Chemical face peels can be used either at home or in a salon by a professional beautician. Glycolic acid chemical peels and salicylic acid peels are both excellent for giving you a refreshed, healthy looking skin and to reduce lines and wrinkles as well as to help reduce redness caused by acne.

How Do Chemical Face Peels Work?

Chemical peels work by burning off the top layer of the skin which will then flake off over the next few days leaving behind new, healthy looking skin. The top layer of skin is naturally shed over time but as we get older the rate slows down and skin can take on a dull appearance. A chemical peel speeds up this natural process. Peels that can be done at home are mild and do not reach the deeper levels of the skin so do not cause damage.

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Glycolic Acid Chemical Peels

Glycolic acid is a very small molecule that can penetrate the outer layer of the skin. It then breaks the bonds chemically that hold dead skin cells onto the epidermis so that they can be easily removed. To give a deeper exfoliation they are sometimes used in combination with a microdermabrasion process which physically removes the dead cells.

Some Advantages of Glycolic Acid Chemical Peels

Glycolic acid peels are mild enough to be used at home provided you follow the instructions carefully. However if this is the first time you're using a chemical peel it may be a good idea to have one done professionally so that you know what to expect. They can help reduce the damage done by the sun and also help to prevent acne flareups if used regularly. They can also reduce the appearance of age spots and fine lines and wrinkles. As well as being used on the face they can also be used on other areas of the body.

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At Home Glycolic Acid Chemical Peels

It is safe to use these types of peels at home provided you use one of the low concentration products sold for this purpose. There are some that are labeled as suitable for use at home with concentrations as high as 30% and we would not recommend these. It's also important to buy a brand that you are familiar with as unlabeled products can have widely different concentration levels.

Salicylic Acid Chemical Peels

Although salicylic acid chemical fields are fairly mild and do not cause side effects in most people they are best done by a professional rather than at home because salicylic acid can be toxic if inhaled. Salicylic acid is similar to the more familiar chemical known as aspirin and shares some of its properties. It has anti-inflammatory effects that can help to reduce any inflammation and irritation after the use of the peel. Concentrations used are usually between 20% and 30%. Unlike glycolic acid, salicylic acid is fat soluble so is particularly useful for people with oily skin such as those who suffer from acne. It can penetrate deep into the pores and thoroughly clean out any accumulated dust, dirt or sebum. For people with very sensitive skin, salicylic acid chemical peels are a better choice as they are less likely to cause irritation.

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What Should You Expect During a Chemical Peel?

Before applying a chemical peel solution your skin will be thoroughly cleaned and then the acid solution left on for around 15 minutes. During this time the skin should be carefully monitored to ensure that no irritation is occurring. It will then be washed off and either cold compresses or mild lotion applied. After the procedure you may experience some redness of the skin which should clear up in about a day at the most. During the next few days the skin will flake as the top layer of dead cells sloughs off. You should always use a sunscreen after a chemical peel as your skin will be more sensitive to the sun which could result in irritation, redness or other side effects. It is also best to avoid cigarette smoke for the same reasons.


Most salicylic acid and glycolic acid chemical peels are safe to use although only glycolic acid peels are recommended for use at home. You should always follow instructions either on the product itself or from the salon where you have the treatment to ensure you do not suffer from unwanted side effects.