The Most Common Types of Chemical Peels



The Most Common Types of Chemical Peels

Are your angry pimples getting you down? Conscious when people stare at your melasma? Have you ever wished you could just hit the reset button and have beautiful, problem-free skin once more? At McLean Clinic, we have many types of chemical peels that can do that for you. Here’s a detailed guide on chemical peels in Mississauga with a complete list of all the types of chemical peels and the benefits in store for you.

Woman getting a chemical peel Mississauga

Let’s dig right into it!

Chemical Peel 101

Chemical peels, which are also known as clinical peels, work wonders when it comes to revealing your youthful, radiant skin. This beauty treatment involves the application of chemical solutions to gently exfoliate and get rid of the outermost layer of your skin.

The goal is to remove the dry and dull layers of dead skin cells and expose a fresh one that is visibly brighter, tighter, and smoother. There are various types of chemical peels for every skin concern, whether it is acne, ageing, scars, or hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels are frequently used to treat the facial area and the neck, and sometimes, to the arms, feet, chest, and back. Doing a chemical peel with the recommendation and guidance of an expert is a fantastic way to give your skin a fresh start!

The Benefits of Chemical Peels

Woman with radiant skin after chemical peel

  • It banishes fine lines and wrinkles
  • It can erase sun damage and age spots
  • It improves redness and uneven skin tone
  • It scrapes off rough skin
  • It can effectively address acne and the scars they leave after
  • It is a proven way to keep melasma and other types hyperpigmentation under control
  • It gives the skin a tighter and plumper look
  • It lightens the appearance of blemishes and scars
  • It opens up your pores and improves the absorption of your skincare products

Types of Chemical Peels According to Strength

There are three basic types of chemical peels classified according to the solution’s level of strength and depth of the peel.

Superficial Peel

Popularly called the lunchtime peel; this type of chemical peel is the gentlest of all three. It uses mild peeling solutions that contain acids from natural fruit enzymes, such as alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). Superficial peels only work on the topmost layer (the epidermis) of the skin. It does not go any deeper than that. They are quick and easy, generally lasting for 10 to 15 minutes. You may experience a bit of warm sensation when having a superficial peel treatment, but it is tolerable.
They are proven safe and effective for all skin types.

Superficial peels are best for minor skin concerns, including addressing clogged pores, brightening the complexion, removing minor skin blemishes, and achieving facial rejuvenation. When treating more severe cases, for example, cystic acne, your doctor may recommend it to prime the skin in preparation for a deep peel to ensure its effectiveness.

Medium Peel

Medium peels are formulated to penetrate the outer and middle layers of the skin. Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid are examples of chemicals applied in medium peels. They are more painful compared to superficial peels because the substances used are more potent and absorbed deeper into the skin. Medium chemical peels in Mississauga can take up to 40 minutes. Your skincare specialist may provide oral pain medication or sedative to lessen discomfort and ease your mind during the treatment.

Aside from being incredible at refreshing the skin by enhancing freckles, fine lines, and wrinkles, medium peels are also particularly useful in treating precancerous skin growths. For example, it is used to manage actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, which is the scaly and slightly raised patch of skin as a consequence of frequent sun exposure without sunscreen.

Deep Peel

Deeper peels may be the most painful of all the types of chemical peels, but they deliver dramatic results. Treatment procedure is far more complicated and may require the use of intravenous painkillers, sedatives, and general anesthetics. Do not ever attempt to do a deep chemical peel at home. Phenols are the most common acid used in this type of peel, which is known to be toxic in other parts of the body. Depending on the coverage, deep peels may take anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes.

 Woman with a black facial beauty mask

Types of Chemical Peels Based on Active Ingredient

On the other hand, chemical peel treatments can also be classified based on the active ingredient used in the peeling solution.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels (AHA)

Also called fruit acid peels, AHA are the most popular types of superficial peels. They are water-soluble, come at various strength levels, and are generally mild. Examples of AHA acids used in chemical peels include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and mandelic acids. They work great for photoaging and many forms of skin discoloration. They are also impressive in stimulating natural collagen production.

Lactic peel is especially essential if you have excessively dry or sensitive skin. When using glycolic acid as an AHA-based superficial peel, water or a neutralizing treatment will be done to prevent it from seeping past the epidermis. As with all types of chemical peels, AHA peels, though superficial, predisposes you to sun damage. That’s why it is imperative to wear sunscreen after getting a peel.

Beta Hydroxy Acid Peels (BHA)

BHA peels are probably the most effective types of chemical peels for acne while also correcting other skin issues. Salicylic acid is the most common BHA peeling agent. Unlike AHA, which is water-soluble, BHA is an oil-soluble ingredient that soaks more in-depth into the layers of the skin. Neutralization is unnecessary for BHA peels. A Jessner’s peel, which is a medium type of chemical peel, falls under the BHA category, although it features a combination of other peeling agents as well, including AHA and resorcinol.

BHA peels are recommended if you have an oily or combination skin type or if you want to combat your acne or fade out your post-inflammatory acne marks. They can get the job done by stripping the skin of all the sebum and all the deep-seated dirt that clogs your pores and breeds whiteheads, blackheads, and other types of acne.

Trichloroacetic Acid Peels (TCA)

TCA is a medium-depth peel. More aggressive than superficial peels, be sure to only get your TCA chemical peel in Mississauga at McLean Clinic. It’s an excellent beauty treatment for darker skin discoloration, such as melasma, and fine lines and wrinkles that are set in too deep.

This type of chemical peel does not leave you with post-treatment redness but comes with a downtime of 7 to 10 days. You will be advised to avoid going outdoors or getting direct sunlight. Wear a sunblock with SPF 30 or higher and use a gentle facial cleanser while your face is healing. You’ll be amazed at how TCA peels are going to enhance the overall quality of your skin.


Phenol peels are deep peels. They use carbolic acid, which can get into the deepest layers of the skin. It’s a very potent type of chemical peel and is not routinely used unless necessary. For instance, if you are seeking a solution for severe photoaging, scarring, and skin abnormalities due to precancerous growths. On the contrary, if you are only after a flawless and fabulous skin, you’re good with a few sessions of superficial or medium peels. As we’ve discussed earlier with deep chemical peels, treatment application is complicated and should only be done in a clinical setting.

Why You Should Think Twice with DIY Chemical Peels

While there are a lot of advertisements and tutorials tempting you to explore home chemical peels sold online, nothing can be further from the truth that nothing beats chemical peels done by a professional.

Here at McLean Clinic, patients go through a sit-down consultation and skin assessment before being cleared to proceed with our cosmetic treatments. Only after this will we draw a personalized skin treatment plan and suggest types of chemical peels that will work best for you depending on the severity of your skin condition and the results you are hoping to achieve at the end of the treatment.

Having a professional’s expertise is one of the biggest reasons why in-clinic chemical peel appointments work better and are safer than braving a do-it-yourself chemical peel at home. There are many types of chemical peels for acne or whatever skin irregularities you have. This cosmetic treatment should be tailored to fit your own skin type and specific skin concerns, all while taking into consideration potential allergic reactions and health status. You will be given proper, detailed advice as to how to prepare and take care of your skin to maximize the benefits of your chemical peels.

As with all treatment procedures, all types of chemical peels can have some form of complication or adverse reaction. For optimum results, always seek a licensed dermatologist or a plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic treatments.

Book Your Chemical Peel Today!

Dr. Hugh McLean is a highly respected plastic surgeon specializing in aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery. If you are interested to know more about the various types of chemical peels we offer or to schedule an appointment with Dr. McLean, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. A member of our team will get back to you immediately.

Book a consultation now!

March 12, 2020

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