Understanding Chemical Peels and Skin Peels

By Dr. Raquel Amado on the 23rd March 2023

A chemical peel, also known as a skin peel, is a fantastic way to give your skin its natural glow back while tackling ageing concerns and promoting better skin health.


What are chemical peels and how do they benefit skin?

Chemical peels are designed to exfoliate your skin at different depths using specially formulated acids. They are applied gently to the face to remove dead skin cells and encourage new cells to grow, making your skin look fresher, younger and more evenly textured.

Chemical peels are also a great way to treat acne, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sun damage and melasma.

There are three types of chemical peels:

Superficial (or light)

The gentlest option, removing only the top epidermal layer of skin. We specialise in superficial and medium peels here at Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics.

Ingredients: Superficial peels generally use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) as they can lightly exfoliate the skin with little downtime.

Examples of AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, citric acid and phytic acid. All help to treat hyperpigmentation, acne, poor tone and texture.

The most popular BHA is salicylic acid thanks to its anti-bacterial properties which work wonders on acne-prone skin, while other BHAs include tropic acid, beta hydroxybutanoic acid and trethocanic acid.

Retinoic acid can also be used in superficial peels. As a type of retinoid derived from vitamin A, retinoic acid is game-changer when it comes to improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

When combined, these ingredients can really enhance skin quality and leave you with a refreshed, glowing appearance.

Side effects: your skin may be slightly red, swollen and itchy after a superficial chemical peel, but this will settle within 24 hours, and you can generally wear make-up again the next day. Within four to seven days, you should see the full effect of the peel.


Reaches the top dermal layers of your skin (the bit in the middle).

Ingredients: medium-depth chemical peels most commonly use trichloroacetic acid (TCA), which can be used at various depths tailored to your needs.

Jessner’s solution is another option that combines salicylic acid, lactic acid and resorcinol to work together to address your skin concerns, while a pyruvic acid peel is also an effective way to rejuvenate more significant skin damage.

Side effects: expect to look quite red and swollen following a medium-depth peel. Your skin is likely to sting and will start to crust and develop brown spots as the peel takes effect. Downtime generally lasts seven to 14 days after treatment.


Goes right down to the reticular dermis which sits just above your fat layer.

Ingredients: phenol is the main acid used for deep peels – it can dramatically improve prominent lines and wrinkles, severe acne scars and extensive sun damage.

Side effects: expect your skin to peel for at least two to three weeks and be prepared to manage severe redness for a few months. Other side effects can include crusting, oozing, swelling, itchiness, stinging, burning and throbbing sensations – this type of peel can be hugely effective but is a lot more risky and takes serious commitment!

It is usually conducted in a hospital setting where you’ll be given IV fluids and your heart rate can be closely monitored. Deep peels aren’t something we offer at Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics, but we can recommend other less-invasive treatments that still provide effective results.



How do I know which chemical peel is right for me?

At Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics, we will carefully assess your skin colour, tone, texture and concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, acne and hyperpigmentation. This will help us determine what peel will produce the best results – in the safest way possible – for your individual skin type.


What can I expect during my chemical peel treatment?

Once you’ve had your consultation and confirmed which chemical peel is right for you, your practitioner will recommend certain skincare products that will prepare the skin for treatment. You’ll be asked to use these for a few weeks leading up to your appointment, stopping the use of active ingredients such as retinol for at least 24 hours beforehand to avoid irritation.

On the day of your treatment, your skin is cleansed which removes sebum and allows for deeper surface penetration.

Following preparations, a peel solution is applied to your skin which is likely to cause a tingling sensation. This is a perfectly normal reaction which, for non-aggressive chemical peels like the ones we offer at Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics, lasts no longer than a few minutes.

To complete the treatment, your peel is removed before we apply a neutralisation spray to prevent any further penetration. Some peel solutions, however, are self-neutralising and will naturally stop working by themselves.

Following a successful chemical peel treatment, you can expect to experience mild skin redness which should return to normal within 24 to 48 hours.

For a few days after treatment, your skin will likely feel tight and dry – the extent of which is dependent on the depth of your treatment.

At Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics, with some of our peels we provide patients with a post-procedure pack of skincare essentials to use over a five-day period. These help to nourish skin and boost results.


Can you combine a chemical peel with other treatments?

Yes, you can absolutely combine skin peels with other treatments, and this is something we often recommend at Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics.

We can use dermal fillers to lift and contour sagging skin, while anti-wrinkle injections can address more stubborn lines that chemical peels can’t shift.


How much does a chemical peel cost?

The price of a chemical peel will vary depending on the clinic and will be influenced by different factors, including:

  • Strength of peel
  • Quality of products
  • Practitioner experience
  • Number of treatments

While some clinics may promote single sessions, we prefer to offer a bespoke package of treatments to help you achieve the best results possible. After assessing your skin concerns, we’ll discuss the options in more detail at your consultation.


If you’d like to learn more about how chemical peels can boost your skin quality, click here to book a consultation with Dr Raquel Skin and Medical Cosmetics today.

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