July 31

Chemical Peels For Acne

Adult Acne


Chemical peels for acne are at least somewhat effective in treating acne. Both medium and deep chemical peels appear helpful for acne scar reduction.

However, when using chemical peels for acne, the best level of acne clearance is achieved when chemical peels are used alongside other treatments.

Chemical peels for acne-prone skin are known to give great results, but their only major drawback is that you have to go in for several sessions to see positive results depending upon the extent of your acne scarring.

Additionally, when you get chemical peels for acne scars, the cost can run quite high.

What Are Chemical Peels for Acne?

Chemical peels are acids, which are applied to the skin. They are applied about once every two or three weeks in either an esthetician or doctor’s office. Doctors can administer peels in up to 70% strength, while estheticians in spas and salons can administer peels in up to 30% strength.

Chemical peels for acne acids include Glycolic acid, Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, Polyhydroxy acid, Amino fruit acid, Pyruvic acid, Trichloracetic acid (TCA) and Jessner’s peel.

The acid is left on the skin for a few minutes and then removed, depending on the strength and type of peel. The acids in a chemical peel cause the skin to peel and sometimes blister over a period of a few days.

This exfoliation signals the skin cells to regenerate faster, which can help hasten skin turnover, improve skin texture, and prevent pores from becoming clogged.

Chemical peels for acne are classified based on the type of acid and concentration, and the three main types of professionally administered chemical peels are

  • superficial,
  • medium, and
  • deep peels.

Superficial peels are usually used for the treatment of acne, medium peels are used for the treatment of both acne and acne scars, while deep peels are usually only used to treat acne scars.

Chemical peels, especially superficial peels, can be used alongside other medications, which is often the desired course of action since chemical peels produce incomplete clearing of the skin on their own.

Who Can Use Chemical Peels?

Professionally administered chemical peels, tend to work best on people with a lighter skin tone because the high percentage of acids in professionally administered peels sometimes produce temporary hyperpigmentation (darkening) or even permanent hypopigmentation (lightening) of the skin in darker-skinned people.

In rare cases, deeper peels can cause keloid (raised) permanent scarring in people with darker skin as well. These problems tend to increase as the percentage of acid used. So, while certain superficial peels may be safe for darker-skinned individuals, it is imperative that people with darker skin speak to an experienced dermatologist before using chemical peels, with meticulous caution given to medium or deep peels.

While people with darker skin need to proceed carefully when it comes to chemical peels, they can successfully and safely use products that contain the same acids at a lower percentage.

Side Effects Of Chemical Peels

If you follow the good chemical peel skin care regimen, there is no reason why you should suffer from side effects, however, some of the common side effects of peels that may occur include:

  • Redness
  • Tightness of skin
  • Sloughing or peeling skin

It is very important to avoid going out into the sun following a peel. If you must, then, use sunscreen cream with 50+ SPF when stepping out, because, peels make the skin very sensitive to sun damage and it is vital you use this precaution.

Choosing the Right Chemical Peel for Your Skin

Every skin peel does not work for every case of acne, as some products work well on some kinds of skin and don’t work at all on others.

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids, also known as AHAs, loosen the “glue” between skin cells on the surface of the skin, and all over-the-counter acne chemical peels products are alpha-hydroxy acids except salicylic acid.
  • Glycolic acid is the most commonly used chemical peel for acne-prone skin, and it is typically used to open the skin rather than to remove brown spots. It is more often used on dry and tight skin rather than on oily and loose skin.
  • Lactic acid is the acid found in milk and is especially useful for removing brown spots on tight, oily skin. It is a product you would use with caution around the eyes.
  • Salicylic acid is used on dark skin, and it is both a peel and an anti-inflammatory product. Salicylic acid is used in much lower concentrations than glycolic acid.

Chemical Peels For Acne Scars Cost

If you choose to get chemical peels for acne scars from professionals, then:

  • cost of lactic or glycolic acid peel could run anywhere close to a hundred.
  • TCA peels are often more effective but they are costlier and could set you back by nearly $300.
  • Most dermatologists and cosmeticians offer chemical peels in the form of a package, with each package consisting of 3-4 chemical peel sessions, which is actually a better idea for patients having very deep acne scarring.

It has been seen that majority of people who have tried chemical peels for acne prone skin or acne scarring are quite satisfied with the results. However, do read all about the side effects and warnings about chemical peels for acne scars so that you are aware of them to make an informed choice.


Acne chemical peels loosen the “glue” that holds dead skins on the surface of the skin, and removing dead skin cells allows newer, more naturally colored skin cells to move to the surface, and opens up pores.

The most commonly used over-the-counter chemical peels for acne are AHAs and BHAs, as AHAs are used on skin types that don’t form permanent brown coloration after they are irritated, while BHAs are used on dark brown and black skin to prevent and remove black spots on the skin.

A chemical peel almost never gets rid of existing brown spots without the help of a whitening agent, but you need to be sure to use the right whitening agent for your skin type.


Chemical peels for acne

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