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Chemical Peel for Acne: Is It Right for You?

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. For many, it can be a source of embarrassment, discomfort, and even pain. While countless remedies and treatments are available, not all are created equal.

One treatment that has gained traction in recent years is the chemical peel for acne. This powerful and transformative treatment can lead to clear, radiant skin that can leave you feeling confident and beautiful.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of chemical peels for acne, including the different types, benefits, and frequently asked questions. By the end of this article, you'll be well-equipped with the knowledge needed to embark on your journey to an acne-free, glowing complexion.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Available in various depths, chemical peels can effectively treat acne and acne scars by exfoliating the skin and unclogging pores.

  • Natural alternatives like fruit enzyme peels and lactic acid from yogurt offer gentler options for mild to moderate acne and sensitive skin.

  • Combining chemical peels with complementary treatments like microdermabrasion, light therapy, or micro-needling can enhance overall results and address various acne-related issues.

  • Exposed Skin Care provides a comprehensive, balanced approach to acne management, combining natural extracts and scientifically proven ingredients for all skin types.

Treatment of acne in adolescents facial peeling

The Magic of Chemical Peels: An Overview

A chemical peel is a skin treatment that involves applying a chemical solution to the skin's surface. The solution causes the outer layers of skin to peel away, revealing fresh, new skin underneath. This process encourages cell turnover, exfoliation, and collagen production, improving skin texture and tone.

Types of Chemical Peels for Acne

Several types of chemical peels are available, each targeting various skin disorders and acne concerns. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the different types of peels and their benefits:

Light (Superficial) Peels

  • Utilizes mild acids, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or salicylic mandelic acid peels, to gently exfoliate the skin's surface

  • Removes dead skin cells, promoting a fresh, radiant complexion

  • Suitable for all skin types, including darker skin types and mild acne conditions

  • Minimal downtime and side effects

Medium (Medium Depth) Peels

  • It incorporates stronger acids, like trichloroacetic acid (TCA), for deeper penetration

  • Targets moderate acne, scarring, uneven skin tone, and certain skin disorders

  • Can effectively treat acne scars and improve overall skin texture

  • Moderate downtime and potential side effects, including redness and peeling

Chemical peel face skincare treatment

Deep Peels

  • Uses the most potent solution, typically phenol or a high concentration of TCA, for the most dramatic results

  • Ideal for severe acne, deep scars, and deep wrinkles

  • Can treat acne scarring and other severe skin disorders

  • Longer downtime and increased risk of side effects, including scarring and pigmentation changes, especially for darker skin types

Salicylic Mandelic Acid Peels

  • Combines the power of salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), and mandelic acid, an AHA, for a highly effective peel

  • Works to treat acne by unclogging pores, reducing inflammation, and removing dead skin cells

  • Suitable for various skin types, including sensitive and darker skin tones

  • It may be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other peels for enhanced results

By understanding the unique benefits and potential drawbacks of each type of chemical peel, you can decide more about the best option for treating your acne and achieving the clear, radiant skin you desire.

Unveiling the Benefits of Chemical Peels for Acne

Chemical peels offer numerous benefits for those struggling with acne. Here are some of the most significant advantages:

Enhanced Skin Clarity and Radiance

By removing the outer layers of skin, chemical peels promote cell turnover and reveal a fresh, glowing complexion. This process can help to reduce the appearance of acne scars and improve overall skin texture.

Reduced Acne Breakouts

The exfoliating properties of chemical peels can help unclog pores and remove acne-causing bacteria, resulting in fewer breakouts over time.

Decreased Inflammation and Redness

Chemical peels can help reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne, leading to a more even skin tone and improved appearance.

Increased Collagen Production

By stimulating collagen production, chemical peels can help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Enjoying healthy skin with collagen

Preparing for Your Chemical Peel for Acne

Before diving into a deep chemical peel for acne, it's essential to be well-prepared. Here are some tips for getting ready for your treatment:

Choose the Right Peel for You

As mentioned earlier, different types of chemical peels are available, each with unique benefits and potential side effects.

Proper Skincare Before Treatment

In the weeks leading up to your chemical peel, it's crucial to follow a consistent skincare routine. Use gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreen to protect your skin and ensure it's in the best possible condition before your treatment. Avoid harsh exfoliants or acne medications, as these can increase your skin's sensitivity to the peel.

Chemical Peel for Acne Aftercare

Proper aftercare is critical to the success of your chemical peel for acne.

Here are some tips for ensuring a smooth recovery:

Follow Post-Treatment Instructions

Your skincare professional will provide you with specific instructions for post-treatment care. Follow these guidelines closely to minimize the risk of complications and maximize your results.

Keep Your Skin Hydrated and Protected

In the days following your peel, your skin may be more sensitive than usual. Keep it well-hydrated with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer, and protect it from the sun with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

Avoid Picking and Scratching

As tempting as it may be, resisting the urge to pick or scratch at any peeling skin is crucial. Doing so can increase the risk of scarring and infection and may hinder wound healing.

Be Patient with Results

While some improvements may be visible immediately after your chemical peel, it's essential to remember that the full effects of the treatment may take several weeks to become apparent. Be patient and give your skin time to heal and regenerate.

Woman using laptop at home relaxing

Natural Alternatives to Chemical Peels for Acne

While chemical peels are an effective treatment for acne, some individuals may prefer to explore natural alternatives that can be done at home.

These options may be less potent than professional chemical peels but can still benefit those with mild to moderate acne.

Here are some natural alternatives to consider:

Fruit Enzyme Peels

Fruits such as papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin contain enzymes that can gently exfoliate the skin and unclog pores.

To create a fruit enzyme peel at home, blend the fruit into a puree and apply it to your face, leaving it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. This treatment can help to brighten the complexion and reduce the appearance of acne.

Lactic Acid from Yogurt

Yogurt contains lactic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that can help exfoliate the skin and improve acne.

To use yogurt as a natural peel, apply a thin layer of plain, unsweetened yogurt to your face, let it sit for 10-20 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water. This treatment can also help soothe inflammation and redness associated with acne.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) contains acetic acid, which can help to exfoliate the skin and reduce acne-causing bacteria. To use ACV as a natural chemical peel, dilute it with equal parts water, and then apply the mixture to your face with a cotton pad.

Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. Be sure to use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar for the best results.

DIY Aspirin Mask

Aspirin contains salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that can help to unclog pores and reduce inflammation. To create a DIY aspirin mask, crush a few uncoated aspirin tablets and mix them with a small amount of water to form a paste.

Apply the paste to your face, focusing on acne-prone areas, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. This treatment can help to improve the appearance of acne and reduce inflammation.

A young woman applies DIY aspirin mask

While these natural alternatives can benefit acne-prone skin, they may not be as effective as professional chemical peels. It's essential to be patient with the results and be consistent with your treatments to see improvements.

Additionally, always patch-test these alternatives on a small skin area to ensure you do not experience an adverse reaction.

Complementary Acne Treatments to Enhance Chemical Peel Results

Chemical peels are a popular and effective acne treatment for various skin types, but they may not fully address all aspects of active acne vulgaris, inflammatory acne, or other skin disorders.

To enhance the results of chemical peels, it's essential to consider complementary treatments targeting specific skin conditions and providing a more comprehensive approach to achieving healthy skin.

Here are some complementary treatments to consider:


Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that uses a machine to exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin gently. This treatment can improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of acne scars, making it a suitable complementary treatment for those who have undergone medium or deep chemical peels. Microdermabrasion is safe for most skin types, including sensitive and dark-skinned patients.

Woman having microdermabrasion facial treatment

Light Therapy

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy or LED therapy, uses specific wavelengths of light to target acne-causing bacteria and decrease inflammation. Blue light therapy, in particular, has decreased sebum production, making it an effective complementary treatment for individuals with oily skin or persistent acne. Light therapy can be used with peeling agents to enhance the overall efficacy of acne treatments.


Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that uses tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries in the skin, stimulating collagen production and promoting skin regeneration.

This treatment can help reduce the appearance of acne scars and improve skin texture, making it a suitable option for those who have undergone deep chemical peels. Microneedling is generally safe for most skin types but may not be recommended for those with active inflammatory acne or certain skin conditions.

Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids, derived from vitamin A, can help to unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and decrease sebum production. When used with chemical peels, retinoids can enhance the overall effectiveness of acne treatments.

However, it's essential to consult with a professional before combining retinoids with peeling agents, as this combination may cause irritation or other side effects, especially for sensitive skin.

Oral Medications

In some cases, oral medications such as antibiotics or hormonal treatments may be necessary to complement chemical peel treatments, particularly for those with severe acne or other skin disorders that are not fully addressed by topical treatments alone.

By incorporating complementary acne treatments into your skincare regimen, you can maximize the effectiveness of chemical peels and achieve clearer, healthier skin. Always consult with a professional before combining treatments to ensure the best results and minimize the risk of side effects.

Chemical Peels for Acne-Prone Body Areas

While facial acne is often the primary concern for many individuals, acne can also affect other body areas, such as the back, chest, and shoulders. These areas are prone to breakouts due to the high concentration of hair follicles and sebaceous glands, which can become clogged and inflamed.

Chemical peels can effectively treat acne-prone body areas by exfoliating the skin, unclogging pores, and reducing post-acne scarring. Here's what you need to know about using chemical peels on these body areas:

Choosing the Right Peeling Solution

When treating acne-prone body areas, selecting a peeling solution suitable for the specific area being treated is essential. For instance, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), such as salicylic acid, are particularly effective at penetrating and clearing clogged pores in oilier areas like the back and chest.

On the other hand, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), like glycolic acid, can treat acne and superficial scarring on the shoulders and upper arms. Other treatements for body acne are also available, such as Exposed Skin Care's Body Kit.


Exposed Skin Care Body Kit


Adjusting Treatment Techniques

The skin on the body is generally thicker and less sensitive than facial skin. As a result, chemical peels for acne-prone body areas may require higher concentrations of the peeling solution or longer application times to achieve the desired results.

However, it's essential to follow your dermatologist's guidance and not overdo it, as this can increase the risk of side effects or complications.

Aftercare and Recovery

Like facial chemical peels, aftercare ensures optimal results when treating acne-prone body areas. Keep the treated area clean, moisturized, and protected from the sun, and avoid picking or scratching at any peeling skin.

Depending on the depth of the peel, you may experience redness, peeling, and mild discomfort for several days following the treatment. Follow your dermatologist's aftercare instructions to minimize side effects and promote healing.

Hispanic woman in front of a mirror cleaning her face

Chemical peels can be a valuable treatment option for acne-prone body areas, helping to unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and improve post-acne scarring. 

Exposed Skin Care: A Comprehensive Solution for Managing Acne

Exposed Skin Care is an acne treatment system designed to address various acne-related concerns while promoting overall skin health. Exposed Skin Care offers a practical and gentle solution for managing acne by using a unique blend of natural and scientific ingredients.

Exposed Skin Care Expanded Kit

Here are some of the benefits of using this innovative skincare system:

  • Combines natural and scientific ingredients: Exposed Skin Care harnesses the power of natural extracts, such as green tea, tea tree oil, and aloe vera, alongside scientifically proven acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to provide a balanced, effective treatment.

  • Targets multiple acne causes: This skincare system addresses various factors contributing to acne, including excess oil production, inflammation, and bacteria, ensuring comprehensive acne management.

  • Promotes healthy skin: In addition to treating acne, Exposed Skin Care nourishes and repairs the skin, helping to prevent future breakouts and maintain a clear, radiant complexion.

  • Suitable for all skin types: The gentle formula is designed to work effectively on all skin types, from sensitive to oily, without causing excessive irritation or dryness.

  • Simple, step-by-step system: The Exposed Skin Care system includes a straightforward regimen that is easy to follow, ensuring users can maintain a consistent routine for optimal results.

By incorporating Exposed Skin Care into your daily skincare routine, you can effectively manage acne while promoting overall skin health, leading to a clearer, more radiant complexion.


Achieving clear and healthy skin can be challenging, but incorporating treatments like chemical peels for acne and complementary therapies can significantly improve your skin's appearance and texture.

By exploring various chemical peel options, such as a superficial peel, medium, or deep peels, and understanding their specific applications, you can determine the most suitable treatment for your acne concerns.

Natural alternatives to chemical peels, like fruit enzyme peels or lactic acid from yogurt, provide gentler options for those with mild to moderate acne or sensitive skin. Combining chemical peels with other treatments like microdermabrasion, light therapy, or micro-needling can enhance overall results and help address a range of acne-related issues, including post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.

In addition to facial treatments, chemical peels can also effectively treat acne-prone body areas, such as the back, chest, and shoulders, by selecting the right chemical peeling solution and working with a board-certified dermatologist. Moreover, comprehensive skincare solutions like Exposed Skin Care can provide a well-rounded approach to managing acne while promoting overall skin health.

By implementing these strategies and carefully tailoring your skincare routine to your specific needs, you can effectively manage acne and achieve the clear, radiant complexion you've always desired. Remember to be patient and consistent with your treatments; achieving optimal results takes time and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chemical Peel for Acne

How many chemical peels are needed for acne?

The number of chemical peels needed to improve your acne significantly depends on the severity of your condition and the type of peel used. Most people generally require 3 to 6 treatments of medium peels, spaced about 4 to 6 weeks apart, to achieve the best results.

Are there any side effects of chemical peels for acne?

While chemical peels are generally safe and well-tolerated, some side effects may occur, including redness, peeling, and sensitivity. More severe side effects, such as scarring and pigmentation changes, are less common but can occur with deeper peels.

It's essential to consult with a qualified professional and follow pre- and post-treatment instructions to minimize the risk of complications.

Can I use chemical peels for acne if I have sensitive skin?

Yes. Individuals with sensitive skin can still benefit from chemical peels for acne. However, it's essential to choose a gentle, light peel. Also, work with a qualified professional who can guide you through the process to ensure the best results with minimal irritation.

How much does a chemical peel for acne cost?

The cost of a chemical peel for acne varies depending on the type of peel and the provider's expertise. Light peels can cost between $100 and $300, while medium and deep peels may range from $500 to $2,000 or more.