Chemical peels must be professionally-administered by an esthetician/cosmetician, nurse, or doctor, either at a beauty salon or doctor's office. Chemical peels can range from light/superficial to deep, but regardless of the depth or strength of the peel, they must always be applied only under the care of an experienced professional. Never try to buy high-strength acids or attempt to apply them yourself. Permanent damage and scarring could result.
Do they work? To a degree, yes. Chemical peels act on the skin in multiple ways to reduce acne, most notably by exfoliating the skin and increasing skin cell turnover, which helps pores from becoming clogged. However, chemical peels do not completely clear acne and must normally be used alongside other acne treatments to achieve completely clear skin.
Side effects: Depending on the depth of the peel, side effects can range from just a few days of peeling and redness all the way up to complete removal of the surface layers of skin and six months or more of resulting skin discoloration. Be sure to carefully choose the right peel for you.