You have likely heard of chemical peels as a popular cosmetic procedure, but you may still be wondering what exactly does a chemical peel do? In short, a chemical peel removes the outer layer of skin using a chemical solution to reveal fresher, smoother skin underneath. The treatment can improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, tighten skin, and fade hyperpigmentation. A chemical peel is often used on the face, neck, and hands to rejuvenate skin and provide an overall refreshed appearance.

The procedure involves applying a chemical solution, often containing glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid, to remove the outer layer of skin. As the treated skin peels off, new skin forms to replace it. Deeper peels penetrate multiple layers of skin to produce more dramatic results, but also require longer recovery. The advantages of a chemical peel include smoother, brighter skin, improved skin tone and texture, reduced age spots and acne scars, and minimized pores. However, the procedure does come with some discomfort during and after the treatment as well as risks like scarring or hyperpigmentation.

While a chemical peel may seem like an extreme measure, for many the rewards of fresher, rejuvenated skin and a boost in self-confidence are well worth it. By understanding exactly what a chemical peel does and having realistic expectations about the results, you can decide if this nonsurgical cosmetic procedure is right for you.

what does a chemical peel do

What Does a Chemical Peel Do for Your Skin?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that uses a chemical solution to exfoliate the outer layer of skin cells. It removes damaged skin cells, allowing new cells to form in their place. This results in smoother, firmer, and more even-toned skin with a healthy glow.

What Does a Chemical Peel Do for Your Face

For the face, a chemical peel can reduce signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. It helps minimize the appearance of pores, brightens skin tone, and improves skin texture. Chemical peels are also effective for reducing acne scars and hyperpigmentation. By speeding up cell turnover, chemical peels stimulate the production of collagen and elastin resulting in skin that looks and feels rejuvenated.

What Does a Chemical Peel Do for Acne

For acne-prone skin, chemical peels help clear pores, reduce inflammation, and prevent future breakouts. By removing the outer layers of skin, chemical peels unclog pores and remove dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria buildup that can lead to acne. They also stimulate new cell growth and collagen production which helps fade acne scars and smooth uneven skin texture from past breakouts.

The cost of a chemical peel can range from $100 to $700 depending on the type and strength. Chemical peels provide significant benefits but also come with potential side effects like redness, irritation, and peeling. Multiple treatments may be required to achieve desired results. When performed properly by a dermatologist, the benefits of chemical peeling far outweigh the risks. Chemical peels can leave you with fresh, glowing skin and a rejuvenated appearance.

what does a chemical peel do

Different Types of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of skin cells. By removing this outer layer, a chemical peel can:

There are three main types of chemical peels:

Light peels (e.g. glycolic acid peels) treat dullness, uneven texture, and mild scarring. They typically require little downtime.

Medium peels (e.g. TCA peels) reduce acne scars, wrinkles, age spots, and hyperpigmentation. They typically require 3 to 7 days of downtime.

Deep peels (e.g. phenol peels) can dramatically improve severe acne scarring or wrinkles. They require 2 weeks of downtime but provide the most dramatic results.

The cost of a chemical peel depends on factors like the type of peel, number of treatments needed, and your geographic location. On average, light peels start around $100-$200 per treatment, medium peels $500-$700, and deep peels $1500-$3000. While chemical peels have many benefits, there are some disadvantages to consider like potential side effects, sun sensitivity, and cost. Overall, chemical peels can be an effective way to rejuvenate your skin and address common skin conditions when performed properly by a dermatologist.

Are Chemical Peels Right for You?

Chemical peels utilize controlled chemical solutions to remove damaged outer layers of skin and reveal smoother, clearer skin underneath. They can improve skin tone and texture, reduce fine lines, and minimize pore size. However, chemical peels may not be suitable or provide optimal results for all individuals.

How Much Is a Chemical Peel: Cost and Downtime

The cost of a chemical peel can range from $100 to $700 per treatment depending on the peel strength and number of treatments required. Downtime also varies but can last 3 to 14 days. For some, the downtime and multiple treatments may be difficult to accommodate with work or family obligations.

Chemical Peeling Advantages and Disadvantages: Potential Side Effects

While chemical peels are generally quite safe, potential side effects include redness, stinging, swelling, and peeling. Rare but possible risks include scarring, infection, and changes in skin tone. Chemical peels may not be advisable for those with sensitive skin or who are prone to poor wound healing and scarring. A consultation with a dermatologist can help determine if your skin type and concerns are appropriate for chemical peeling.

Chemical Peel Treatment and Maintenance

To achieve optimal results, multiple treatments are often required spaced 3 to 6 weeks apart. Home care products like retinoids, moisturizers, and sun protection are also typically recommended to enhance and maintain the benefits. Strict sun avoidance for several months after a chemical peel is essential to minimize complications.

In summary, while chemical peels can be very effective for revealing radiant, youthful skin, they may not suit all needs or budgets. A consultation with a board-certified dermatologist can help determine if chemical peels are right for you based on your skin concerns, health, and lifestyle. With the proper combination of treatments and at-home products, chemical peels can provide dramatic improvements in skin tone and texture for those willing and able to invest the time and money.


As you have read, chemical peels can provide a range of benefits for rejuvenating and brightening your skin. By removing the outer layer of skin, chemical peels stimulate collagen production and cell turnover, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and acne scars. While chemical peels do come with some risks like irritation or discoloration, when performed properly by a dermatologist, the rewards can be well worth it. By understanding how chemical peels work and what to expect during treatment, you can make an informed decision about whether a chemical peel is right for you based on your skin concerns and desired outcomes. With new, radiant skin, you may find yourself ready to face the world with a fresh new glow and confidence from within.


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