What is a chemical peel?

The phrase ‘chemical peel’ is used to describe a simple technique that is used to improve the appearance of the skin.

Chemical peels involve a chemical solution being applied to the skin – usually the face, neck or hands – which promotes exfoliation. The chemical solution is then peeled off to reveal smoother, fresher, more radiant and less wrinkled skin.

Different types of chemical peel

There are three different types of chemical peel – light, medium and deep peels.

Light peels

Sometimes referred to as ‘superficial’ or ‘lunchtime’ peels (because they are so simple and gentle they can be done during your lunch break), light chemical peels involve a mild acid – usually alpha-hydroxy acid – that only penetrates and exfoliates the outer layer of skin.

Light chemical peel treatments are used to refresh rough skin and improve any mild skin discolouration on the face, neck, chest or hands. As such they are a great “pick me up” for the skin and are popular for people planning a night out or a special event. They can help to close open pores and tighten the skin.

Medium peels

These involve glycolic or Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) which works on the outer as well as the middle layers of skin.

Medium chemical peels are commonly used to improve wrinkles, age spots, freckles, fine lines and moderate skin discoloration as well as smoothing rough skin. They can even be used to treat some pre-cancerous skin growths such as actinic keratosis.

Medium peels are usually applied once weekly for 4 weeks. After this course of treatment the skin visibly becomes more uniform in colour and conditions such as acne can be dramatically improved. These peels are suitable for the face, neck, décolletage and the backs of the hands.

Deep peels

This involves either TCA or phenol being applied to the face to remove damaged skin cells deep in the middle layer of skin.

Deep chemical peels can remove age spots, freckles and lines as well as shallow scars (particularly acne scars) and will result in a dramatic improvement in skin appearance.

A deep peel can only be performed once, and the procedure is only carried out on the face.

What are chemical peels used for?

Chemical peels can be used to treat a wide range of skin conditions.

Some of the most common include:

  • Acne scars
  • Aging skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Crow's feet
  • Shallow scars
  • Sun damaged skin
  • Sagging skin

Do chemical peels hurt?

When treated with a chemical peel you will feel a slight stinging sensation, but they do not cause anything even approaching a great deal of pain.

The strongest type of TCA and phenol peels – those which are used to remove wrinkles, pigment problems and blemishes – sting more than the gentler peels, and following the treatments you may suffer from some redness and irritation, but again any pain is usually very mild.

Chemical peels after-care

All chemical peel treatments will require some form of follow-up care:

Light/superficial peels – require between 1-7 days to fully heal. Lotion or cream can be applied until the skin has healed, and the use of sunscreen is also recommended after that. Normal make-up can usually be applied the day after a light chemical peel.

Medium peels – 7-14 days are required for the skin to fully heel, and the skin may initially be slightly red and swollen for up to 48 hours following the treatment. The skin should be soaked on a daily basis and the application of ointment will be recommended.

Deep peels – these require between 14-21 days to heal and the treated area may need to be bandaged to protect it. The skin should be soaked 4-6 times a day and ointment should be applied for the first 14 days. Following that a strong/thick moisturiser is applied for the next 14 days and anti-viral medication may be prescribed. Several follow-up appointments will be needed to assess and monitor the recovery progress.

Chemical peels cost

The costs of our chemical peel treatments are as follows:

Light chemical peel – £60

Mid-deep peel – £145

Mid-deep peel x 4 – £450