The 18 Best At-Home Chemical Peels (and Why You Need One) - The Dermatology Review

The 18 Best At-Home Chemical Peels (and Why You Need One)

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

03.15.21DISCLAIMER

While you may be familiar with physical and chemical exfoliation, chemical peels work to change your skin on a deeper level. By applying peel solutions of different strengths, this technique exfoliates dead skin cells with the goal of peeling away dermal layers, resulting in fresh (and healthier) new skin. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a chemical peel costs approximately $644 (less for a milder peel that doesn’t require anesthesia), and it has to be performed regularly to maintain results. Peels can treat concerns such as scarring, wrinkles, large pores, and acne. Despite the cost, statistics show that the chemical peel market is expected to grow from 2 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to about 3.1 billion dollars by 2026.

Though at-home peels are typically milder than professional-grade peels performed in a doctor’s office, they contain many of the same ingredients and are more affordable. With regular use, you can achieve desirable results, providing you’re choosing the right formulas — and we’re here to help you out with that.

The List

Formulyst Retexturizing and Perfecting Serum, $39

Strivectin New Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads, $45

The Ordinary AHA/BHA Peeling Solution, $6.80

Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel, $65

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel, $85

Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial, $80

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask, $49

Glymed Plus AHA Accelerator, Professionally Prescribed

Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment, $60

Marini Multi-Acid Resurfacing Peels, $88

O Calm Oja Yuja Hydra Mild Clearing Gel, $28

Savor Beauty Cherry Collagen Peel, $80

REN Glycolic Lactic Radiance New Skin Radiance Mask, $58

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel, $88

Dr. Jart + Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, $42

Olay MASKS Resurfacing Peel Vitamin C + AHA, $26.99

Natrium Mandelic Topical Acid 12%, $20

Lancer Caviar Lime Acid Peel, $95

Benefits of Chemical Peels

While a deep chemical peel administered by a dermatologist will achieve faster and more efficient results, the goals of an at-home chemical treatment are the same, though expect that it will take longer to achieve an outcome due to the strength of the peel.

  • Fade fine lines and wrinkles — even some stubborn ones.
  • Effectively treats acne at a deeper layer.
  • Minimize pores size by removing dead, damaged skin that makes them appear larger.
  • Fades hyperpigmentation more effectively than topical treatments. In some cases, even permanently.
  • Improves skin texture and tone, including the appearance of scarring.

In-Office Versus a Chemical Peel at Home

In-Office Peels
Depending on the type, strength, and acidic PH content, your peel will either be administered by a licensed esthetician if it’s a weaker superficial peel or a physician if it’s a medium-to deep or profound peel. The best professional chemical peels should neither be too weak or too strong for your skin type and condition. To best determine the type of treatment a patient needs, a physician will obtain a detailed history of their past in relation to skin and physical health, lifestyle, and the severity of their condition (acne scarring, wrinkles, etc.)

Superficial Peels: Penetrate the Epidermis
Apha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are the mildest of all chemical peels, and glycolic and lactic acid are typically the most commonly used. Lactic acid is brightening and less irritating than other superficial peels due to its large molecular structure. On the other hand, glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure, and because it can penetrate quickly and more in-depth, it tends to be more irritating. However, it’s useful in treating mild pigmentation concerns and acne and fine lines, dry and dehydrated skin.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), such as the commonly used salicylic acid, are incredibly useful in treating oily and acne-prone skin. They can penetrate oiliness, breaking up blackheads and breakouts. As it’s also anti-inflammatory, it also reduces redness associated with pimples.

Lastly, a Jessner peel is a combination of lactic and salicylic acids and resorcinol, a topical ingredient used to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrhea. They vary in strength and are beneficial for those with rosacea and/or sensitive skin.

Medium Peels: Penetrate the Epidermis and Papillary Dermis
Trichloroacetic Acid Peels (TCA) are one of the most common medium (to medium-deep) peels and are available in various strengths and combinations with other acids. With that said, they’re extremely customizable, which is helpful when treating advanced sun damage, acne scars, wrinkles, and pigmentation issues. As they are more potent than superficial peels, they’re typically administered by a physician.

Deep Peels: Penetrate the Midreticular Dermis
Phenol peels (aka carbolic acid) are the most potent chemical peels you can receive. Therefore they provide the most impressive and long-lasting results — and they don’t necessarily have to be repeated like other peels. As with TCA peels, phenol peels are sometimes mixed with other solutions.

At-Home Chemical Peel Treatment
As mentioned, at-home peels have similar ingredients to in-office peels, but they are less powerful and can only treat the skin’s top (superficial) layers. With that in mind, you’ll have to use the peel multiple times before you start to see a result. Additionally, you can’t customize an at-home treatment. Even so, it’s still important to choose the right type of peel for your skin type, tone, and concerns to avoid an adverse reaction. Chemical burn symptoms include redness, irritation, peeling, blisters, and being painful to the touch.

Precautions When Using a Peel

If you’re getting a professional peel, a licensed esthetician or dermatologist will be able to help direct you into choosing the best peel for your skin type and concerns, as well as tolerance level. Home peels are a bit trickier as it’s more of a guessing game — but that doesn’t mean you still can’t speak to a skincare professional to get advice. Additionally, a patch test is always a good idea when trying a new product — especially one formulated with more potent ingredients.

No matter what type of peel you choose, it’s vital that you’re wearing an SPF with a minimum of 30 so you don’t damage your freshly peeled skin. A mineral-based formula is best as it can be less irritating. Additionally, try to avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most dangerous.

The 18 Best At-Home Chemical Peels

Formulyst Retexturizing and Perfecting Serum, $39
When it comes to exfoliating and deeply cleansing your skin, soluble acid groups like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are more effective than physical exfoliants, which can scratch and irritate your skin. Expertly formulated to exfoliate, clean gently, and refine pores, This serum maximizes an active AHA complex, which helps remove dead cells and visibly reveals the brighter, healthier skin beneath.

Strivectin New Daily Reveal Exfoliating Pads, $45
Four different types of acids (alpha hydroxy, beta hydroxy, polyhydroxy, and tranexamic) boost the skin’s natural exfoliation rate in just three days, resulting in a more even skin tone and glowing complexion. As the peel solution is saturated in micro-peel fiber pads, you get the benefit of physical exfoliation, too.

The Ordinary AHA/BHA Peeling Solution, $6.80
As mandelic acid has a more considerable molecular weight than other AHA’s like glycolic, for example, this superficial peel is suitable for most skin types since it penetrates more slowly. Even so, it shouldn’t be used on sensitive, peeling skin. This formula contains 10% MA, an appropriate percentage for effectively peeling, resulting in a more radiant complexion

Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel, $65
With regular use, this dual-phase peel increases cell turnover by 33% in just one week — more overtime — without excessive dryness and irritation. Phase one is a blend of alpha, beta, and tranexamic acids to remove dead surface cells, improve texture, and brighten, immediately and overtime. Phase two contains antioxidant-rich adaptogenic holy basil and omega-rich oils to protect and strengthen the skin while promoting a more vibrant complexion.

Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel, $85
As the name suggests, this clinically proven peel works quickly to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while promoting radiance. A blend of phytoactive AHA extracts, lactic acid, fermented plant enzymes, Australian caviar lime extract, pumpkin fruit enzyme, and rice bran extracts provide the results of an in-office treatment without any downtime.

Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial, $80
This Drunk Elephant chemical peel works like an in-office treatment at home, thanks to an impressive 25% AHA/2% BHA blend. We’re talking about glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids, making it a great chemical peel for acne, as well as other skin conditions. The Soothing matcha tea, milk thistle, and apple antioxidants give the skin that baby-soft look and feel.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask, $49
This full-strength exfoliating mask helps improve the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, thanks to a potent (and patented) dose of AHAs derived from malic acid extrapolated from organic green apples, lactic and glycolic acids, and salicylic acid. Aside from fighting fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin tone and texture, it just may be the best chemical peel for hyperpigmentation in the home setting.

Glymed Plus AHA Accelerator, Professionally Prescribed
Glycolic acid peel at home? Though you’ll need to see your esthetician or dermatologist to purchase this at-home formula, it’s one of the strongest ones you can use on your own, thanks to 20% glycolic and lactic acids. Suitable for most skin types, this accelerator reduces dull and uneven skin texture, increases firmness and elasticity, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and minimizes pores.

Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment, $60
This cult-favorite peel is powered by a 10% trifecta of glycolic, malic, and lactic acids, as well as natural pumpkin, papaya, and pineapple acids to improve skin tone and texture while minimizing the size of pores. The addition of honey, skin-plumping peptides, and tea extract ensure that your skin looks soft, supple, and radiant despite getting a serious exfoliation.

Marini Multi-Acid Resurfacing Peels, $88
These quadruple-acid peel pads effectively refine skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and pore size. They’re also an excellent option for those with acne (thanks to salicylic acid), including residual scarring. Despite being a powerful at-home peel, aloe, chamomile, and green tea extracts soothe and balance the skin, resulting in a clear, glowing complexion.

O Calm Oja Yuja Hydra Mild Clearing Gel, $28
This new to the scene gentle peel is excellent for those with ultra-sensitive skin who would still like to achieve radiant, hydrated, and refreshed skin. Yuja (think yuzu) oil and fermented Yuja water has ten times more skin-brightening vitamin C than lemons. Additionally, fine particles provide physical exfoliating properties too. It’s also a great option when you want to give your skin a break from more aggressive at-home chemical peels.

Savor Beauty Cherry Collagen Peel, $80
As if the appeasing smell isn’t enough to lure you into using this peel, the fact that it delivers results in just three minutes well. Cherry, pineapple, and papaya enzymes gently dissolve dead skin cells, cherry juice strengthens the skin’s elasticity, and 22 amino acids and pea peptides boost collagen production. It’s suitable for all skin types, including pregnant women looking to elevate their from-within glow.

REN Glycolic Lactic Radiance New Skin Radiance Mask, $58
From papaya and pineapple to cranberry and grapefruit, this gel-like mask is chock-full of powerful fruit acids and oils (the ingredient list speaks for itself), as well as lactic acid to exfoliate, cleanse, and encourage skin radiance. It’s gentle yet effective enough to reduce fine lines and imperfections.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel, $88
These peel pads are among the most popular on the market — and with good reason. They’re saturated with a compelling blend of seven alpha and beta hydroxy acids, sodium hyaluronate, squalene, saccharide isomerate, and Chinese foxglove to effectively target the skin concerns associated with oily or dry skin — or a person dealing with a combination of both. Skin texture and pores become more refined, fine lines and pores are softened, blemishes are under control, and the skin is balanced and more hydrated for up to 72 hours after use.

Dr. Jart + Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, $42
Part chemical peel, part moisturizer, this dual-phase milk power peel harnesses the power of lactic acid to remove dead skin cells, purify pores, and hydrate the skin. Coconut water and dead sea salt provide additional antibacterial and disinfecting properties. It’s gentle enough to be used daily on cleansed skin; remove after one minute.

Olay MASKS Resurfacing Peel Vitamin C + AHA, $26.99
Don’t be deceived by a drugstore buy. This two-step Olay chemical peel starts with a vitamin C resurfacing mask to exfoliate and renew and is followed by an AHA peel activator to accelerate the exfoliation process while removing dirt, oil, and impurities without intense scrubbing. It reveals brighter, smoother, and more radiant skin after just one use, much like a professional spa treatment.

Natrium Mandelic Topical Acid 12%, $20
Mandelic acid is a good choice for sensitive skin because it has a larger molecular size than other AHAs, meaning it doesn’t absorb into the skin quite as fast. This formula ups the ante by adding niacinamide to help prevent dryness and irritation while targeting fine lines, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation caused by blemishes and photoaging.

Lancer Caviar Lime Acid Peel, $95
Potent glycolic and phytic acids work together with pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes to resurface and moisturize the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The skin is left softer, smoother, and more radiant. And what’s caviar lime, you ask? It’s an ingredient often used in skincare products (like peels) to exfoliate, improve tone and elasticity, and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dullness.

At-Home Chemical Peels: The Bottom Line

By applying peel solutions of different strengths, professional chemical peels exfoliate dead skin cells to the point that eventually, the top dermal layers peel away, resulting in fresh, soft, healthy new skin. Though at-home peels are typically milder than professional-grade peels performed in a doctor’s office, as they contain many of the same ingredients and are more affordable. With regular use, you can achieve desirable results, providing you’re choosing the right formulas.

Depending on the type, strength, and acidic PH content, your peel will either be administered by a licensed esthetician if it’s a weaker superficial peel or a physician if it’s a medium-to deep or profound peel. The best professional chemical peels should neither be too weak or too strong for your skin type and condition.

At-home peels have similar ingredients to in-office peels, but they are less powerful and can only treat the skin’s top (superficial) layers. With that in mind, you’ll have to use the peel multiple times before you start to see a result. Additionally, you can customize an at-home treatment. Even so, it’s still important to choose the right type of peel for your skin type, tone, and concerns to avoid an adverse reaction. Always ask a skincare professional if you’re not sure which kind of formula to use.

No matter what type of peel you choose, it’s vital that you’re wearing an SPF with a minimum of 30 so you don’t damage your freshly peeled skin. A mineral-based formula is best as it can be less irritating. Additionally, try to avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most dangerous.

Sources:
How Much Does a Chemical Peel Cost?,” Plastic Surgery.org.
Chemical Peel Facial Rejuvenation Market Revenue Worldwide from 2016 to 2026,” Statista, January 2019.
A Practical Approach to Chemical Peels,” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, August 2018.

 

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