Do at Home Chemical Peels Work?

Having a chemical peel done at a dermatologist's office or a spa may come with an exorbitant price tag. Foranyone watching her budget, at-home chemical peels are a less expensive and more appealing option to treat acne-prone skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, or just even out skin tone while in the comfort and convenience of home. At-home peels may take longer than a professional peel to produce results, but can be highly effective at revitalising skin.


An at-home kit is a lighter chemical peel that uses a milder concentration of acids, which means that it should not be expected to achieve the same results as a more aggressive chemical peel applied at a spa or dermatologist's office. A light chemical peel such as the at-home variety can soften and refresh the skin, giving it a more youthful glow while lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. One should not expect a light chemical peel to get rid of deep scars resulting from acne or deep facial lines and wrinkles.

Sensitive Skin

For first-time users, the Lactic Acid kit is a relatively mild peel that just penetrates the epidermis, or the outer layer of skin. A slightly stronger version of the lactic acid kit is the Glycolic Acid kit, which is also safe and effective for all skin types. The acid in this peel exfoliates beneath the skin's surface while shedding dead skin cells from the epidermis. For those who prefer not to use an enzyme-based peel, the Non Acid Enzyme kit contains acids that dissolve the outer layer of skin cells to reveal newer, softer skin.


The Tricloro Acetic acid (TCA) kit is a more in-depth treatment that targets fine facial lines and wrinkles while evening out skin discolouration to reveal a more even skin tone. This peel can be administered on darker skin tones, as it does not bleach the skin.

Acne-Prone Skin

A Salicylic Acid kit is recommended for oily skin types or those in need of deep pore cleansing. This peel helps treat and prevent acne, and is used to remove blackheads and whiteheads.

For those who suffer from severe acne or have excessively oily skin, the Jessner's Type peel is probably most effective for improving skin condition. This peel is very strong, however, and may not be suitable for all skin types.


A novice at-home chemical peel user should remember that although an at-home peel uses diluted chemicals as compared to a professionally administered chemical peel, these chemicals are still potent enough to cause damage when used improperly or when overexposure occurs. Leaving a product on for too long, using the wrong combination of products or using them in the wrong sequence can result in chemical burns, peeling or discolouration. The negative consequences of misusing an at-home chemical peel can range from mild discomfort to requiring medical attention from a professional.

To avoid such hazards, users of at-home chemical peels should always read the instructions given with their kit thoroughly and follow the recommended procedures closely. Bear in mind that these at-home peels also shouldn't contain more than 10 per cent glycolic acid, as greater concentrations may be too harsh.

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About the Author

Christine is a freelance writer living in Bellevue, Washington and holds a bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from Yale University and an M.A. in Communications from Georgetown. Her professional experience includes market research, copywriting, teaching, and business development. Christine has been published in consumer trade publications and has also written for tech-oriented consumer advice websites.