Types of Skin Peels

by Kristina Brooks Editor

When performed correctly, peels can reduce impurities of the skin and in some cases make you look years younger. However, peels range in effects, severity, and price, so it’s best to know what’s right for you. This helpful guide can get you started.

Glycolic Peel

These mild peels are very popular because of their “natural” ingredients. Glycolic acid is one of many alpha hydroxy acids found in fruit. These break the bonds in the surface layers of skin, and rinse to reveal brighter, more youthful skin. Multiple glycolic sessions will be needed to see results, each costing $100-$300. Recovery lasts 1-2 weeks.

Alpha-Hydroxy Peel

Also on the milder side, AHA peels are a combination of other fruit acids like lactic, citric or salicylic acid. These can even be purchased over the counter. AHA peels separate dead skin from healthy skin to reduce acne or acne scars, smooth skin, even tone, and help with conditions like eczema and rosacea. Price and recovery are similar to glycolic peels.

Herbal Peel

These “green” peels combine all-natural herbal or marine ingredients and salicylic acid that works to penetrate pores. After, skin looks like a bad sunburn that peels away for five days to reveal fresh skin. These help solve skin troubles such as oily skin, sun damage, fine lines, dull or rough skin, large pores and redness. These can even be done at home, with full recovery in one week.

Phenol Peel

Phenols are extremely strong, and use carbolic acid to produce dramatic results in just one session. They help smooth and tighten skin, as well as rid skin of blemishes or scars. Side effects include scaling, oozing and soreness of skin. The initial recovery can take 2-4 weeks with redness for 3 months. Those with darker skin may suffer permanent discoloration. Prices range from $2,000-$6,000.

Trichloracetic Acid Peel

TCA peels remove multiple layers of skin to get rid of uneven tone, imperfections, and fine wrinkles that AHA peels miss, but aren’t as drastic as Phenol peels. The results are more noticeable, with a lesser chance of skin discoloration. Side effects are similar to phenol peels but recovery time is reduced to a few weeks. Prices range from $1000 - $2,000.

Enzyme Peels

Enzyme peels are more similar to facials than peels. They use enzymes from fruits like apples or papayas to help stimulate natural skin renewal, and are usually followed by a mask or moisturizer. Enzyme peels can be done at home, but require many intricate steps and should not be worn for too long. Look for enzyme scrubs or cleansers as an alternative, $30 - $200.

Kristina Brooks
Meet Our Writer
Kristina Brooks

Kristina Brooks was a digital editor at HealthCentral with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. She helped launch HealthCentral's inaugural MythWeek.