Chemical Peel Advantages: The Pros and Cons of Light, Medium, and Deep Peels

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Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the face in order to improve the appearance of the skin in a variety of ways. They come in a variety of strengths and use different types of acids, some of which are better suited for certain skin types than others. All strengths, however, provide chemical peel benefits.

Knowing your options can assist you in selecting a chemical peel that will effectively address your skin concerns while minimizing the risk of unwanted side effects.

  • Chemical peels are classified as light, medium, or deep.
  • Lighter peels help to reduce acne and mild acne scars, as well as brighten and smooth the skin’s texture.
  • Medium peels are useful for treating deeper scars, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines.
  • Deep peels are effective for treating severe sun damage, scars, and wrinkles.

Chemical Peels and Their Varieties

Chemical peels are classified into three types based on their strength: light, medium, and deep. The ingredients in your peel, as well as the length of time it is on the skin, determine its strength, the amount of downtime required, and the type of results you can expect.

Some acids are only used for one type of peel, while others, depending on the concentration, can be used for multiple types.

Some of the most common acids and the concentrations at which they are used are as follows:

  • Mandelic acid is a light acid.
  • Salicylic acid – mild to moderate
  • Glycolic acid – mild to moderate
  • Medium is Jessner’s solution.
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) – a medium to strong acid.
  • Phenol – intense
  1. Advantages of a Light Chemical Peel

A light chemical peel penetrates the stratum corneum, the topmost layer of the epidermis, to improve the skin’s appearance on a superficial level. Someone who wants to resolve minor issues with little to no recovery time is the ideal candidate.

  • Blemishes are reduced A light peel can help to reduce the visibility of small acne lesions on the skin. The best peel for this problem is salicylic acid in low concentrations.
  • Skin is brightened Only one light peel is required to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation such as dark spots or freckles. Skin will appear clearer and smoother a few days after the peel.
  • Breakout controls When you use a salicylic acid peel, your skin will temporarily produce less sebum, the oil that contributes to acne formation.
  • Quick recovery time You may experience a day of redness and light sensitivity after a light peel. However, the side effects are minor enough that you should be able to continue with your regular activities.
  • Light chemical peels’ risks and side effects Light peels pose few risks: infection is extremely unlikely when compared to stronger peels. Temporary redness, mild peeling, and light sensitivity are common side effects that fade after a few days. These side effects may be more pronounced if you have sensitive skin.
  1. Advantages of a Medium Chemical Peel

Medium peels penetrate the papillary dermis, below the epidermis, to treat deeper skin issues that light peels cannot address. Someone with acne scarring, melasma, hyperpigmentation, or any of the various signs of aging is a good candidate for a medium peel.

  • Acne scarring is reduced A medium peel is used to treat small or shallow scars caused by acne lesions. It is most effective for rolling or boxcar scars and can improve skin smoothness significantly.
  • Medium peels, on the other hand, cannot treat deep ice pick scars or raised, keloid scars.
  • Hyperpigmentation is reduced A medium peel can treat sunspots, freckles, melasma, and other forms of hyperpigmentation more effectively than a light peel. A medium peel effectively reverses sun damage to give the skin a more youthful appearance.
  • It aids in wrinkle reduction medium peels help to smooth out wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. TCA or Jessner’s solution can be used separately for this purpose, but recent research has shown that they work best when used together. The peel can be repeated after a few months for the best results, but a significant change in appearance can be achieved with just one treatment.

Medium chemical peel risks and side effects A medium peel has a higher risk of infection than a light peel because it penetrates deeper into the skin; however, they are still considered quite safe.

The severity of the side effects is determined by the peel’s strength and length. Redness, swelling, crusting, itching, and peeling are some of the symptoms. These side effects should subside within two weeks.

Medium peels can occasionally cause redness that lasts for months. In some cases, they may lighten the skin by exfoliating dark spots, but they can also darken the skin by causing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Peels can also trigger a herpes virus flare-up, which causes cold sores. If you have had cold sores in the past, you may be given an antiviral medication prior to your procedure. Consult your dermatologist to see if a medium peel is appropriate for your skin.

Benefits of a Deep Chemical Peel

Deep peels reach the dermis’s lower layer, known as the reticular dermis. This peel is best suited for people who have skin issues such as deep scars or wrinkles that cannot be treated with milder peels or other skin resurfacing techniques.

Deep peels necessitate sedation, have a lengthy recovery period, and carry the risk of complications, but they provide dramatic results for scarring and sun damage issues.

  • Reverses photodamage A deep peel can reduce or eliminate wrinkles, crow’s feet, marionette lines, and age spots. To remove accumulated damage, the peel penetrates deeply into the skin.
  • Precancerous growths are removed. Aside from cosmetic purposes, a deep chemical peel can be used to remove precancerous skin growths.
  • Deep scars are reduced. While a deep peel can help to reduce deep acne scars, it is not the best solution for this skin concern due to the permanent skin changes associated with the procedure.

Other treatments, such as laser therapy and microdermabrasion, are recommended instead. These therapies achieve comparable results while having far fewer side effects and risks, as well as no post-procedure skin sensitivity.

Deep chemical peels: dangers and side effects

After a deep peel, you will experience burning, throbbing, redness, and severe swelling. Your eyelids may swell shut, and cysts and white spots may appear on your skin.

Within two weeks of the procedure, new skin will cover the treated area. This new skin will be sensitive to sunlight and may appear temporarily darker or lighter than your natural skin tone.

Deep chemical peels pose the greatest risk of infection. You’ll schedule several follow-up appointments with your doctor to ensure that the healing process goes smoothly.

Your new skin will remain sun-sensitive and will most likely lose its ability to tan. As a result, sunscreen should be applied to your skin on a daily basis for the rest of your life.

Deep peels are not recommended for people with dark skin due to the risk of permanent skin discoloration.

Chemical Peels DIY

Chemical peels can be done at home; however, administering a peel without professional supervision is risky.

Products found in pharmacies or beauty supply stores are the safest at-home options. These products, which are commonly found in the form of wipes, masks, and serums, typically contain low concentrations of glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid.

Although the results of at-home products are not as dramatic as those of a professional peel, they are less expensive than an in-office treatment and can improve the appearance of your skin if used consistently as part of your skincare routine.

Avoid products labeled “professional strength” from untrustworthy online distributors. These products have not been approved for safe at-home use, and they pose a significant risk of chemically burning your skin.

DIY recipes, on the other hand, such as applying milk to your face for lactic acid, are essentially harmless, but it may take months of consistent use to see results.


Chemical peels can improve the appearance of the skin by reducing acne scars, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. The severity of the skin issues you want to address determines whether you choose a light, medium, or deep peel.

Light peels produce milder results with no downtime. Medium peels can produce more dramatic results but may necessitate up to two weeks of recovery time, whereas deep peels are a more serious treatment that may necessitate sedation, regular follow-up visits with a doctor, and more than a month of recovery time, as well as the possibility of permanent changes to your skin’s tone and inability to tan.

You can try at-home peeling agents found in pharmacies and beauty supply stores as an alternative to professional chemical peels. These products require consistent use to produce results, but they are much less expensive than in-office treatments.

Consult a dermatologist to determine the strength of chemical peel that will best address your skin’s needs.