Chemical Peel for Acne
During a light-duty chemical peel treatment, the skin is exfoliated using an alpha or beta hydroxy acid. Done in a series, these peels can improve mild to moderately severe cases of acne, and can be given over the face or another body area where acne is a problem. Superficial chemical peels are also used to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin texture and fade discolorations.
How Superficial Chemical Peels Work
Chemical peels don't really peel the skin, despite what the name implies. They rapidly exfoliate the skin, allowing dead skin cells to shed more effectively. By keeping dead skin cells and excess oil from clogging the hair follicle, pore blockages (comedones) and pimples can be reduced.
Your skin care therapist will most likely use glycolic acid as the peeling agent. Glycolic acid is a well-known AHA derived from sugar cane and is used most frequently for light chemical peel treatments.2 But beta hydroxy acid peels are quickly gaining popularity.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are close cousins to AHAs and work in much the same way. BHAs are especially helpful in dissolving excess oil buildup within the pores, and they tend to be less irritating than AHAs. Salicylic acid, a familiar and effective anti-acne ingredient, is the most commonly used BHA for chemical peel treatments.
While they can reduce pore blockages and breakouts, superficial peels are best used as an add-on to your regular acne treatment routine. Unless your breakouts are mild, you'll also need to use a daily acne treatment product to really get those blemishes under control.
What to Expect During Your Peel?
During a light chemical peel treatment, the skin is first thoroughly cleaned and dried. Next, the AHA or BHA is applied to the face. The exfoliating agent is generally thin, almost water-like in its consistency, and is applied with a small brush, cotton pad or large cotton swab.
You will feel a warming sensation soon after the exfoliating agent is applied. Some people say they feel just a slight stinging; others describe it as more of a burning.
We use small, hand-held fans to gently cool the skin during the peel, which can keep you more comfortable during the treatment.
After your peel, your skin will look like it's sunburned. This redness can fade in just a few hours’ time or last up to five days, depending on the strength of the peeling agent used and how long it was left on the skin. It's OK to use makeup to conceal the redness.