The Best At Home Chemical Peels – The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about the best chemical peel at home for hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dark spots, acne scars. Professional instructions with video reviews.

The Best At Home Chemical Peels – The Ultimate Guide

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Chemical Peels: The Gold Standard in Skin Rejuvenation

Chemical peeling can eliminate a whole host of imperfections including wrinkles, active acne, acne scarring, and skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation) among others.[1]

It is the gold standard in skin rejuvenation and is one of the most popular techniques to improve skin damage and maintain youthful and flawless skin.

The basic principle is to apply a chemical solution to exfoliate old and damaged skin in order for your body to regenerate a fresh new layer of skin that will be smoother, younger, and healthier.

Video: What happens after a chemical peel? from Jessica Rom, Licensed Esthetician

The Benefits of Chemical Peeling

  • Helps reduce pore size
  • Improve moderate acne scars[2]
  • Improve uneven skin tone
  • Reduce skin discoloration like sunspots, melasma, and acne/post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots)
  • Improve dry, dull, and sagging skin
  • Diminish fine lines and crow’s feet
  • Improve sun-damaged skin or photoaging
  • Help eliminate comedonal acne or whiteheads and blackheads
  • Help improve active, inflamed acne[3]
  • Produce hydrated, radiant, and glowing skin
  • And more

Save for deep peels, regular chemical peeling isn’t a one-off procedure. It has to be done in a series of 6-10 weekly treatments in order to achieve full results.

Having them regularly done at a clinic will cost you anywhere from $150 to $400 per session. That’s $900 minimum and a $4,000 maximum for a series of treatments.

This can definitely put a dent in your bank account!

The good news is that you can safely do this on your own and at the convenience of your home with the best over-the-counter chemical peels.

But first, you have to learn what the different types of chemical peels are and what kind of peeling agent is right for you in order for you to achieve the results you want.

The Depths of Chemical Peels:

Types or Depth of Chemical Peels

① Light/Superficial Peels

Also known as lunchtime peels, these are superficial peels that penetrate only the upper or top layer of the skin. These are mild acids (AHAs & BHAs).

  • Skin problems: Mild acne, blackheads, whiteheads, fine lines, dry and dull skin, minimal sun damage.
  • Pain: These do not hurt at all, only a mild tingling sensation on contact.
  • Downtime: Virtually no recovery time, though you might be a little pink after with bits of flaky skin. It’s called a lunchtime peel because you’re able to go to work straight away.
  • Peeling Agents: Low concentrations (10-25%) of glycolic acids, lactic acids, fruit acids, and Jessner’s solution.
  • Number of Treatments Recommended: 6-10 treatments in one week intervals.

② Medium Depth Peels

The acid penetrates to the middle layer of the skin to remove damaged skin cells.

  • Skin problems: Acne, blackheads, whiteheads, fine lines and wrinkles, light acne scarring, photoaging or medium sun damage, age spots, moderate skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation, precancerous skin growths ie. actinic keratosis 
  • Pain: It will sting more than the light peel but will not be overly painful. The sensation will reduce over time once your skin adjusts to the acid. 
  • Downtime: 7-14 days. The skin will be red in the first 48 hours. The skin will crust and peel off during the downtime period. Your skin should be soaked in antibacterial solutions followed by ointments to ensure full healing.
  • Peeling Agents: A combination of higher concentrated acids – 50% TCA, glycolic acid or Jessner’s solution up to 70% with TCA up to 35%
  • Number of Treatments Recommended: 6-10 treatments in one-week intervals

③ Deep Peels

The peeling agent will penetrate deep into the skin to correct damaged skin cells. You will see a dramatic improvement to the skin but we recommend that you DON’T DO THIS AT HOME, especially for beginners, as complications or potential side effects may produce permanent scarring.

If you think your skin issues require this type of peeling, please visit your local dermatologist and have them assess your condition. The peeling agents used for this procedure should only be administered by trained physicians.

  • Skin problems: moderate lines and wrinkles, moderate acne scarring, and hyperpigmentation
  • Pain: This feels like a severe sunburn
  • Downtime: 14-21 days. There will be redness, swelling, and irritation. The area will be bandaged and must be soaked 4-6 times daily, followed by ointment application. The dermatologist may also prescribe antibacterial and antiviral medication. There will also be several follow-up appointments to monitor the healing progress.
  • Peeling Agents: TCA, Baker’s phenol

The Basic Acids Used in Chemical Peels At Home

Note: All acid types share the same core benefits of chemical peeling, though some areas to a greater degree than others. We’ve organized them here so you can take advantage of each type for your skin condition.

The Basic Acids Used in Home Chemical Peels
GLYCOLIC
Acid Peels
LACTIC
Acid Peels
SALICYLIC
Acid Peels
TCA
Acid Peels
Ideal for:Normal to combination skinDry, Dehydrated, or Sensitive skin; Mature skinOily and Acne-prone skinMature skin or damaged skin
Targeted Skin Issues:Mild acne, dull skin texture, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, minimal sun damageDehydrated skin, dull or tired skin, aging skin, age spots, freckles, rosacea, light sun damage, fine lines, mild acneModerate acne, blackheads, whiteheads, large pores, superficial scars, dull skin, medium sun damageDiscoloration, melasma, acne scars, pigmentation, fine lines, sun damage, large pores, stretch marks, milia, and skin tags
Unique Strengths:*

(*Note: All acid types share the same core benefits of chemical peeling, though some areas to a greater extent than others. We’ve organized them here so you can take advantage of each type for your skin condition.)
  • Fast-acting, quickest acid to penetrate the skin. Smallest of all AHAs, able to penetrate deeper into the skin Induces exfoliation, skin turnover, and boosts collagen formation. Reduces visible signs of aging The most popular type of peeling treatment. Usually with zero downtime; used in most lunchtime peels.
  • Moisturizing; hydrates the skin and improves the skin’s natural barrier
  • Brightening; clears out uneven skin tone
  • The gentlest type of peeling acid, usually has minimal irritation
  • Combined with other acids for the above unique characteristics
  • Induces exfoliation, skin turnover, and collagen formation.
  • Oil-soluble; has the ability to penetrate into congested pores and soften any hard plugs
  • Helps minimize and clear out large pores
  • Exfoliates built-up layers of oil and dead skin cells
  • Induces skin turnover, and collagen formation.
  • Used for facial resurfacing and skin rejuvenation; higher concentrations are commonly used for deep peels
  • Used for skin discolorations such as melasma, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone; best at home chemical peel for dark spots and sun damage
  • Used to treat skin laxity like fine lines, wrinkles, crows feet, drooping skin
  • Used for superficial damage or acne scarring
  • Downtime can take days to a few weeks
Concentrations Available:10%, 30%, 50%, 70%10%, 40%, 50%10%, 20%, 30%15%, 30%, 45%, 50%, 75%
Jump to: Peeling Demo & Product ListJump to: Peeling Demo & Product ListJump to: Peeling Demo & Product ListJump to: Peeling Demo & Product List

Ask the Expert: How to Choose the Right At-Home Chemical Peel

by SAMANTHA WELCH, ESTHETICIAN


At-home over-the-counter chemical peels vary in the kind of acid or peeling agent used, and their % strength or depth. (Eg. Glycolic Peel – 10%)

When choosing which product would suit you best, you must first determine:

  1. Your skin type (oily skin, dry skin, etc.)
  2. What skin problems you’re looking to address (dull skin, hyperpigmentation, etc.)
  3. Skin sensitivity or tolerance to acids (AHAs & BHAs – This will determine what % or depth you should choose. The lists below are in ascending order or lowest % to highest %.)

The frequency or number of treatments depends on what problem you’re looking to address and where you are in your skincare journey.

Some start chemical peels to correct skin issues, then move on to maintenance. Others are simply looking to brighten their complexion.

  • Peeling for correction: For those looking to fix imperfections like hyperpigmentation or dark spots, wrinkles, acne, or scarring; doing a series of peels increasing in depth from light to medium or deep peels would be your best bet. If you’re new to using acids, it is best practice to start low and build tolerance with time.
  • Peeling for maintenance: For those wanting to maintain a youthful glow, regularly doing a series of light peels every 6 months or so will keep your skin in top shape.

If this is your first foray into home peeling (Be prepared for your best skin yet!), you will need tools like a fan brush and an acid neutralizer for certain types of peeling.

The videos below provide a guide on how the best professional chemical peels are performed.

Proven & Tested by Dermatologists & Estheticians:
The Best At Home Chemical Peels

The list of products below starts from the mildest concentration to the highest.

A. Glycolic Acid Peels

Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in sugar cane. It has the smallest molecule among all the AHAs, making it fast-acting and able to penetrate the skin at a rapid rate. Peels in lower concentrations can be done quickly and effectively with little to no downtime.

Glycolic acid peels are used to combat signs of skin damage and increase the efficacy of everyday skincare products by removing any build-ups on the skin. It has also been proven to be effective against mild to moderate inflamed acne, hyperpigmentation, and melasma. [4, 5] Because of its cost-effectiveness, Glycolic peels are among the most popular type of chemical peeling performed by dermatologists worldwide.

These are mostly used for superficial peels but the depth of penetration still depends on the % strength used. Again, if you’re new to peeling, you can start with the lowest concentration and work your way up. You will also need other tools like a fan brush and an acid neutralizer. Alternatively, you can buy them in sets for convenience.

Best for: Normal to combination skin.
Treatment for: Mild acne, dull skin texture, fine lines, minimal sun damage

Video: In-Office Lunchtime Glycolic Peel Demo with Dr. Neal Schultz, MD

Glycolix Elite 10% / 15% / 20% Glycolic Acid Treatment Pads, 60 Count

Glycolix Elite 10% / 15% / 20% Glycolic Acid Treatment Pads, 60 Count

Best for: Uneven skin texture and tone, Large pores, Acne, Excess oil, Fine lines & wrinkles

Our Review:

Easy and convenient, this package comes with individual pads so there’s less room for mistakes. This is a perfect starting point for beginners. It gently exfoliates the skin, and sloughs off dry skin, excess oil, and other residues from the skin.

The key ingredients include:

  • Crystalline Glycolic Acid – Medical-grade glycolic acid at its most effective and purest forms. Formulated with an adjusted pH to avoid skin irritation.
  • Liposomal Vitamins A, C, E – Triple antioxidants to protect from damaging free radicals
  • Witch Hazel – helps tone and refine pore size, as well as reduce surface oil

Overall this targets uneven skin texture and tone, large pores, acne, excess oil, fine lines, and wrinkles. 

This is something that you can treat yourself with on a more regular basis as part of your skin maintenance and prep the skin for other topical treatments.

Available in 10%, 15% and 20% strengths.


Glycolic Acid 10% Gel Peel - Enhanced with AHA Collagen Stimulation (Professional Chemical Peel)

Glycolic Acid 10% Gel Peel – Enhanced with AHA Collagen Stimulation (Professional Chemical Peel)

Best for: Acne, Oily Skin, Wrinkles, Blackheads, Large Pores

Our Review:

A very light solution, that should be without any visible peeling after. This is your basic office peel.

The package comes with detailed instructions so this is a perfect starting point for beginners. It can help clear up mild acne as well as slough off dull and dry skin.

The AHA collagen stimulation helps will the skin’s healing and rejuvenation. This is something that you can treat yourself to on a more regular basis as part of your skin maintenance.

A single bottle is enough for 15-20 peels.


Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel - Enhanced with Retinol and Green Tea Extract (Professional Chemical Peel)

Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel – Enhanced with Retinol and Green Tea Extract (Professional Chemical Peel)

Best for: Adult & hormonal acne, Red bumps, Large pores, Fine lines

Our Review:

This is a moderately strong solution that has retinol or vitamin A, which is a proven anti-aging ingredient because of its ability to induce younger and healthier skin cells.[6] It also has chamomile and green tea extracts that act as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents.

There are glowing reviews for this product from those who have suffered from adult and hormonal acneWith continuous use, red bumps, large pores, and fine lines have reportedly decreased.

But again, just as with any peel, if this is your first time and would like to opt for a stronger solution than the starting 10%, make sure you prepare by having all the necessary tools on hand and read the accompanying instructions carefully.

Gluten-Free. No Parabens, Sulfates, or Phthalates.
Cruelty-Free – No Animal Testing on Products or Ingredients
Sustainable Raw Materials & Practices.

For this sized bottle, it comes up to 15-30 peel treatments.


Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel - Enhanced with Retinol & Green Tea Extract (Professional Skin Peel)

Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel – Enhanced with Retinol & Green Tea Extract (Professional Skin Peel)

Best for: Promoting collagen, Reducing fine lines, Rejuvenating the skin

Our Review:

This is a powerful solution that is aimed at more problematic skin issues like deeper lines, acne scarring, and moderate sun damage.

  • Retinol (Vitamin A) has been proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and promote collagen to help rejuvenate the skin and even out skin tone.
  • Green tea with cucumber extract is a synergistic combination that provides anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant benefits to the skin.

Even if you have prior experience with chemical peeling, make sure you thoroughly read how to use this product properly. This should come with a pamphlet that is detailed and very informative about pre-and post-treatment, contraindications, etc. to make sure you achieve the best results it can offer.

Gluten-Free. No Parabens, Sulfates, or Phthalates.
Cruelty-Free – No Animal Testing on Products or Ingredients.
Recycled Materials – Sustainable Raw Materials & Practices.


Glycolic Acid Peel 70% Deep+ Peel Unit - Professional Strength Medical Grade Chemical Face Peel for all Skin Tones

Glycolic Acid Peel 70% Deep+ Peel Unit – Professional Strength Medical Grade Chemical Face Peel for all Skin Tones

Best for: Fine lines, Age spots, Sun damaged skin, Hyperpigmentation, and Dilated pores

Our Review:

A 70% solution is the highest you can go without a prescription.

If used correctly, the results will be phenomenal. This is the type of chemical peels that one would pay top dollar to an aesthetician for.

This deep but superficial peel is recommended for those with experience in peeling.

One of the best chemical peels for wrinkles, this depth of peel can minimize fine lines, age spots, hyperpigmentation, and dilated pores.

Best for sun-damaged, dull, uneven-toned, and dehydrated skin. Great for overall skin rejuvenation.


Glycolic Acid Peel Kits

When you buy your first bottle of chemical peeling agent, you’ll need to purchase other tools as well, like a brush applicator and a neutralizing agent among others.

You can save yourself the trouble and reduce any chances of buying the wrong one by getting a complete set instead.

Retexturizing Chemical Glycolic Facial Skin Peel Kit

Retexturizing Chemical Glycolic Facial Skin Peel Kit

Best for: Refining pore size, Controlling breakouts, Unclogging pores, Evening out skin tone, Reducing dry patches, Fine lines & wrinkles

Our Review:

This professional skin peel helps refine pore size, control breakouts, release congested and clogged pores, even out skin tone, and reduce dry patches, fine lines, and wrinkles.

It’s a unique system that combines 3 different chemical exfoliants: glycolic acid, enzymes, and physical exfoliation to resurface and rejuvenate skin texture.

The kit includes:

  • Peel prep – an enzyme scrub
  • Peel Accelerator Pads (60-count) – pre-moistened glycolic peel pads
  • Glycolic Peel Solution – the original peel kit solution
  • Fan brush and Dispensing cup

The Ellen Lange Retexturizing peel utilizes their SubSurfacing technology proprietary delivery system that accelerates product migration into the epidermis. Its controlled oxygen feature targets collagen regeneration, metabolic activity, and dermal cell production. This combination helps clear complexion, improve texture, even out skin tone, and enhances the skin’s overall glow.

Allure Best of Beauty Award
Leaping Bunny Certified (Cruelty-Free Certification)

Plastic Surgeon Tested.
Not tested on animals.

Free from: Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Gluten, Barley, Wheat.


30% Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Aging Glycolic Peel System - FREE $65 Anti-Wrinkle Creams INCLUDED

30% Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Aging Glycolic Peel System – FREE $65 Anti-Wrinkle Creams INCLUDED

Best for: Minimizing oil production, Acne breakouts, Scars, Redness & inflammation; all while improving your skin’s tone & texture. Stimulates collagen production & moisture retention

Our Review:

Safe & proven brand with over 27 years of servicing dermatologists and spas.

This professional strength glycolic acid is to minimize oil production, acne breakouts, scars, redness, and inflammation; all while improving your skin’s tone and texture. It also stimulates collagen production and moisture retention, making it one of the best chemical peels for wrinkles in our list.

You can see the same results done by professionals by using the same products AND save money in the long run. Peels at spas & dermatologist that uses this brand can run from $100 to $500 PER SESSION. This kit offers great value as it’s good for an estimated 10-15 facial peels, with each peel clocking at just roughly $7.50.

You should see a difference after 4-6 applications when used regularly. Just keep in mind that this is NOT a one-time solution but a long-term skin regimen for consistent, younger-looking skin. Please be patient.

Aside from this solution, the kit is also available in various strengths:

  • LIGHT (30% Glycolic acid) – for those looking to peel away blemishes and reveal healthy skin. Use to get rid of age spots, fine lines, and acne-prone skin. No downtime or heavy peeling.
  • MEDIUM (40% Glycolic acid) – For experienced peelers that would like to have faster results than those seen at 30%.
  • DEEP (60% Glycolic acid) – For very seasoned peelers with damaged skin that you’re working to correct.

The glycolic acid used is derived from natural cane sugar and supplemented with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, green tea, chamomile, cucumber, grapefruit, and grapeseed to ensure a clean peeling session that hydrates and doesn’t overly dry the skin.

This is 100% Vegan, Paraben-free, Cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain Sulfates, Synthetic Dyes/Fragrances, Mineral Oil, Formaldehyde Releasers, Alcohols, and MI/MCI Preservatives.


Planet Eden 70% Glycolic Acid Chemical Skin Peel Kit + Glycolic Acid Pre-Peel Cleanser + Antioxidant Recovery Cream + Treatment Fan Brush

Planet Eden 70% Glycolic Acid Chemical Skin Peel Kit + Glycolic Acid Pre-Peel Cleanser + Antioxidant Recovery Cream + Treatment Fan Brush

Best for: Acne, Enlarged pores, Fine lines, Sun damage, Wrinkles, Keratosis pilaris, Age spots, Melasma, Freckles, Hyperpigmentation, Uneven skin tone, Dry & dull skin, Rosacea

Our Review:

It’s best not to second-guess your peeling process, especially when dealing with very strong concentrations.

This package is great because it has everything you need every step of the way, from cleansing to the recovery cream.

The recovery cream, in particular, is formulated with over a dozen different antioxidants that help heal your skin after your peel. It provides anti-inflammatory protection and stimulates collagen. This is geared towards restoring skin elasticity and refined skin texture.

This concentration is recommended for a whole host of skin issues like acne, enlarged pores, fine lines, sun damage, wrinkles, keratosis pilaris, age spots, melasma, freckles, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, dry dull skin, and rosacea. You’ll notice an improvement as well in hydration and suppleness within a few uses, and see continuous improvement with regular use.

That said, it is still a whopping 70% in strength so is recommended only for those who have experience with peeling and looking to correct damaged skin.


B. Lactic Acid Peels

Lactic acid is naturally occurring and is found in sour milk. It is one of the oldest types of skin treatments, dating back to Ancient Rome and Egypt. (Cleopatra reportedly bathed in milk to maintain her youthful beauty. Turns out it was lactic acid all along!)

It has the characteristics of all acid peels, which is inducing exfoliation, cell turnover, and collagen formation.

What makes lactic acid unique however is its ability to induce hyaluronic acid, the skin’s natural way of retaining moisture. It hydrates the skin and improves the skin’s natural barrier more so than the other acids. It also brightens and evens out uneven skin tone, even in difficult cases like melasma in darker-skinned patients.[7]

Lactic acid does all of this while keeping it gentle with minimal irritation. This makes it perfect for sensitive, dry, or dehydrated skin.

Best for: Dry, Dehydrated, or Sensitive skin; Mature skin
Treatment for: Dehydrated skin, dull or tired skin, aging skin, age spots, freckles, rosacea, light sun damage, fine lines, mild acne

Video: Chemical Peels – Lactic Acid Peel Demonstration by Skin therapist Nash Tsolos

Theraderm - Fruit Acid Exfoliant (10% Lactic Acid) 2 fl oz.

Theraderm – Fruit Acid Exfoliant (10% Lactic Acid)

Best for: Sensitive or Dark skin

Our Review:

One of the gentlest types of chemical peeling available. This is unbuffered lactic acid that goes through the motions of exfoliation without the added risk of irritation. The low acid content will not cause burns or redness and works great for those with sensitive or dark skin. This fruit acid exfoliant, in particular, is even safe enough to use on eyelids.

This is step 2 of the brand’s renowned Skin Renewal System, which aims to improve skin health and help fight against oxidative damage & signs of aging.

Cruelty-free.
Free from: Parabens, Fragrances, Oils, Gluten.


Makeup Artists Choice 40% Lactic Acid Peel For Acne, Anti Aging, Hyperpigmentation (.5 Oz)

Makeup Artists Choice 40% Lactic Acid Peel For Acne, Anti Aging, Hyperpigmentation

Best for: Age spots or Mature skin

Our Review:

If you prefer a stronger solution for age spots or mature skin, a higher concentration may suit your skin better.

This is great to use on the regular, every 2-3 weeks, to make sure your skin keeps its youthful glow whilst keeping pigmentation at bay.


Glyco-Lactic Acid 60% Gel Peel (20% Glycolic + 40% Lactic) with After-Peel Neutralizer

Glyco-Lactic Acid 60% Gel Peel (20% Glycolic + 40% Lactic) with After-Peel Neutralizer

Best for: Acne-fighting and Anti-aging, Stimulating collagen, Improving dry or dehydrated skin, Brightening skin tone

Our Review:

This is a 2-in-1 set in more ways than one. This peel combines 20% glycolic acid and 40% lactic acid in one bottle, combining the benefits of two of the most popular chemical peels used by dermatologists. This combination makes it one of the best at-home chemical peels for hyperpigmentation, in our opinion.

Both exfoliates and stimulate collagen to reveal younger-looking skin but each type has its own unique strengths:

  • Glycolic acid is fast-acting and penetrates deeper into the skin. It treats acne, dull skin, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and more.
  • Lactic acid attracts moisture to the skin and hydrates it, improving dry or dehydrated skin. It also helps brighten and even out the skin tone.

This at-home kit comes with its own neutralizer so you don’t have to purchase one separately. Their calming After-peel Neutralizer stops the peeling action to prevent burns and irritation. It also contains 6 acne-fighting and anti-aging ingredients: Aloe Vera, Kojic acid, Vitamin C, Retinol, Mulberry, and Licorice.


Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel with Kojic Acid, Bearberry & Licorice Root Extracts - Professional Grade Chemical Face Peel - Alpha Hydroxy Acid, 1 Bottle of 1 fl oz - QRxLabs

Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel with Kojic Acid, Bearberry & Licorice Root Extracts – Professional Grade Chemical Face Peel – Alpha Hydroxy Acid – QRxLabs

Best for: Hyperpigmentation, Age spots, Sun spots, acne scarring

Our Review:

Kojic acid and bearberry are botanical extracts that are proven to inhibit melanin.[8] This ensures that any pigmentation is also actively prevented with every session (as opposed to just being stripped by layer).

This formula combines medical-grade lactic acid at 50% strength with pure bearberry and licorice root extracts to help even out skin tone and fade any hyperpigmentation, age spots, sun spots, and reduce the appearance of scars. This also comes is as one of the best at-home chemical peels for hyperpigmentation.

It also helps smooth out fine lines and wrinkles for younger, healthier-looking skin.

Cruelty-free. Eco-friendly packaging. Parabens-free and Silicone-free.


C. Salicylic Acid Peels

All of the other types of peels are water-soluble. This means that while it can exfoliate the top layers of your skin, it won’t be able to get through any pockets of oil in the pores.

For those with oily or acne-prone skin, you’ll need an oil-soluble peel that can cut through the oil so it can flush out the pores. This is where salicylic acid comes in.

Salicylic acid is the only oil-soluble peel that is able to penetrate into congested pores to effectively exfoliate the pore lining. It’s able to unclog blackheads, whiteheads, and acne because of this. It’s also a good anti-inflammatory agent so it can help with some of the redness associated with acne.

Salicylic peels have proven to have excellent results against hyperpigmentation and comedonal acne.[9]

With regular chemical exfoliation, there will be less build-up of dead skin and debris on the skin, resulting in less frequent bouts of acne.

Your skin will also be more susceptible to any topical medication and serums you use, increasing its efficacy.

If you’re new to peeling, you can start with the lowest concentration and work your way up. Make sure to avoid this if you are pregnant or allergic to aspirin.

Best for: Oily and acne-prone skin
Treatment for: Moderate acne, blackheads, whiteheads, large pores, superficial scars, dull skin, medium sun damage

Video: Acne Prone Skin Care : How Do I Peel Skin With Salicylic Acid? Expert Advice by Dr. Rosalyn George

ASDM Beverly Hills 10% Salicylic Acid Medical Strength

ASDM Beverly Hills 10% Salicylic Acid Medical Strength

Best for: Oily & Sensitive skin

Our Review:

If you have oily but sensitive skin, this 10% salicylic acid solution is a good place to start. This is another staple in-office peels.

With regular sessions, you can improve acne-prone skin as this can deeply cleanse pores, remove deep-seated dirt and sebum, control oil production, and eliminate acne-causing bacteria.

This solution is pure & unbuffered, meaning it retains its naturally low pH and will come at full strength and penetrate deeper into the skin.


Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel - Enhanced with Tea Tree Oil & Green Tea Extract (Professional Chemical Peel)

Salicylic Acid 20% Gel Peel – Enhanced with Tea Tree Oil & Green Tea Extract (Professional Chemical Peel)

Best for: Blackheads, Large pores, Acne

Our Review:

If you have experience with any type of peels, 20% is just right for you. This concentration is not too strong but can be very effective, especially against more physical issues like large pores and blackheads.

The tea tree oil and green tea give it its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities, which have been proven effective in killing Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria directly responsible for breakouts. Green tea also contains polyphenols, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and restore youthful and vibrant skin.

No Parabens, Sulfates, or Phthalates. Gluten-Free.
Cruelty-Free – No Animal Testing on Products or Ingredients.
Recycled Materials – Sustainable Raw Materials & Practices.


SALICYLIC Acid 30% Chemical Peel with Beta Hydroxy BHA by Skin Beauty Solutions

Salicylic Acid 30% Chemical Peel with Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) by Skin Beauty Solutions

Best for: Rosacea, Acne, Oily Skin, Blackheads, Whiteheads, Clogged Pores, Seborrheic Keratosis, Dandruff, & More

Our Review:

Salicylic acid is a lipid-soluble, keratolytic peeling agent that works efficiently with oily, sensitive skin.

It also helps to reduce inflammation and swelling in your skin, making it an ideal choice for treating acne breakouts.

If you have noticeable blackheads and pores, especially in the T-zone, this BHA solution can help clarify and refine your skin.

This 30% solution can also help with skin conditions such as warts, calluses, corns, psoriasis, seborrhea dermatitis, dandruff, and ichthyosis.


D. TCA Peels

TCA or trichloroacetic acid has long been considered the de facto peeling agent for damaged skin because of its versatility and extensive history. Because TCA is a stronger acid than glycolic, lactic, and salicylic; these are used for the medium and deeper type of peels because of their effectiveness against pigmentation, sun damage, and wrinkles.

It’s used for facial resurfacing to correct discolorations like melasma, pigmentation, brown spots, sun damage, and uneven skin tones. It’s best for damaged skin as well, like leathery skin from tanning/sun damage or acne scarring.

This is one of the best at-home chemical peels for dark spots and sun damage. A series of medium-depth peels have been proven to significantly reduce sun damage.

TCA is also used in clinics for skin rejuvenation, especially for mature skin. It improves skin laxity like sagging skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and crow’s feet.

If you’re looking for the best chemical peel for acne scars at home, this is a great way to start.

Best for: Mature skin or damaged skin
Treatment for: Discoloration, melasma, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, dark spots, fine lines, sun damage, large pores, stretch marks, milia, and skin tags

Video: How to TCA peel – Tutorial by Aesthetic & Laser Dermatologist Dr. Davin Lim


How to Do Chemical Peels at Home

If you’re new to peeling, always start with the lowest concentration you can get (5%-10%). You can work your way up in chemical strength once your skin has acclimated to using skincare acids.

For dramatic results, stronger chemical peels used in-clinic start at 30% above.

Total Time Needed :

20

Minutes

Total Cost:

30-50

USD

Required Tools:

– Washcloth
– Timer
– Washcloth
– A fan brush (e.g., Fan Brush Taklon 7.75″), gauze, or cotton pads

Things Needed?

– Gentle cleanser
– Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
– Chemical Peeling agent of choice
Eye saline solution (In case of emergency)

Basic Procedure:

Step 1: Cleanse with a gentle face wash

Avoid anything with exfoliants like beads or any other strong ingredients. You won’t go wrong with face washes that are aimed at sensitive skin.

Step 2: Pat your face dry before putting on the peel

Your skin needs to be completely dry before starting the process.

Step 3: Apply an occlusive barrier in your eye, nose, and lip area for protection

You can use petroleum jelly or vaseline. Apply around the eyes, the sensitive areas of the nose, and the corner of your lips.

Step 4: Get your timer ready

If it’s your first time, turn the timer on before you start applying the peel. Superficial peels are usually 2-3 minutes before neutralizing. Self-neutralizing peels can stay on for 2-4 hours.

Step 5: Apply peel

Dip your gauze, brush, or cotton in the solution, making sure to squeeze out any excess to avoid any drips.

Apply a thin top layer of the peel starting with your forehead and working your way down, avoiding sensitive areas. Be very careful around the eyes! You can have an eye saline solution in case of emergencies.

Step 6: Wait for the peel to penetrate the skin

As you wait for the timer to go off, you might feel a tingling sensation on your skin.

There may be some light frosting, but there shouldn’t be any pain or redness. If this happens, immediately neutralize.

Step 7: Neutralize

Use lukewarm water or your neutralizing agent, gently.

Be very careful because it will be sensitive to the chemical peel. Make sure to wash thoroughly to remove any residue. You’ll notice that your skin will be a little tight. For some, it might be slightly pink but this will subside in about an hour.

Step 8: Repair & Recovery

Finally, you’ll have to nourish and protect your skin.

You can use repair creams or soothing gels like aloe vera, hyaluronic serum, or hydrocortisone at night. Again, products aimed at sensitive skin will be your best bet. This will help calm down the skin from any irritation you might have from the peel.

Before and After Care

Before Doing Chemical Peels at Home:

  • To make your peel even more effective, you can use retinol or low strength AHA toners or AHA serums 1-2 weeks prior. This preps your skin for higher strength peels and expedites any flaking afterward.
  • Do a patch test to make sure your skin can tolerate the strength of the product. Over-the-counter chemical peels usually come with instructions on how to properly perform a patch test.
  • Only do a peel once a week to start to avoid damaging your skin. You can do a series of peels once every 6 months, 1 week apart for 5-8 weeks.
  • It’s extremely important you do not leave the peel on any longer than the recommended amount of time to avoid damaging your skin.
  • Peel type and strengths should be tailored depending on your condition. You know your skin best so be very observant, especially on your first time.

Aftercare Reminders: Chemical Peels at Home

  • Avoid using acids or chemical exfoliants for the next few days to allow your skin time to heal.
  • Avoid direct sunlight. The week after the peel, you’ll be more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Avoid smoking to minimize the risk of any infections.
  • Apply a sunscreen with at least the 30 SPF to protect the skin while healing and avoid any hyperpigmentation.
  • Do not manually peel the flaking skin. This is very important because if you do, you’re going to create scabs and could potentially be infected.
  • Use a gentle cleanser to avoid aggravating your skin.

References:

  1. Wiest LG, Habig J. Chemische Peels in der Dermatologie [Chemical peel treatments in dermatology]. Hautarzt. 2015 Oct;66(10):744-7. German. doi: 10.1007/s00105-015-3672-3. PMID: 26373295.
  2. Gozali MV, Zhou B. Effective treatments of atrophic acne scars. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015 May;8(5):33-40. PMID: 26029333; PMCID: PMC4445894.
  3. Al-Talib H, Al-Khateeb A, Hameed A, Murugaiah C. Efficacy and safety of superficial chemical peeling in treatment of active acne vulgaris. An Bras Dermatol. 2017 Mar-Apr;92(2):212-216. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20175273. PMID: 28538881; PMCID: PMC5429107.
  4. Perić, Sanja & Bubanj, Maja & Bubanj, Saša & Jančić, Snežana. (2011). Glycolic acid peeling in the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory facial acne vulgaris. Scientific Research and Essays. 6. 10.5897/SRE11.1294.
  5. Hurley ME, Guevara IL, Gonzales RM, Pandya AG. Efficacy of Glycolic Acid Peels in the Treatment of Melasma. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(12):1578–1582. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.12.1578
  6. Kafi R, Kwak HSR, Schumacher WE, et al. Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin With Vitamin A (Retinol). Arch Dermatol. 2007;143(5):606–612. doi:10.1001/archderm.143.5.606
  7. Sarkar R, Bansal S, Garg VK. Chemical peels for melasma in dark-skinned patients. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2012 Oct;5(4):247-53. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.104912. PMID: 23378706; PMCID: PMC3560164.
  8. Briganti, S., Camera, E. and Picardo, M. (2003), Chemical and Instrumental Approaches to Treat Hyperpigmentation. Pigment Cell Research, 16: 101-110. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0749.2003.00029.x
  9. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 Aug 26;8:455-61. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S84765. PMID: 26347269; PMCID: PMC4554394.

The Best At Home Chemical Peels – The Ultimate Guide

Everything you need to know about the best at home chemical peels for hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dark spots, acne scars. Professional instructions with video reviews.

Samantha Welch

Summary

All acid types share the same core benefits of chemical peeling, though some areas to a greater degree than others. We’ve organized them here so you can take advantage of each type for your skin condition. The list of products we have starts from the mildest concentration to the highest.

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Samantha Welch

Samantha Welch is an esthetician and professional makeup artist. She co-founded Healthy Beautiful to create a space where she can share her experiences and channel her love for all things beauty. Samantha believes that through education and resources, everyone can make informed choices that can change their lives.