The Science Behind a Chemical Peel: What You Need to Know

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The Science Behind a Chemical Peel: What You Need to Know

June 17, 2023


A chemical peel is a popular cosmetic treatment that can help improve the appearance of skin. In fact, it has been one of the most effective aesthetic treatments available today. However, it is important that you understand how it works or the science behind them. So you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

This post aims to provide a thorough explanation on what a chemical peel is. It will also tell you how it works on your skin. And, why they can be effective in getting that desired fresh look. Read on before you make your decision to undergo the treatment.

What is the Science Behind a Chemical Peel?

Chemical peels work by removing the superficial layer of skin using a chemical solution. The chemical solution is more often graded by intensity. This is sometimes called exfoliation but on a different level. It is different from exfoliation that you can do at home. It often involves acidic solution like the following:

Chemical Peel
  • Glycolic acid
  • TCA or trichloroacetic acid
  • Salicylic acid

These are also acids that are contained in most exfoliating products but the intensity is different. As the skin sloughs off from the surface, it can reveal a fresher and more revitalized look.

Can You See Results After One Chemical Peel?

There is no general consensus regarding whether one chemical peel can generate significant results. There is one study that demonstrated an improvement after one session of lactic acid peeling in a study group and Jessner acid peeling in another. In another study, it states that significant improvement has been noticed after two sessions. However, the same study conducted the trial using four sessions spaced in two weeks. Other studies state that it requires multiple sessions in a span of 12 weeks to produce significant results.

This is just to say that chemical peeling doesn’t work uniformly for all patients. So you cannot compare your skin’s progress to other patients.

What Are the Do’s and Don’ts After a Chemical Peel?

It’s important to follow the proper post-care instructions to ensure optimal results. Here are some of the things you need to remember right after treatment:

Keep the skin moisturized (using gentle moisturizer)Do not keep touching, picking, or scratch the treated skin
Use sunblock with SPF 30 or betterDo not exfoliate right after treatment or days to a week after treatment
Follow a skincare routine recommended by the aesthetic providerDo not steam or use hot water on the treated area
Drink plenty of water for hydrationDo not apply makeup or other skincare products not recommended
Use gentle washing techniquesAvoid direct exposure to sunlight or tanning beds
Contact the aesthetic medical professional if you think you have unusual symptomsDo not use harsh or irritating skincare products

It is important to follow this advice to ensure proper healing. And to avoid any complications (if there are) after a chemical peel. Doing so would help the skin fully recover, leaving you with a healthy and glowing complexion.

How Long Does It Take to Look Normal After a Chemical Peel?

The answer varies depending on the type of peel you receive. But typically the recovery time ranges from a couple of days to a few weeks. It’s important to follow the instructions of your skincare provider carefully to ensure the best results.

How Long Do Chemical Peel Results Last?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on several factors, including the following:

  • Type of chemical peel received (graded by intensity)
  • Your skin type
  • Post-treatment or after-care routine

Some chemical peels may provide immediate and long-lasting results. Others may require multiple treatments or touch-ups to maintain their benefits. In general, it is recommended to schedule follow-up appointments with a skincare professional to assess the ongoing effects of a chemical peel. And to determine if additional treatments may be necessary.

What Are the 4 Levels of Chemical Peels?

The table below are the 4 levels of chemical peels:

LevelDepth of PenetrationSkin Issues TreatedAcid Used
SuperficialOutermost layer onlyMild acne, fine lines, and drynessAlpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHA)
MediumOuter and middle layersDeeper wrinkles, age spots, and acne scarsTrichloroacetic acid (TCA)
DeepMiddle layerPrecancerous growths and deep wrinkles or scarsPhenol
CombinationN/AMultiple issuesCombination of different acids

Understanding the different levels of chemical peels can help you choose the one that is right for your skin type and desired outcome.

Is a 30% Chemical Peel Strong?

The strength of a chemical peel depends on various factors like the following:

  • Type of acid used
  • pH of the peel
  • Your skin condition

As such, the 30% chemical peel may be mild for others but strong for you, or the other way around. The most important thing is to consult an expert because things might go wrong for you. An expert will assess your skin first to determine the strength of the chemical peel to use.

How Do I Choose a Chemical Peel?

Choosing a chemical peel depends on different factors. The most important advice here is not to do at-home chemical peeling if you’re unsure. However, some tips would include the following:

  • Determine your skin type and condition (if you are unsure, consult an aesthetic professional)
  • Consider the different types of acid (we have already established earlier the different types of acid used in skin issues)
  • Follow a good skincare routine using gentle and hypoallergenic products

Always do your research and when you’re unsure there will always be an expert willing to help you.


Chemical peels can provide incredible benefits if prepared and performed properly. A chemical peel should never be taken lightly, as even the mildest of peels can have strong damaging effects when not administered by a professional or done according to a doctor’s instructions.

Results can be seen almost immediately, but it can take several days for someone to look back to normal following a chemical peel. Lasting results depend on the type of peel used and the skin type of the patient but are generally known to last from six weeks up to six months.

When selecting a type of peel that works best for you, consider everything from skin type and condition to desired effects; this is where ReplenishMD comes in! Reach out today for an appointment or free consultation, so they can help design a tailored treatment plan perfect for your needs. Make sure you are ready for amazing skin results – book it now!

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