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What Is a Chemical Peel & How Does It Work?

Chemical Peel by instinctbozeman in BOZEMAN, MT

Achieving healthy, glowing skin is a common goal for many people. Various treatments and skincare routines promise these results, but not all live up to the hype. Among the numerous options available, chemical peels have garnered significant attention for effectively addressing multiple skin concerns. With a range of different peels designed to target specific issues, this treatment has become a go-to for those seeking noticeable skin texture and appearance improvements. Knowing the basics of chemical peels can help you determine if this popular treatment aligns with your skincare goals.

What are Chemical Peels?

Essentially, a chemical peel is a treatment that uses a chemical solution to remove the outer layers of skin. This encourages the formation of fresh, healthier skin cells, giving the face a smoother, more even tone.

Chemical peels vary in strength and depth. Superficial peels, also known as light peels, are the mildest form and only affect the outermost layer of the skin. These are typically used to improve mild skin discoloration and rough texture. Medium peels infiltrate deeper into the skin and are used for more pronounced skin concerns like age spots, fine lines, and acne scars. Deep peels reach the lower dermal layer and are most effective for severe wrinkles, deep scars, and significant sun damage.

The type of peel used depends on the individual’s skin type, concerns, and goals. Each type of peel has a specific formulation and concentration of active ingredients designed to target particular skin issues. The procedure usually involves applying the chemical solution to the skin, allowing it to work for a designated period, and then neutralizing or removing it. The treated skin may peel or flake over the following days, revealing fresh, rejuvenated skin.

Types of Chemical Peels

Every kind of chemical peel has advantages of its own and may be customized to fit each person’s skincare requirements. A skin care expert’s advice can be helpful in deciding which peel is best for you based on your goals and particular skin conditions.

VI Peels

VI Peels are known for their versatility and effectiveness in treating various skin issues. These medium-strength peels contain a blend of trichloroacetic acid (TCA), phenol, salicylic acid, and vitamin C. VI Peels can improve skin texture, tone, and clarity while reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. They are suitable for all skin types and typically involve minimal downtime.

AHA Peels (Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels)

AHA peels use naturally occurring acids derived from fruits and milk, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. These superficial peels are gentle on the skin and are effective for improving mild discoloration, uneven texture, and fine lines. AHA peels are a popular choice for individuals looking for a gentle yet effective exfoliation with minimal recovery time.

BHA Peels (Beta Hydroxy Acid Peels)

BHA peels primarily use salicylic acid, which is oil-soluble and penetrates deep into the pores. This makes BHA peels particularly effective for treating acne and oily skin. They help to clear clogged pores, reduce acne breakouts, and improve overall skin texture. BHA peels are suitable for individuals with acne-prone and sensitive skin types.

TCA Peels (Trichloroacetic Acid Peels)

TCA peels come in various concentrations, ranging from light to deep. Lower concentrations of TCA are used for superficial peels, while higher concentrations can achieve medium to deep peeling. TCA peels effectively treat sun damage, age spots, acne scars, and deeper wrinkles. They offer significant improvements but require a longer recovery than lighter peels.

Jessner’s Peels

Jessner’s peels are a combination peel containing lactic acid, salicylic acid, and resorcinol. This formulation allows for a deeper peel than AHA or BHA peels alone. Jessner’s peels are effective for treating hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and acne scars. They can also improve overall skin tone and texture. Due to their potency, these peels may cause moderate peeling and require some downtime.

The Procedure

On the day of the treatment, your skin is thoroughly cleansed to remove any oils or impurities that could interfere with the peeling process.

Next, the chemical solution is carefully applied to your skin using a brush, cotton pad, or applicator. You might feel a tingling or stinging sensation as the solution works on your skin. This sensation varies depending on the type and strength of the peel, but it usually subsides within a few minutes.

For superficial and medium peels, the solution is typically left on the skin for a specific amount of time, ranging from a few minutes to around 20 minutes. In the case of deep peels, the solution may need to be applied in stages, with each layer requiring careful monitoring. Once the desired effect is achieved, the solution is neutralized or removed, and the skin is gently cleansed again.

After the peel, a soothing agent or cold compress may be applied to the treated area to help reduce any immediate discomfort. Your skin might appear red and feel tight, similar to a mild sunburn. Depending on the depth of the peel, you may experience peeling or flaking over the next few days to a week.


Proper aftercare is crucial for optimal results and includes using gentle cleansers, applying moisturizer, and avoiding direct sun exposure. Sun protection is particularly important as the new skin is more sensitive to UV radiation. Your skincare professional will provide specific instructions tailored to the type of peel and your skin’s needs, ensuring a smooth recovery process and the best possible outcome.


Chemical peels address fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, uneven skin tone, and other skin issues, providing a revolutionary method for obtaining smoother, more vibrant skin. The process is simple: first, an assessment is needed to customize the treatment to your unique needs; then, a carefully chosen chemical solution is applied; and last, appropriate aftercare is provided to guarantee the best possible outcome.

Our skilled experts at Instinct Holistic Medical Spa are committed to assisting you in reaching your skincare objectives through personalized chemical peel treatments. Our selection of peels may be tailored to meet your unique needs, whether you want to address specific issues or revitalize your skin. Contact us right now to find out how a chemical peel can bring out the best in your natural beauty and give you the radiant skin you deserve.


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