What is the Best Chemical Peel for Acne Scars?

Which Chemical Peel To Choose For Acne Scar Treatment Feature Image

Acne scars are often the result of lesions that tend to damage the collagen layer of the skin. Once they occur, a raised or a depressed portion of the skin may occur. A chemical peel is one of the most effective acne scars treatments. It involves the application of concentrated chemicals to get rid of scarred skin cells. 

This then allows the growth of healthy cells to take place.  Chemical peel procedure can be used to treat scars, wrinkles [1], and discoloration of the skin. There are different types of chemical peels available.

What are Chemical Peels?

These are resurfacing procedures that cause the top layer of the skin to peel off for a smoother appearance. Most peels have a gel-like consistency and are mostly used on the face, hand, chest, and neck. Once applied to the skin, these chemicals cause the skin to blister then peel. The purpose here is to get rid of dull surface skin cells.

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How Chemical Peels help with Scars

Even after acne has cleared, there will always be scars left behind. While they can clear with time, there are several tricks you can use to eliminate them with speed. A chemical peel is one of the expert-approved methods. Some of its proven benefits include:

  • Dark spot lightening
  • Smooth tone and texture
  • Unclogged pores to prevent future breakouts

Peels have been found to be more effective at eliminating scars than physical exfoliators such as topical scrubs. Not only do these procedures remove dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, but also stimulate the natural response of the body to produce collagen necessary for filling the scars. However, do not be mistaken for microdermabrasion as topical scrubs as microdermabrasion for scar works tremendously for a lot of people as well.

Why Chemical Peel Procedure is done

These procedures are used to treat various skin problems. Because they contain various acid combinations which penetrate the skin in unique levels, do not panic if you happen to experience some irritation or peeling. Discomfort is likely to be felt shortly after application, roughly about 20 minutes later. Any of these three procedures can be chosen depending on the depth of the problem.

  • Light chemical peel: Light chemical peel is used to remove the epidermis. It can be used to treat acne, fine wrinkles, dryness, and uneven skin tone. Depending on the results you desire, it can be repeated every 2-5 weeks.
  • Medium chemical peel: Here, skin cells are removed from the outer layer of the skin and parts of the dermis. This procedure can treat acne scars, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles. Maintain the results by repeating this procedure after every 3-9 months.
  • Deep chemical peel: This procedure removes cells from the outer layer of the skin and portions of the mid layer of the dermis. If precancerous growths are found or your scars and wrinkles are deep, your doctor may recommend this procedure. It is only performed once.

Home Remedies to Resurface the Skin

If you want to try a chemical peel procedure at home, be sure to pick the right acids to avoid hurting your skin. Home procedures are best for light surface scars and not the depressed type. Avoid purchasing the peels from online outlets you are not familiar with. Instead, get them from a reputable source.

Here are some of the Peels you can Purchase

  • Lactic acid: Ideal for all skin types and can fade dark spots
  • Glycolic acid: Good for oily and normal skin. It exfoliates the skin’s surface layer
  • Mandelic acid: Excellent for all skin types and darker skin tones
  • Salicylic acid: Best for oily and acne-prone skin types
  • Phytic acid: Best for sensitive skin

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Other Treatments


This is one of the deepest types of treatments and must be used under the supervision of a doctor. It penetrates to the dermis and requires about 2 hours to apply. This type improves atrophic acne scars. Because of the intensity of this procedure, it is important that you be aware of the side effects it presents, including infection and discoloration.

Trichloracetic Acid

This is effective in medium procedures because it requires less recovery time. It penetrates deeper than a superficial peel reducing the appearance of blemishes, fine lines, and irregular pigmentation. This method is also used to remove acne scars and is often a great option for people with darker skin due to its side effects of pigmentation irregularities. The pigmentation irregularities may include deeper peels like the phenol peel.

Glycolic Acid

This is a superficial chemical peel derived from sugarcane. It does not penetrate beyond the epidermis but penetrates the pores, encouraging the release of dead skin cells. This then improves the appearance of the skin. Glycolic acid is used to reduce minor acne scars and can also minimize redness normally associated with scarring.

Potential Benefits

  1. Exfoliation

The reason these procedures are chosen is their capacity to leave a smoother looking skin. These procedures also produce a silkier toned skin allowing it to absorb skin-care products better.

  1. Minimize Hyperpigmentation

The milder peels can be used to treat freckles, sun spots, and pigmentation problems. They can also minimize the appearance of fine lines caused by the sun, leaving a younger skin.

  1. Reduced Blemishes

Some peels can be used to control breakouts and reduce scarring. These peels are great at unclogging pores. Lactic and salicylic acids, for example, are the best for clearing acne.

Are there Downsides to Chemical Peels?

Just like any other form of medical treatment, there are several negative effects that may occur. Glycolic peels, for instance, may present complications such as hyperpigmentation and crusting.  Some of the side effects you are likely to experience include:

  • Skin peeling
  • Numbness, burning, or numbness of the skin
  • Crusting
  • Redness
  • Dermatosis or scarring in people with sensitive skin

These side effects may only last for several days. The recovery time depends on several factors including your age, type of peel used, and past reactions you may have experienced with other treatments. For a milder and more convenient treatment, you can also consider checking out the benefits of microdermabrasion at home. There are benefits of microdermabrasion for hyperpigmentation, acne, stretch marks and more.

What are the Costs Involved?

Professional procedures are carried out at a dermatologist’s office. Although there are also over-the-counter medications, they tend to be less effective. The cost varies depending on the most effective type of procedure. If you need several of them to achieve results, the cost may be high. The average cost of treatment may range between $500-$700.

If you have an oily, combination, or acne-prone skin, you might want to replace the traditional creams with one of the best chemical peels available in the market.

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