Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician April 11, 2010

I think chemical peels are great and not just because they are part of my repertoire as an esthetician.  I like to think of chemical peels as a “reboot” for your skin allowing healthy skin appear.  A series of chemical peels can help treat a myriad of skin issues.  There really is no reason not to try one.

This post addresses the issue of chemical peels performed by estheticians.  There are plenty of “peels” that are available for home use.  Peels that you use at home provide very superficial peeling, simply exfoliation, and can help you maintain even toned, healthy skin.  Chemical peels performed by estheticians have a lower pH than home use products so that they can penetrate much deeper into the skin, will normally cause you to turn red, a lot of time your skin will peel following a peel, and these peels, when performed in a series, can treatment skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation and acne.  Simply put – a chemical peel performed by an esthetician will do a lot more for your skin than a home use product called a peel.

What Are Chemical Peels?

There are many different types of chemical peels, and each company that sells peels has its own series of formulations.  Having said that the chemical peels used by estheticians are generally a solution that has a combination or sometimes just one alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA).   The solution is applied to the skin, normally in layers though some peels are simply one layer, like a treatment mask.  The peel is either removed at the end of the treatment or left on to self-neutralize.  The acids in the peel work to dissolve the top layers of the skin creating a controlled wound and thus allowing the skin to regenerate itself.

Reasons to get a Chemical Peel

A chemical peel will:

  1. Improve the texture of your skin
  2. Increase the cell turnover rate of your skin
  3. Improve your skin’s ability to hold moisture
  4. Help your skin produce more collagen
  5. Reduce fine lines
  6. Decrease hyperpigmentation
  7. Unclog pores and help clear up acne
  8. Leave your skin smooth
  9. Make your skin softer
  10. Make your skin look more even-toned
  11. Give you a “glow”
  12. Make your skin look dewy
  13. Improve minor scarring

A chemical peel cannot make dramatic improvements to deep wrinkles or very sagging skin.  Conditions like that need to be treated with lasers or cosmetic surgery.

Who Can Get a Chemical Peel?

Truthfully pretty much anyone can get a peel as long as they don’t have any of the contraindictions listed below for peels.  Generally people with darker skin need to take more precautions before getting a peel and must make sure that the peel they are receiving is formulated for their skin type.  The reason for this is that very strong chemical peels can actually cause more hyperpigmentation on darker skin.

Contraindications:  It is generally recommended that pregnant and nursing women not receive peels since there are no studies, as of yet, about the effects of peels on fetuses or nursing babies.  You cannot get a peel if you have been off Accutane for less than 6 months.  If you are prone to cold sores a peel can actually bring on an outbreak so you need to take anti-viral medication before, the day of, and the day after your treatment.  Also if you have a tendency to scar, are taking antibiotics, have cancer or an autoimmune disease, or have an open sore you cannot get a chemical peel.

Everyone’s skin will be more sensitive to sunlight following a peel so make sure that you have plenty of sunscreen on hand after your peel, and be sure to vigilantly apply and reapply your sunscreen after a peel.  Hopefully the esthetician who performed the peel will either include post-peel products in the price of the peel or have them available for purchase at a reasonable price.

Make sure that the esthetician who is performing the peel has asked you an extensive list of questions before going ahead with your peel.  An esthetician must keep many factors in mind before performing a peel so that the client gets the best possible result with the fewest possible side effects.  You will be asked questions about medical conditions, allergies, the products you are currently using, and the results you want to achieve.  You may also want to go with a lighter peel the first time you get a chemical peel and build up the strength of your peels from there.  All of these issues should be discussed with your esthetician before you receive your first peel.

How Are Peels Performed?

Before you get a peel you should exfoliate at home or have a professional microdermabrasion treatment so that your skin in properly prepped for the peel.  Your skin will be cleansed and “degreased” before the peel is actually applied.  This means that all surface oils and debris are removed so that the peel can penetrate properly.

How Does It Feel?

Generally you will feel a warmth over the area being peeled during the procedure.  The esthetician performing the peel will either fan the area being peeled or provide you with a small electric fan to hold over the area.  You may feel stinging, burning, and even itching while the peel in performed.  Those sensations will stop once the peel is over.  Your esthetician will check in with you throughout the peel so if you ever feel any great discomfort she or he will know to stop the peel immediately.

What to Expect After a Peel

As I already mentioned first and foremost your skin will be quite sensitive to the sun following a peel so be extra vigilant about sunscreen use following your peel.   Because of this it usually isn’t a good idea to get peels in the summer or right before going on a vacation to a warm climate.

Following a peel your skin will feel tight and then a little dry.  You may remain red for an hour or so following the peel.  If you peel after the chemical peel treatment peeling will begin approximately 3 to 5 days following your peel.  The extent of peeling varies according to the person and the depth of the peel.  Not everyone peels following a chemical peel actually.  Some people have some mild itching following their peels.

Keep In Mind

Because chemical peels are stimulating you actually need to modify your lifestyle behavior slightly following a peel so that you don’t cause any unneeded irritation or hyperpigmentation to your skin.  So following a peel avoid excessive exercise with sweating for a few days.  Don’t scrub or pick at your face.  You cannot use retinol products or AHA products for at least 10 days following your peel.  And avoid any sort of excessive heat source like a sauna or hot tub.

How Often Can You Get a Chemical Peel?

Generally it is best to get a peel every four to six weeks.  But if you suffer from acne there are some peels that you can do every two weeks until you get the results you want.  Generally it is a great idea to buy a series of four or five peels up front so that you can achieve the treatment results that you want.  Also when you buy a series of peels upfront you will probably receive a discount.  Consider buying a deal that allows you to get chemical peels interspersed with microdermabrasion treatments or facials.  The microdermabrasions and the facials will enhance the results of the peel by helping to exfoliate the flaky skin you have on your face.  These treatments will also help prep your skin for your next peel.

When Will You See Results?

Truthfully chemical peels can be a bit unpredictable.  Some people see results as little as 10 days after their peels.  Other people won’t see results until about three weeks following their peel.  And for people who receive many facial treatments a chemical peel may just enhance the normal way their skin always looks.

Sources and Further Reading


38 Responses to “13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician”

  1. Keep posting, I enjoy hearing what you have to say! I’m bookmarking this page. Do you have any other blogs?

  2. Lena Says:

    The esthetician I currently see has given me two ultra-sonic micro-dermabrasion treatments. I saw a little bit of improvement afterward, but it was moderate and short-term. How do chemical peels differ from micro-dermabrasion? Is one more effective than the other?

    • I am curious to hear exactly how your treatment was performed. Did your esthetician do a microdermabrasion treatment and then use the ultra-sonic machine to penetrate a serum? I am assuming that the ultra-sonic machine you mentioned is like an ultrasound machine. Ultrasound machines are used to help penetrate products like serums and will product a temporary smoothing affect to the skin.
      Microdermabrasion machines use aluminum oxide crystals, sodium bicarbonate, or silicone particles that are sprayed out of a hand-piece onto the client’s skin in order to exfoliate. There are also microdermabrasion machines that have a rough tip on the hand piece and the tip is what does the exfoliation, not crystals. The esthetician controls the amount of pressure that the tip makes on the client’s skin and the flow of crystals. Both type of microdermabrasion machines exfoliate the skin more deeply than any at home exfoliation treatment.
      Chemical peels are generally stronger than microdermabrasion treatments. Notice that you will turn red and peel from a chemical peel but not from a microdermabrasion treatment. Usually you need 4 or 5 chemical peels to get the results that you want from that treatment, but you will need about 6 to 10 microdermabrasion treatments to get the same results. If you want a treatment with no downtime than microdermabrasion is for you. There is the risk of bruising, even scarring, and hyperpigmentation from microdermabrasion.
      If you have no contraindications for a chemical peel and have never tried one, I definitely think it is worth trying. Why not?

  3. Wendy Says:

    Two quick questions for you:

    (1) How do I know if my esthetician is a good one? Are there any specific signs of someone who is very competent?

    (2) Do you think the more expensive spas and salons (e.g. Burke Williams) have higher quality estheticians and products?

    Thanks for any guidance. I love reading your blog and really impressed with all the information you provide here.

    • Thanks Wendy for your questions and for your kind words! It is funny that you asked the above questions because I was planning on devoting a post this week to why you should go see an esthetician and how to find a good one. You beat me to it!
      I think the first sign of a good esthetician is how well they listen to you and try to understand your treatment needs and goals. I also think it is important for estheticians to be aware of the latest research and trends in the beauty and skincare world. If you don’t feel comfortable with an esthetician think of taking your business elsewhere; finding the right esthetician for yourself is a lot about chemistry – almost like a date. You can ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Some people are more skilled than others with waxing so I would get a recommendation from a friend or a friend of a friend if you are looking for waxing services. While receiving a treatment you need to feel relaxed and your esthetician should check in with you from time to time – ask how you are feeling, explain what is about to happen during the treatment, etc. Of course some people don’t like to talk during treatments. You can make that clear at the beginning by saying that you want to relax and chill out. The esthetician should realize that you don’t want to talk, hopefully.
      As for your second question – no, I don’t think more expensive salons and spas have better qualified employees or products. Some people just coast by on their name or the spa’s reputation. You could find a great esthetician who is very knowledgable who works out of her home and sells good products. Ask lots of questions. If you feel that the esthetician is just selling marketing bs or quasi scientific theories go to someone else. Estheticians should be honest and even undersell the outcome of their services but then over delivery during treatments.
      Please tell your friends about my blog – I always love more readers!

  4. cynthia Says:

    Another great way to find an esthetician is utilizing on-line review sites and reading reviews. I used yelp and hand-picked mine based on comments from actual clients. They were right!

  5. Stephanie Says:


    I just came across you blog and love all the information I’ve found. I was wondering if you had heard of the the Gloss Chemical Peel by Young Pharmaceuticals? I am thinking about getting one done in the next few weeks but I can’t find any real information on it yet. The esthetician at my dermatologists office is recommending it to me. I would appreciate any information you might have on this.

    Thank You,

    • Thanks for your question Stephanie. Unfortunately, no I haven’t heard of that peel at all. I tried looking for more information online and couldn’t find much. If you aren’t sure about the peel ask to do a consult with the esthetician and have her explain the peel ingredients, benefits, etc. to you. The esthetician should be able to answer all your questions and hopefully even give you something to read about the peel from the manufacturer. There are a lot of different peels out there, but they all do the basic same things in the end (as I described in my post). Sorry I can’t be of more help about that specific peel.

  6. Tameka Says:

    Love all the information also the comments;ill read all the time.

  7. raebreak Says:

    It’s really wiser to get an aesthetitian or a dermatologist. They are better equipped in case something happens.

  8. Ranjit Says:

    Hello this s Ranjith , i get razor bumps wenever i shave , i use multi blade razor( 5 blades ), it causes razor bumps , it has left scars on my neck , ive bought 30% glycolic peel and im really afraid to peel my neck ! Ive applied test patch on my shoulders and i didnt get any adverse reactions ! Wil i be able to get rid of nasty scars ? How long it wil take to COMPLETELY lighten it ? Plz reply

    • Depending on how deep your scars you may need to do multiple peels in order to see a difference in how your scars look. In the future use a salicylic acid wash or product after shaving in order to prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

  9. Anna Long Says:

    Love the post darling!

    So I am a wholistic esthetician in Portland Oregon and I have seen some great pigmentation improvements from a cream I carry with natural citrus oils in it. I don’t have much in the way of peels though (just a low-grade glycolic).

    Do you have a recommendation for a line that offers good peel products and most importantly great customer support and training?

    Hope to see you over at my blog soon!

    Anna (aka Miss Radiance)
    Opaline Spa

    • Hi! Thanks for your comments and questions. I like PCA peels; they offer great training too. If you are looking for an organic line check out TecNiche and Eminence.

      I would also post your question on one of the esthetician groups in Linked In. Our fellow estheticians are so generous with their comments and recommendations in those forums.

  10. Brian Says:

    I might recommend looking up Dr. L. Setterfield and read up on his postulations regarding the dangers of disorganizing keratinocytes in too aggressive a manner, or too often. It would be informative to include the disadvantages of excessive resurfacing and ablative treatments in addition to the wonderful perks of peels.

    You have a well thought out blog here by-the-by!



  11. Taramarie Says:

    Can they do a mask after a chemical peel?

  12. Kristy Says:

    What a great and detailed article! It convinced me to go for some chemical peels in Toronto treatments! The reasons are very good and I’m finding me in them! I’m pretty sure that the results are really great and I can’t wait to try it! I want to have a scars free skin!

  13. Mimi Says:

    I’m using acne treatment product that contain clindamycin phosphate and tretinoin. Do you think it would be safe if I use Lactic acid peel while using this product?

  14. JIAO Says:

    Hi, Thank you so much for this very detailed article. I am a Nigerian and i am planning on getting my first chemical peel. I spoke to an esthetician at one of the spas here and she has told me i would need to do some prep before i can start the peel. Its a five series total body peel. I have searched the internet for before and after pictures to complete my research before i commit to this but have found none. Once again thank you so much for all the info shared.

  15. Tatiana Says:

    Hi, I have had freckles since I was a kid, caused by sun exposure, I have been doing some research about chemical peelings since I am new to this, I have tried every cream on the market but nothing works, I want to get rid of them, I hate them! So I wanted a professional opinion, is a peeling the better solution to my problem? Is it effective eliminating freckles?, thanks!

    • Hi, thanks for your question. Peels and laser treatments could be an effective way to lighten freckles. Eliminating freckles completely would take a lot of time. Be patient and use a lot of sunscreen.

  16. […] 13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician … […]

  17. […] 13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician … […]

  18. […] considered a chemical peel? An article at Ask An Estheticians lays out the benefits of this […]

  19. Jane Rathmanner Says:

    I have had 2 chemical peels (first in my life) she said I would need about 6 before I see a difference. I have used the clarisonic for over a year now; however the last two peels there has been no peeling and no redness. She always does a facial after the peel. I’m new to this and starting to wonder if its a difference?

    • Hi, chemical peels are still effective even if you do not experience redness and peeling. Sometimes it takes time to see results from peels. I would discuss your concerns with your esthetician.

  20. Adriana Says:

    i have a question, can you do a jessner peel and a facial in the same day? if so what order would you do it in? and if so would i get peeling from it?

    • Thanks for your question. There are definitely peels that you can do at the same time as a facial; it really depends on the peel. I would discuss this question with the esthetician who is giving you the treatment.

  21. cee bee Says:

    I recently had my first microdermabrasion and lactic acid peel. It was done by an esthetician in a medical spa office. All turned out well–no reactions or problems. However, I found the esthetician to be lacking in the area of asking questions prior to the treatment and post procedural care. She never asked me ONE question prior to the peel, such as allergies or skin sensitivity. AND, the only instructions she gave me post were ‘Stay out of the sun’ and ‘use Cetaphil face wash’. Nothing about what to expect after my treatments, such as small scratches from the microderm (which took me by surprise), the dryness post procedure and using lots of moisterizer or even which symptoms warrant a call to the office. I’m very surprised that all of this was lacking. My daughter, who had the same treatment as me, called the office and let them know we never received a copy of post-procedure instructions…the office was not happy.

  22. We would love to share your blog post on our Facebook! Our Chemical Peels never disappoint, especially Specialty Compounding Bright Acids for Hyperpigmentation! Couldn’t agree more with this blog post!

  23. […] 13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician […]

  24. TheChefette Says:

    I’ve been looking to get this done but I’m a chef at a hospital and was wondering if the kitchen is to hot to work in as I recover. It’s not terribly hot like a sauna but is a little warm and I rarely sweat so I thought I’d be fine, what do you think?

    • It sounds like you should be fine, but it is best to explain all of this to the person who will be doing your peel. You might want to do a series of lighter peels in this case instead of just one or two stronger peels.

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