Chemical Peel Application Times, Recovery Times & Frequencies
Having a chemical peel at home can be life changing. We offer a range of mild to medium-depth medical grade peels at affordable prices to deliver professional results without the cost commitment of a dermatology treatment.
We get a lot of questions about chemical peel recovery times, how long chemical peels take to deliver results, what the neutralization process is and which pre- and after-care processes are required or recommended.
Although we include a detailed set of instructions with every chemical peel that's delivered to you, here we've compiled some of the most popular FAQs that end up in our inbox.
1. How long do you leave a chemical peel on?
The time a facial peel is left on before it's neutralized depends on the peel and what kinds of results you're looking for.
Lactic Acid - 60 seconds to 3 minutes
We offer one lactic acid peel at 85-percent concentration. This is the mildest peel we offer, and is a great starter peel to help get your feet wet. If you've never peeled before, we recommend leaving this solution on for 60 seconds before applying the neutralizer. This peel can be left on for up to three minutes. No actual peeling occurs with this peel.
Glycolic Acid - 3 to 10 minutes
We get a lot of inquiries about how long someone typically leaves a glycolic acid peel on the face. And that's because glycolic acid is one of the most popular acids, both at home and professionally. This peel's particles are the smallest of all the acids, which allow it to penetrate quickly and deeply to unstick the glue that holds dead skin cells together.
We offer a range of glycolic concentrations, starting at 20 percent. At its lower concentrations, the glycolic peel is a great beginner's product and will not result in any actual peeling. A 50-percent glycolic concentration will provide more noticeable results, and peeling does occur. Glycolic peels can be left on for three to ten minutes.
Alpha Beta Peels - 3 to 10 minutes
These peels provide all of the same benefits of a glycolic peel, because they contain glycolic acids. That's the 'alpha' portion of an alpha/beta peel. The 'beta' acid comes in the form of salicylic acid, one of the most common ingredients of professional acne medications. This is what makes this peel not only a great anti-aging solution but also an excellent treatment for recurring breakouts and oily skin.
Alpha/beta peels offer light to moderate resurfacing, based on the concentration and time left on the skin. A combination peel can be applied for three to ten minutes before neutralization.
TCA - Five to 15 minutes
How long you leave the TCA peel on, depends on the depth you're looking to achieve. We offer three concentrations of TCA, from 15 percent to 25 percent. All of these concentrations are professional grade and will yield dramatic results. A TCA peel will result in moderate to heavy peeling, and most people experience a significant amount of downtime.
TCA peels can be applied for up to four layers. Each layer will remain on your skin for five to 15 minutes, or until frosting occurs, before another layer is applied.
Jessner’s Peel - Five to 15 minutes
Jessner's peels are similar to alpha/beta peels, but contain a third magic ingredient: resorcinol. Together, these acids can combat sun damage, rosacea, age spots, acne, fine lines and shallow scarring. Similar to a TCA peel, a Jessner's peel is a strong skin care solution recommended only for advanced peelers. Unlike some other strong peels, the Jessner's peel has a great track record with darker skin types, which makes it an excellent alternative for those who might be prone to atypical scarring or discolorations.
Like the TCAs, this peel is applied in one to four layers, one layer at a time with five to 15 minute intervals, or until a frost occurs.
2. How do you neutralize a chemical peel?
As you may remember from high school science class, there are acids and bases. Chemical peels, of course, are acids - as the name would imply. To neutralize the acid in a chemical peel, you most often need to apply a base. Bases are those solutions with a pH that's higher than 7. This is what makes baking soda a perfect neutralizer.
Before applying a peel, you'll need to ready a baking soda solution. The steps to neutralizing a lactic acid peel, glycolic peel or combination peel are all the same:
Leave the acid on for the recommended amount of time.
- Apply the baking soda solution to cover all areas of your face that have come into contact with acid.
The exception to this rule is a TCA acid. Some people refer to TCA as self-neutralizing, however, the nature of a TCA is simply to stop its penetrating action once it's gone through one skin layer. This is why a TCA peel is reapplied after five to 15 minutes.
Because TCA cannot be neutralized, once you've completed the desired depth, you'll only use cool water to wash the solution off your skin. This also provides a soothing feeling, which can be enhanced and prolonged with the use of a small fan, OTC analgesics like Ibuprofen and an appropriate post-peel moisturizer.
3. How long does a chemical peel last & how long should I wait between peels?
The initial results of a peel depend entirely on its depth, and no peel's results are permanent. However, all peels provide cumulative results. Our peels include enough solution for eight to ten full face peels, which is often enough for six months to one year of regular peeling.
Lactic Acid: 1-2 times per week
Glycolic Acid: every 2-4 weeks
Alpha/Beta Peels: every 3-6 weeks
Jessner's Peels: every 4-6 weeks
TCA: every 2-4 months
A chemical peel can be performed at repeating intervals as part of a regular skin care regimen.
4. How long does a chemical peel take to heal?
Downtime for a chemical peel varies. A light chemical peel and a medium chemical peel will not have the same recovery time, and even these might provide different experiences depending on the patient.
Lactic acid peel downtime:
This is a flash peel that's designed to offer resurfacing results. Your skin will not peel from this acid.
Glycolic acid peel downtime:
Glycolic acids at the lower concentrations (20 & 30 percent) are considered light peels that result in little to no actual peeling. The stronger glycolics (40 & 50 percent) will result in some immediate redness and very light peeling 2-3 days post-peeling.
Alpha/beta peel downtime:
At the 30 and 40-percent concentrations, there may be some redness and very light flaking in the days to follow. Although at the 50-percent concentration, the alpha/beta peel is still technically a "light" peel, expect to feel considerable stinging and redness directly following the peel. Over the next 1-2 weeks, expect light to moderate peeling.
Jessner's acid peel downtime:
A Jessner's peel's depth can be adjusted with the time left on the skin. Therefore, pain and peeling can range from very mild to moderate. After a medium peel, expect the peeling process to finish one to two weeks to be complete.
TCA peel downtime:
The 15-percent TCA solution is the mildest TCA we offer. At this concentration, it can provide light to medium-level peeling. Most people experience light to moderate peeling, and some redness and pain immediately following the peel.
At the 20 percent solution, trichloroacetic acid will result in moderate to heavy peeling with up to two weeks of downtime. The depth of the peel is controlled by the amount of time you leave it on your skin.
The 25-percent TCA peel is a deep chemical peel that requires a significant amount of downtime. After you're finished peeling, your skin will be red and will remain red until the peeling process starts. You'll begin to peel within two days of application, after which time your skin will begin to look dried out, leathery and aged. The majority of the peeling may be completed within 3-5 days, however, it can take up to two weeks for your skin to look completely renewed.
How long a chemical peel takes to heal might vary slightly, and it's important that the peeling process happen naturally. Your skin will peel in its own time, so never pick, pull or rub on scabs to encourage them to come off faster.
5. When can I wash my face after a peel?
You can clean your face at any time after a chemical peel. Whether post-peel or as part of a regular skin care regimen, it's important to use a cleanser that's pH-balanced and free of harsh soaps and detergents. Our post-peel cleanser is suitable for all skin types and recommended as a part of your chemical peel aftercare.
6. Is it OK to wear makeup after a chemical peel?
Depending on the depth of the peel, we recommend you abstain from makeup during the healing process. Since brushes, sponges and even the makeup itself contain small amounts of bacteria, and makeup application can result in unnecessary rubbing and tugging, makeup is not recommended after a peel such as a Jessner's or TCA.
7. When can I go out in the sun after a chemical peel?
Sun exposure is the most common reason for premature signs of aging, and a chemical peel makes your skin additionally vulnerable to damaging UV rays. In order to keep your new skin looking young and prevent additional damage, sun exposure is never recommended. Although the sun provides vitamin D and that "healthy glow", the CDC warns that there's no such thing as a safe tan.
Whether you've already had a chemical peel or are thinking of having a chemical peel in the future, it's important that you protect yourself every day with sun screen and other UV-blocking products such as hats, umbrellas, and long clothing.
8. How long after a chemical peel can I exfoliate?
It's important that you do not use an abrasive such as exfoliating scrub after a peel, while your skin is going through the peeling process. While you are peeling, do not use washcloths, loofahs, sponges or other exfoliating products.
Make exfoliating a part of your normal skin care routine, between peel treatments, to prolong the results of your chemical peel. Our microdermabrasion crystals can be used bi-weekly to resurface skin and cleanse pores, allowing new skin to shine.