Updated April 16, 2019 by Gabrielle Taylor

The 10 Best Chemical Peels

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This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in May of 2016. Many people use chemical peels to simply give them a more youthful glow and to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, the formulations in our selection are also great at helping with a number of other skin issues, such as warts, scarring, acne, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and more, and can even fade the signs of sun damage with regular use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best chemical peel on Amazon.

10. Planet Eden Kit

9. Skin Beauty Solutions Beta Hydroxy

8. RePare TCA 25%

7. Refresh Skin Therapy Fruit

6. Skin Obsession 40% Glycolic

5. ASDM Beverly Hills Glycolic

4. Perfect Image Gel

3. Olay Regenerist

2. OZNaturals Anti Aging

1. Philosophy Microdelivery

What Conditions Can A Chemical Peel Treat?

This evens out skin tone and helps blend stretch marks in with the surrounding skin.

Various ingredients might be used in a chemical peel to enhance its moisturizing properties, odors, and other elements, but the basis for every peel is usually a combination of alpha hydroxy acids, phenol (which has many health benefits, including reducing the damage of free radicals), and trichloroacetic acid. While the exact formula of chemical peels may vary, they all work to remove old and damaged skin cells through the use of an acid solution. The skin that is then exposed is usually smoother and softer than that which was removed.

Chemical peels can be used to treat uneven skin pigmentation, otherwise known as hyperpigmentation. There are various causes of this condition, including sun damage, and even exposure to certain dyes and air contaminants, but they all result in skin that is darker in some areas than others. A chemical peel can remove the layer of skin that has uneven pigment, and reveal a new layer that has yet to be exposed to the atmosphere which still has an even color.

Chemical peels can also be used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Dark skin in the lines of stretch marks makes them appear much more severe than they are. Because chemical peels remove dead cells, they reveal a new layer of skin that is usually brighter than the old one. This evens out skin tone and helps blend stretch marks in with the surrounding skin. Chemical peels do not need to be applied to just the face; they can go anywhere on the body. They can also be used for spot treatments, evening out the tone and texture of skin in targeted areas.

Surprising Things A Chemical Peel Can Do

Those who do not want to undergo invasive skin tag removal surgery, which can often result in scarring, can try a chemical peel instead. Chemical peels have also been shown to be effective in fading tattoos and reducing the appearance of some scars. Some evidence even suggests that they can also prevent the forming scars, too. Dermatology research has shown that whiteheads and blackheads can result in scars. Some chemical peels can also effectively clean pores, and prevent white and black heads.

Some contain a formula that lightens the appearance of freckles and is especially effective for anyone with sun damage.

One of the common complications one experiences after a chemical peel is a strong tingling or burning sensation. This is typically harmless and goes away within a few days, but it can be very uncomfortable. Many chemical peels include a healing kit that covers one's skin in antioxidants and botanical extracts. These can be very calming on your inflamed skin and can help make it stronger, quicker. Freckles are additional skin ailments that people often turn to chemical peels for. Some contain a formula that lightens the appearance of freckles and is especially effective for anyone with sun damage.

Many chemical peels produce visible peeling, which makes users hesitant to go outside until the process is complete. Some manufacturers have created formulas that do not produce visible peeling, so the wearer can go outside immediately after applying their peel. People who are at an age when their skin stops producing as much natural collagen can look for a peel that boosts collagen production, helping them fight the effects of aging.

A History Of Chemical Peels

The Ancient Egyptians, who were pioneers in many beauty services and products still seen today, like tattoos and wigs, were some of the first to use chemical peels. Ancient Egyptian women discovered that the lactic acid in sour milk rejuvenated their skin, and so they would put it on their faces. Ancient Romans turned to grape skins, which contain tartaric acid. In the 1800s, a dermatologist named Ferdinand Hebra began lightening freckles with a combination of nitric acids, hydrochloric, croton oil and a few other ingredients. This mixture would cause the skin to blister, at which point Hebra would puncture them, cover them with starch and remove the dead cells.

In 1871, another dermatologist noted that using a mixture that contained 20 percent phenol could lighten skin, and in 1882, a German dermatologist named P.G. Unna discovered the benefits of adding salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid to peels. Unna made a paste of zinc oxide, petrolatum, resorcinol and ichthammol that allegedly rejuvenated skin, and reduced the appearance of wrinkles. Unna's work inspired much of the research done in the 1990s on salicylic acid, which is still often found in peels today.

Glycolic acid is another ingredient that took the chemical peel industry by storm in the 1990s. A derivative of sugar cane, glycolic acid has tiny molecules capable of deeply penetrating the skin. A 10 percent concentration of the acid is found in may moisturizers, and a 50 percent concentration goes into chemical peels.

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Gabrielle Taylor
Last updated on April 16, 2019 by Gabrielle Taylor

Originally from a tiny town in Virginia, Gabrielle moved to Los Angeles for a marketing internship at a well-known Hollywood public relations firm and was shocked to find that she loves the West Coast. She spent two years as a writer and editor for a large DIY/tutorial startup, where she wrote extensively about technology, security, lifestyle, and home improvement. A self-professed skincare nerd, she’s well-versed in numerous ingredients and methods, including both Western and Asian products. She is an avid home cook who has whiled away thousands of hours cooking and obsessively researching all things related to food and food science. Her time in the kitchen has also had the curious side effect of making her an expert at fending off attempted food thievery by her lazy boxer dog.

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