, the soap and water debate. Water has a pH of around 7, and face wipes have a pH of around 10.

What you can expect from your treatment?

Your skin type determines the treatment, the colour of your skin and condition being treated, the type of acid used and concentration, the pH of the peel, how many layers are to be applied and the length of time it is to be left on for.

In general, the deeper the peel, the more downtime is required, the more disruption to your skin and the risk of prolonged healing.

During your treatment, it isn’t uncommon to experience a tingling sensation, which can last a few minutes. The person administering the peel should monitor this, to ensure no unusual burning takes place, which is why they must never leave you alone during treatment.

We recommend cutting out any retinol or vitamin C products at least two weeks before your treatment, and only introduce them back into your routine slowly, especially if you experience sensitivity. Diabetes or Roaccutane medication can contraindicate a chemical peel because they can thin your skin.

All fo this will be discussed during pre-consultation and your skin analysis, if for some reason, you are not confident in the person who will be performing your treatment, then don’t commit, chemical peels must be administered really carefully, as they come with their risks.

What can you expect after a peel?

The healing time will all depend on the type of peel you have received, often mild to medium erythema may occur, like a reaction that is similar to a sunburn.

The more severe the peel, the more intense the scaling will be, which can last anywhere from one to seven days. If you are having a phenol peel this is a much deeper chemical peel and much more is involved.

Superficial peels can be repeated up to four-weekly intervals, whilst medium peels may be repeated every six or 12 months.

After your peel, avoid products that contain AHA’S or BHA’S or strong actives. Instead, opt for gentle, soothing products like those in our range. You’ll also need to avoid the sun after a chemical peel since your new skin will be very fragile.

What types of peel ingredients are there?

  • lactic acid, which is essentially sour milk, is good for hydrating your skin; it has a small molecular structure so penetrates well
  • glycolic acid is derived from sugar; it is an excellent exfoliator
  • kojic acid is derived from mushrooms and is good for pigmentation
  • mandelic acid derived from bitter almonds is good if you have a combination or oily skin; it is a larger molecular structure than lactic
  • citric acid is derived from lemons and is ideal if you have problems with pigmentation
  • azelaic acid is derived from apples and is a great choice if you have breakouts or mild acne
  • salicylic acid is originally derived from willow bark, although synthetic compounds are now often used, it is ideal if you have an oily or combination skin type


Chemical peels, although scary sounding, should not be overlooked, they can have some really wonderful benefits on the skin.

Before having a treatment, make sure you do your research well, before settling on the person who is to perform the peel.

We also recommend becoming your own label detective, so you can ensure you are using the right pH level of peel for your particular skin type and concern.

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