Some treatments seem best left to the pros, right? I mean, let’s be honest, even the title of this blog seems a bit scary. You may be asking “In what futuristic, crazy world would an inexperienced lay-person apply chemicals to their own face at home with the goal of peeling their skin off???”

That futuristic – not so crazy – world is right here. Right now. It’s 2023 folks, and more and more people are taking their skincare needs into their own hands.

Skincare companies are creating chemical peel products for at-home use. These next-generation, at-home peels are milder than their in-office relatives, but when done consistently, they yield some pretty amazing results.

Why do chemical peels?

Chemical peels have been shown to improve skin texture by decreasing pore size and reducing small bumps. They also treat melasma, lighten dark spots, and even-out skin tone. Collagen is stimulated, which improves fine lines and wrinkles. A chemical peel also works, in unclogging pores, to treat existing acne and help prevent future outbreaks.

So how exactly do chemical peels work?

Chemical peels affect two layers of the skin: the epidermis – the visible outer layer, and the dermis – which lays just underneath the epidermis. The acid from the peel breaks the bonds between skin cells, which causes the older skin cells to exfoliate and brings the newer, healthier cells to the surface.

So now that we know how it works and why we would want to do chemical peels…

How do you know which peel to use?

Which type of chemical peel you use really depends on what type of skin you have (normal, combination, dry, oily/acne-prone), as well as what areas of concern are you trying to treat (fine lines and wrinkles, skin tone and texture, or acne). And choosing which peel to use begins with understanding a little bit about the nature of the particular acids used.

There are three major groups of chemical peels:

    These include glycolic, lactic, mandelic acids.
    Salicylic acid is the only type of BHA used in skincare.
    These mild acids are found in skincare serums and toners.


AHAs are the most popular type of peels. There are three main types of AHA, depending on how large the molecule is. The smaller the molecule, the deeper the penetration.

  1. Glycolic Acid:
    This is the most popular type of peel. Used for normal or combination skin, glycolic acid treats a wide variety of problems. Of the AHAs, glycolic acid consists of the smallest molecules, so it penetrates the deepest, but it also has the greatest chance of irritation. It is well-tolerated, however, if used on normal or combination skin.
    My favorites:
    *The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% peeling solution
    *Paula’s Choice 25% AHA + 2% BHA exfoliant peel
  2. Lactic Acid:
    Lactic Acid is an AHA for dry skin. It has a slightly larger molecule, so it doesn’t penetrate as deeply as glycolic acid, which means it has less potential for irritation.
    My favorites:
    *The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
    *Biosance Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid
  3. Mandelic Acid:
    Mandelic Acid is an AHA for sensitive skin. The largest molecule of the three AHAs, it penetrates even less than the others, so it’s great for sensitive skin.
    My favorite:
    *The INKEY List Mandelic Acid Treatment


BHAs are great for oily or acne-prone skin. Salicylic acid is really the only type of BHA used in skincare. So, when you see “salicylic acid” you know that it is a BHA and works great to unclog pores, treat existing acne, and help prevent future outbreaks.
Does that mean you can only use it if you have oily skin? NO! Some of the best anti-aging ingredients were intended to treat acne. Tretinoin (often called Retin-A) was originally prescribed to treat acne. When treating adult acne, doctors noticed that tretinoin was reducing fine lines and wrinkles as well. Today, retinoids (over-the-counter tretinoin) is the number one anti-aging ingredient in skincare.
My favorite:
*Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Lotion and exfoliant


These acids are mostly used in serums and toners. They don’t penetrate deeply which makes them great for sensitive skin, even rosacea-prone skin.
My favorite:
*The INKEY List Polyhydroxy Acid Gentle Exfoliating Toner


How often you peel depends on which type of peel you are using. AHAs such as glycolic or lactic acids can be used once a week or up to two times per week. Whereas BHAs (salicylic acid) can be used daily.

Like all at-home treatments, caution should be used.
Overuse will disrupt the skin barrier, causing inflammation. Using a peel that is too strong for your skin type will also cause over-irritation. At-home chemical peels may sting or tingle a little bit but burning is an indication that the peel is too strong for your skin. Always err on the side of caution. Make sure you read the instructions carefully, and always apply sunscreen!

Welcome to the new age of at-home skincare! The future is here, folks, and it’s not as scary as you would think.

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Live Young,

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