Chemical peels work by removing the top layers of skin, so skin cells unaffected by surface aging and damage can emerge in all their glory. Peels dissolve the bonds holding cells together in the top layers, allowing the skin layer to slough off.
Gentler peels, like glycolic peels and AHAs, can be purchased over the counter in lower concentrations. The stronger the peel, the more intense the effect and the longer the recovery time. The strongest peel, the phenol peel, can cause redness and scabbing for up to three months and can permanently lighten skin if used on tanned or dark skin.
Stronger chemical peels have been decreasing in popularity, because they typically have longer recovery times than treatments with similar effects, like laser skin resurfacing. Medium to strong chemical peels can be used as spot treatments to reduce or eliminate isolated flaws, like a single acne scar or birthmark.
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