Chemical Exfoliation
372 Reviews
Chemical Exfoliation
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
Chemical Exfoliation
Side Effects
Chemical Exfoliation’s Real World Take
Common sense might tell us that chemical peels seem like such a great idea for acne, but in the real world, acid alone just doesn’t seem to completely take care of acne. They can also be expensive and leave the skin red and peeling for a few days every time you get one.
Chemical Exfoliation
How to Get It
Have a dermatologist? Make an appointment to get this procedure done. Don't have a dermatologist? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find one. Do not try this at home!
Read All About Chemical Peels
Compare To Other Treatments

Used Chemical Peels? Rate It:

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August 10, 2020
chemical peel

Benzoyl peroxide usually helps control my mild acne, but since I had some hyperpigmentation I decided to get a chemical peel done. So far I am only on day 2, but my acne came back worse than before ( even though it had cleared up), I am not sure if I am purging or just having a bad reaction, but I will write an update in a week. As of right now it looks terrible, probably the worst it has ever been. 

March 23, 2019
Salicylic and Pyruvic Peels

I had 3 each of these peels over a space of 3 months. I stopped using any benzoyl peroxide treatments whilst having these peels as I was not allowed and they ended up doing about the same as what benzoyl peroxide every night does. I was on the antibiotic lymecycline whilst having these peels and my skin got a lot worse after the first 2 peels but seemed to get better after each one. They made my skin a great texture with no side effects wheres benzoyl peroxide made my skin very dry and red however, the peels cost around £650 for 6 wheres a topical treatment costs £8.80 on prescription. Chemical peels are just hit and miss depending on your acne and unfortunately they didn't work for me the way I wanted them too however, if you have the money to do so though I would definitely say give it a go - it is a great experience but an expensive one!  

October 7, 2018
Product used: Glycolic Acid Peel
I saw an instant small difference day by day!
If you guys want to start with a low percentage of glycolic acid. I bought the murad resurfacing peel pads for 40$(I know it's a lot but I wrote a tip below). On the first application I felt a tad tingling and left it on for 3 minutes. The next morning I was both happy because some of my bad acne marks were a tiny bit lighter and I was also happy because I finally saw hope. I have been using it every other night just because I want to give my face a night of rest and don't want to irritate or harm it. I also have been cutting each pad in half since 40$ is a lot and half was still good and showing results. After like a month I can finally not wear any make up and not like hate my skin and Iv been loving my skin. Eventually though (not sure exactly when) but I completely stopped feeling the tingling and I think my skin is use to the 10% now so I bought 20% on skin obsession on amazon( has pretty good reviews). Gunna try it out. But yeah I recommend the wipes and I'm glad I bought them and also that I started at 10%. Just to know I'm trying but also making sure I'm playing it safe and not being to desperate for fast results and maybe harm my skin.
November 24, 2017
Product used: Glycolic Acid Peel
glycolic acid and skincare routine using natural products got rid of acne marks and acne scars.
all you have to do to get a clear acne free skin and to avoid future breakouts is to follow a regular skincare routine with all natural products. like cleansing, toning, moisturizing and exfoliating or scrubbing. i first take off my makeup with some oil based cleanser then i exfoliate my skin with apricot scub (you can use any brand) after scrubbing my skin i use some foam based cleanser which contains salicylic acid which is a face wash, after that i apply rose water as a toner with the help of a cotton ball, then i apply store bought aloe vera gel as my moisturizer i let it soak in after it is soaked into my skin after 5 minutes then i apply glycolic acid 12% cream at night. by following this skincare routine my skin is pretty much clear now acne free and my mild acne scaring has reduced it isn't noticeable and it got rid of acne marks in just a few weeks i don't get any whiteheads or pimples anymore, because regular exfoliating your skin gets rid of dead skin cells which causes whiteheads and rose water has anti bacterial properties which kills bacteria on your face that's why your pores less likely to get infected. and i use an apricot scrub thrice a week even though I'm using glycolic acid cream everyday it avoided my initial breakout which glycolic acid could've caused. and for morning routine i wash my face with the foaming cleanser face wash then i use rose water as a toner then aloe vera gel as a moisturizer above that i use sunscreen then do my makeup and ready to start off my day. by following this skincare routine my skin produces less oil now, my skin was super oily before now its balanced. i don't get any whiteheads and pimples and all my acne marks have cleared up and my mild acne scaring reduced so much.
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April 27, 2017
Better, and hopefully almost there
I'm only rating this based off of my results with acne, but honestly it's a 5/5 stars when it comes to the overall health of skin, my breakouts are still coming but majorly reduced. I get really severe cystic acne (unknown cause, possibly hormonal), and I've tried so many products and nothing has completely reduced/gotten rid of my breakouts. Before my first peel all the way back in September, I used to get my worst breakouts on the sides of my face (near eyes, forehead, and my jawline and also on my cheeks). I had the absolute worst cystic acne I've ever seen. It was disgusting and even when my breakouts would subside for a while, it wouldn't matter because I had so much redness/discoloration/uneven skin tone/huge pores left over from every breakout I've ever had. I'd get breakouts that would last for months at a time and even when they'd finally go away, I was left with huge red/blue and even purple cystic spots. It's important to mention I was on minocycline for a year at this point and the damn dermatologist kept saying "yeah it's getting better, keep taking the meds and come back in three months". (Such garbage, I know). I thought my skin would never be the same again, but I'm happy to say that since my first peel I haven't had breakouts in certain areas of my face. Like I said, I used to get the worst breakouts around the sides of my face and my cheeks, and I hardly get breakouts there anymore. I haven't had any breakouts on the sides of my face or my jawline since the first peel. I can't even see the discoloration from those breakouts I had before and I never thought that it would get any better. The only place I am still having trouble is, unfortunately, the center of my face. I still get breakouts between my eyes, in my eyebrow area, under my nose (the absolute worst place ever to get a cyst) and I've had a few small ones on my chin under my lower lip. Though I still get breakouts, they're less severe, and they don't last nearly as long. This isn't the only thing I've done with my skin though, I think a combination of the peel and trying new skincare products have helped my skin but I don't think I could have made it this far without the peels. I've had four so far (I think) and I'm going in for another one this weekend to hopefully get rid of my breakouts for good. I have only been getting Vi Peel though, no other brand.
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1 user(s) found this helpful

August 7, 2017
Is it useful for red acne scars??
February 9, 2017
Didn't work for me.
I was really really excited to try this. I even bought 5 different chemical peels "sample size" to try on my face. In case if one won't work at least the others will do !!. of course, u have to be very careful with this and start with low percentage if u want to try it on yourself at home. actually the peels came with clear and easy instructions to follow. I bought the mandelic acid 40% and 4 others. I tried the mandelic for almost 1 month and half. and i was getting breakouts everywhere. i was telling myself this is the purging effect and i was expecting it and ready emotionally and physically for it. then i started getting acne on my forehead, my temples and near to my mouth. i rarely get acne on those areas. so i was like what is happening! . i was really hopping that this could work it's magic and tadaaa clear skin.. but no !. so i just stopped using it.. i tried two other different peels and the exact same thing happened. it might be just my face doesn't react nicly to chemical peels or the brand. I don't know. However, once I stopped using it my face returned to its normal state with the same amount of acne i was previously getting. so if u want to try this, i would say go for it. it might work for u. but keep an eye on your face. if it gets worse and worse even after 6 to 8 weeks just discontinue using it. plez note; that the chemical peels did remove some old dead skin layers. P.s: skin type: oily / very sensitive skin type with some rosacea bumps appearing after using somthing that is not suitable for me..
April 24, 2016
not really worth it for cystic/hormonal acne :/
I've gotten a chemical peel twice and both times have really done nothing much except for the areas where I didn't have any acne anyway Basically, if you wanna get rid of scars or huge pores or black/white heads, then yeah, by all means this works. It did dry up the pimples and cystic acne I had, and it came off, however, after those were peeled off, I saw brand new ones underneath. Like yes, it'll take your current pimples out, but if you consistently get acne, then there would be new ones underneath. Basically, after both times, my skin still wasn't anything close to being clear. As tempting as it is I do not want to go through a week of that again. Not quite worth it
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7 user(s) found this helpful

March 26, 2016
Product used: Glycolic Acid Peel
White male, 23, medium acne scarring - excellent results
I have been using this for around 5 weeks now, have gotten exceedingly good results. Less visible scars and overall less Acne. This is the closest thing you will get to a "quick" fix for acne. Be warned however, this stuff can easily f**k your face up for life. You want to research this stuff before you try it at home. Don't go full retard and start with 70% just because you are desperate and can't wait a few weeks for results'"you will regret it for the rest of your life. Start low, maybe around 30% (what i am using) or less, look up guides etc. I have tried a lot of stuff, but this is the only "cure" that i have found effective. Strongly recommend. I do repeat however, be careful with this stuff'"it can f**k you up for life, play it safe'"play it smart.
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41 user(s) found this helpful

January 17, 2016
great at clearing acne
I've been using a 30% salicylic acid peel once a week for about 3 months now. I remember the first time I used it, I thought it was an absolute miracle product! All my acne had practically dried out and was gone the next day, my skin was not oily whats so ever and the overall texture of my skin just looked amazing. These amazing results lasted for a while but soon enough it was like my skin just got used to it. While I still have acne, it definitely isn't as bad as it was which I think is the result of these peels! I probably need to go up to to 35 or 40% to get better results once again but with almost a whole bottle of the 30% left, I want to try and use that up a bit more. I'd definitely recommend anyone suffering from acne to try a salicylic acid peel. Just make sure you follow the directions that come with your peel 100% as you don't want to end up with a chemical burn or something even worse! If you have really sensitive skin also make sure you start of low on a 10 or 15% peel then go up from there gradually as your skin gets used to it.
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July 27, 2015
Results were not immediate.
I am 29 and have been battling acne for more than 10 years due to pcos. I came off birth control pills about 2 years ago and needed some alternative treatment as a preventive measure. My concerns now are oily skin, some discolourations and occasional breakouts. The derm suggested alternating between microdermabrasion and light chemical peels every four weeks. I did not see any difference at all till the third chemical peel and this was about four months after I started this programme. The derm also gave me 10% AHA cream and acne gel to apply every night, which also didn't do much for my skin. In fact I thought my skin was looking especially dull during this period. Everybody also told me the same. I am however quite pleased with the results after the recent chemical peel. I am happy I continued going for the treatments but I wonder if it is normal to see results until much later since my peels were light? My skin now is radiant, the discoloration and most of the milia seeds are gone and no blocked pores.
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Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.