Three Types of Chemical Peel: How to Choose the Right One

Three Types of Chemical Peels

If you are looking for a way to improve the appearance of your skin, then this blog post is for you. Chemical peels are an excellent option if you want to rejuvenate your skin and reduce or eliminate acne scars. There are three types of chemical peels: superficial, medium, and deep. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing three different types of chemical peels and how to decide what type is best for your skin.

What is a chemical peel?

For starters, let’s first take a look at what a chemical peel is and how it works. Chemical peeling is a great way to improve the appearance of your skin by applying a solution that removes dead cells from the surface in order to reveal newer, healthier looking skin. They work by causing a reaction on the skin which allows dead cells to peel off of the skin.

acid and brush used for chemical peels

There are many benefits to getting a chemical peel, including:

  • clearer pores
  • an even complexion
  • reduced acne breakouts
  • smaller wrinkles
  • stimulates the dermis and epidermis
  • supports skin renewal
  • correct damaged skin
  • stimulates collagen production
  • minimize discolorations

The Three Types of Chemical Peels

Superficial:

A superficial peel, also sometimes known as a light peel, uses a mild acid to gently exfoliate only the outermost layer of the skin. These types of peels are ideal for getting rid of acne scars and hyperpigmentation. Superficial peels are also great if you’re looking to tighten skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles on sun damaged skin.

Mild acids commonly used for superficial peels can include:

  • alpha-hydroxy acid
  • salicylic acid
  • glycolic acid

Before your superficial peel, your face will be cleaned and eye protection will be applied. During a superficial peel, your provider will use a cotton ball, gauze, or brush to apply a chemical solution to the treatment area. As the skin begins to whiten, you may experience a mild stinging sensation. Your provider will then remove the chemical solution or apply a neutralizing solution.

After a light peel it takes about 4-7 days to recover. During this time, you may experience red, mildly irritated, and/or dry skin. It is important to avoid picking at your skin during this time as it can cause scarring. It is also important to note that new skin may be lighter or darker.

Medium:

A medium peel uses stronger acids that are absorbed by the middle and outer layer of skin, allowing it to remove both dead and damaged skin cells. Medium chemical peels are great if you’re looking to improve skin tone and texture. If your primary concern is improving the appearance of acne scars, then a medium-depth chemical peel may be right for you.

Acids commonly used for medium peels include:

how different chemical peels affect the skin

Before your medium peel, your face will be cleaned and eye protection will be applied. During a medium peel, your provider will use a cotton ball, gauze, or brush to apply the chemical solution. Once the skin begins to whiten, a cold compress will be applied to cool the skin. Unlike a light peel, no neutralizing solution is needed. When receiving a medium peel, it is normal to experience a burning sensation for about 20 minutes.

Medium peels are more aggressive than superficial ones and therefore have a longer recovery time of about 5-7 days after the treatment, depending on your skin type. This also means that you’ll experience redness, blistering, crusting, swelling, and/or dry patches of skin for several days post-treatment. In many cases, you can expect your skin to swell and form brown crusts or blotches before revealing new skin. In some cases, you may also experience prolonged redness.

Deep:

A deep chemical peel uses strong acids to remove skin cells from the middle and outer layer of your skin. Unlike a medium peel, which only reaches the middle layer of skin, deep peels completely penetrate the middle layer. Deep peels are great for treating moderate scars, deep wrinkles, or precancerous growths. Unlike light and medium peels, you won’t need multiple peels to notice results.

Acids commonly used for deep peels include:

  • phenol (carbolic acid)
  • trichloroacetic acid

Deep chemical peels are performed using sedation, IV fluids, and heart rate monitoring. During a deep chemical peel, your provider will use a cotton ball, gauze, or brush to apply the chemical solution. The skin will then start to turn white or grey. Deep chemical peels are performed in 15 minute intervals to limit your exposure to phenol. A full facial can take around 90 minutes.

Unlike superficial and medium chemical peels, deep peel recovery is more intensive. Your face is likely to swell and turn bright red immediately after treatment and your eyelids may even swell shut. You may experience significant swelling for the first week following treatment as well as discoloration of your skin that can last up to several weeks or months after treatment depending on how severe your condition was before you began peeling.

Your face will also be covered in sticky, clear residue for several days. This is normal and should be expected after having a deep chemical peel. Your provider will give you instructions on how to care for your skin during recovery. In most cases you can expect to soak the skin and apply ointment several times a day. Although new skin will start to develop about 2 weeks after a deep peel, it can take several months before you see results.

The TLDR Version

At a glance here are how the different types of chemical peels affect your skin:

Superficial/Light Peels

Great for: dull skin, acne, minor hyperpigmentation, minor sun damage, sensitive skin

Not great for: moderate hyperpigmentation, moderate sun damage, moderate acne

Medium Peels

Great for: scarring, pigmentation issues, fine lines, sun damage

Not great for: sensitive skin, skin prone to abnormal scarring, those with certain skin conditions or who are on certain medications

Deep Peels

Great for: moderate to deep wrinkles, extensive sun damage, deep acne scares, precancerous growths, dramatic skin transformations

Not great for: sensitive skin, skin prone to abnormal scarring, those with certain skin conditions or who are on certain medications

In Conclusion:

If you have been struggling with your skin and are considering trying a chemical peel, this blog post should help you decide which type of peel will work best for your needs. If all of the technical terms scare you or if it sounds like too much hassle to figure out what is best on your own, let our team help you decide. Our experts are ready to partner with you to create an effective skincare plan that will help you address your skin concerns and achieve flawless skin!

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