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Chemical peels

Chemical peels work by removing the top layers of skin, so skin cells unaffected by surface aging and damage can emerge.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: June 26, 2012

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.

Superficial Chemical Peels Mild chemical agents remove a thin layer of skin, unveiling a smoother, more evenly toned complexion beneath
Treatment Description Cost
AHA peel When Cleopatra bathed in goat's milk to clear her skin, the Queen of Egypt had the right...more AHA peels are among the mildest chemical peels available. A single AHA (alpha-hydroxy-acid)...more
BHA peel A BHA peel (scientifically known as beta hydroxy acid) is one of the gentlest chemical peels...more A single BHA peel costs $100 to $450. While some treatments are priced per appointment,...more
Jessners peel The Jessner, Jessner's or Jessners peel (any usage is fine) was invented by Dr. Max Jessner...more Dermatologists charge from $100 to $500 for a single Jessners peel. Cost is generally based...more
LHA peel The lipo-hydroxy-acid peel (LHA) is a chemical peel that can improve the...more One LHA peel costs about $100. Dermatologists will normally discount a full regimen of...more

Medium Depth Chemical Peels Moderate strength chemical peels pave away fine wrinkles and skin blemishes brought on by natural wear and tear
Treatment Description Cost
Obagi blue peel The Obagi blue peel, named for its creator, dermatologist Zein Obagi, is a variant of the more The Obagi blue peel is applied in one to four layers. Some physicians will charge $100 to...more
TCA peel A TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peel is a medium depth chemical peel that strips away the outer...more If the TCA peel in performed in a professional setting, the procedure can cost between $500...more

Deep Chemical Peels Deep chemical peels target wrinkles, scars and skin discolorations with results similar to those achieved via dermabrasion and newer laser procedures
Treatment Description Cost
Phenol peel A phenol peel is the deepest and most severe type of chemical peel available, using...more $2,000 to $4,000. Treatment of a smaller area will cost less.
Retinoic acid peel Skin irregularities like acne scars, wrinkles and sunspots are an...more A single retinoic treatment costs between $75 and $150. The procedure is most effective...more

What It's Good For

Recommended Uses
Name Description Cost
Acne scars Chemical peels resurface the skin using concentrated acid to remove the top layers. By damaging the scar tissue in a controlled manner, and encouraging collagen growth, skin is forced to grow...more Various types of chemical peels can cost up to $4,000.
Crow's feet Chemical peels are another good way to resurface the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, including crow’s feet. Shallow to moderate crow’s feet should be treated with a...more Chemical peels range in cost, to as low as $30 for a Jessners Peel to as much as $4,000 for...more
Dark circles under eyes In general, chemical peels are minimally effective in treating hyperpigmentation. The skin under the eye is very thin and sensitive, so strong peels (like phenol peels) should be avoided. ...more Chemical peels range from as low as $30 to as much as $4,000.
Neck wrinkles Chemical peels resurface the skin and reduce the severity of neck wrinkles. For shallow to moderate neck wrinkles, a medium-strength chemical peel, such as a TCA or Jessner's peel, may be...more Chemical peels can cost up to $4,000.

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