What's in a chemical peel?

Chemical Peels


Chemical peeling in some form has been around for thousands of years.  Suitable for almost all skin types, these peels can be tailored to fit your needs, improving the appearance and texture of aging skin, scarring, acne, and sun spots or freckles. But what exactly are these chemicals, and how do they work?  Here’s a list of some common ingredients used in chemical peels:


Alpha-hydroxy acids are chemical compounds derived from plants.  For example, glycolic acid comes from sugarcane, lactic acid from sour milk, and citric acid is made from citrus fruits.  (Fun fact: Cleopatra bathed in sour milk to keep her skin even and smooth.)


Beta-hydroxy acids have a slightly different chemical structure from alpha hydroxy acids, and can be slightly less irritating to the skin.  Salicylic acid is the most well-known beta hydroxy acid on the market, and has acne-fighting properties as well


Kojic acid is derived from mushrooms, and has the added bonus of lightening the skin, thus evening skin tone.


Trichoroacetic acid, commonly known as TCA, is a synthetic compound discovered by German scientists in the 1900’s, and is also used to remove benign warts.


Noticing a trend?  All these products are acids.  They work by exfoliating dead layers of skin, triggering regeneration and repair. This results in smoother, more radiant skin.  Most of these products are available at lower strengths over the counter; however, results are variable and gradual.  For the most dramatic results, a prescription strength combination of acids applied at a physician’s office is a better option.


Hopefully this information helped demystify chemical peels a bit, but you may have more questions.  I will be posting a video in the coming weeks that will give even more insight.  For a consultation, please call (310) 823-4444 to schedule an appointment.