Chemical peels can reduce blotchy patches, manage acne, lighten skin pigments, and make your skin look younger and more refreshed without any need for surgery. But which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll outline the most common types of chemical peels, what they’re used for and their advantages.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels – AHA

AHAs are often used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven texture and tone the skin. This type of peel is considered to be a “superficial peel” that is applied directly to the skin to help separate dead skin from healthy skin. The most common AHA used is Glycolic acid, but you can also find lactic acid peels, citric acid and tartaric options as well. AHAs are the most popular among skin clinics because they are safe, non-invasive and require little downtime. In just one treatment you’ll notice smoother, younger-looking skin. And depending on the concentration used, it can take multiple treatments to achieve the desired results, but it’s the best treatment for normal to dry and sensitive skin types.

Beta Hydroxy Acid Peels – BHA

Unlike AHA, Beta Hydroxy Acid peels are oil soluble (not water soluble) which makes them the best solution for those with oily skin, enlarged pores, and sun damage. Salicylic acid, which is often used in acne products, is the most common BHA that is found in chemical peels. What makes BHAs so effective is that they’re more potent than glycolic acid and can reach deeper areas of the skin, which is why it’s often considered a resurfacing treatment. And although BHA peels are stronger than AHA, they are still considered to be mild-strength that is gentle on the skin with no downtime and little discomfort.

Trichloracetic Acid Peels – TCA

If you have significant brown spots and age spots, TCA can help. When applied to the skin, it causes the top layers to dry up and peel off over several days. This allows a new layer of fresh skin underneath to develop. TCA can be used to reach deeper layers of the skin depending on the concentration used, but these run a greater risk of blistering and possible scarring if not done correctly. Medium depth peels also require some time to heal, which is why some dermatologists have switched from TCA to lasers that offer more precise and controlled treatment with little downtime needed.

Pigment Balancing

For those who desire to improve their uneven skin tone, mottled appearance or dark spots, a pigment balancing peel could help lighten the colour of the skin. These types of peels often include vitamin C and glycolic acids to lighten and suppress pigment production and reduce the effects of sun damaged skin. They work by supporting healthy collagen levels and accelerating cell renewal by using anti-inflammatory agents mixed with powerful exfoliating solutions. Concentration levels can also be adjusted to customize the treatment to each patient’s needs.

Phenol Peels

Phenol peels are one of the deepest chemical peel options around that are used to address more serious imperfections. They provide dramatic effects and can treat deep wrinkles, severe sun damage and even precancerous growths. However, these often require local anesthesia and pain medication afterwards to reduce swelling. Depending on your skin type, it can also take months to recover completely, so it’s not often the best treatment method if you have sensitive skin.

Which One Is Right For You?

If you want fresh, smooth, firm, clear skin, a chemical peel is an excellent choice. However, there are so many different ones on the market; it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. To determine the peel that’s best for your skin type and condition, it’s essential to visit a skin clinic to have a medical aesthetician examine your skin and design a treatment plan that is customized to your needs.

At The Ottawa Skin Clinic, we offer specialized chemical peels that can replenish damaged skin and renew it with fresh, healthy layers. Our chemical peels work with AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) to exfoliate the skin and reveal the healthier, smoother skin below. Book an appointment today, so we can evaluate your skin and select the right AHAs and BHAs to target your skin type.