Chemical Peel: What Is It and What's It For?

A chemical peel doesn't only help minimize acne blemishes, but can also improve skin texture and shine. It's a very common type of cosmetic treatment.
Chemical Peel: What Is It and What's It For?

Last update: 31 August, 2021

Our skin says a lot about our state of health. That’s why we strive to make you look your best. Fortunately, getting it to look good is something that can be done both through daily care and treatments such as a chemical peel.

A chemical peel is a treatment that’s used to treat acne, but also other skin health problems, such as blemishes and even minor wrinkles. It’s very popular, and so you may well have heard of it before.

What is a chemical peel?

The usefulness of chemical peel
A chemical peel can help alleviate many facial blemishes caused by previous illnesses, such as acne.

Peeling is a term that’s used to designate procedures whose objective is to produce different degrees of exfoliation of the skin. Its objective is to promote its regeneration, as well as to improve its health and appearance in terms of texture, luminosity, etc.

A chemical peel (also known as dermabrasion) uses a chemical or escharotic substance to promote skin regeneration. Regarding the latter, Dr. Ana Molina, an expert in dermatology and scientific communicator, explains the following:

“One or more layers of a solution with substances such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol), among others, are applied to the areas of the skin that we want to treat”.

Types of chemical peels

In general, there are three types of chemical peels, according to their action and scope: superficial, medium, and deep. We’ll now explain each type, according to what the experts say:

  • Superficial: These treatments act on the level of the epidermis. They’re mainly used for cosmetic purposes, although they can also have a therapeutic effect in cases of mild skin disorders. It’s ideal for treating acne, epidermal melasma, and photoaging.
  • Medium: These act on the epidermis and the dermis. So, they have a deeper skin action.
  • Deep: These have a much deeper action (up to the middle dermis) and require anesthesia. For this reason, they have often been replaced by laser techniques.


A chemical peel can help remove dead skin cells (to stimulate their regeneration) and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. It can also bring you the following benefits:

  • Reducing acne lesions (including post-acne scars)
  • Minimizing fine lines
  • Correcting skin irregularities, improving its texture and luminosity
  • Minimizing recent scars
  • Attenuating marks, such as those caused by melasma, sunburn, etc.
  • Removing flat warts
  • Relieving inflammatory skin conditions

Side effects

The most common (and expected) side effects of chemical peels are redness and peeling. These are mild and temporary discomforts which occur after treatment and which don’t pose any major inconvenience.

Although it isn’t very common, in some cases you may experience other discomfort during treatment, such as a sensation of heat or burning. It’s important to inform the doctor if they occur so that they can assess the most appropriate solution so as not to injure the skin.

Chemical peels and related procedures are contraindicated for reactive skin and very tanned skin because they can cause injuries. If you want to try any, it’s best to consult your dermatologist.


Certain precautions should be taken with chemical peels
People with sensitive skin or those prone to allergic reactions should consult a doctor before undergoing a chemical peel.

Before undergoing a chemical peel, the dermatologist should be informed of any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications. This is necessary in order to prevent adverse reactions.

On the other hand, it’s always advisable to review daily care products with the specialist to receive recommendations regarding their use. After they’ve carried out the process, they may recommend avoiding the use of some products and temporarily replacing them with others that they prescribe.

Another recommendation they usually make is to be careful with sun exposure. We must bear in mind that, even though a chemical peel is a safe procedure, the skin will need certain attention so that it can recover and regenerate properly.

In this sense, sun exposure is a type of external aggression that must be avoided so that the skin tissue can recover, but also to ensure that the effects of the peeling last as long as possible.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that even though the skin can improve considerably after a single session, you’ll often require several sessions (spaced out) to achieve a more lasting improvement.

As in other types of treatment, adherence to it and self-care play a key role when it comes to being and looking healthy.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.