Chemical Peels

Skin peels are one of the fastest growing Non-Surgical cosmetic procedures in the UK. The treatment offers a non-invasive approach to improving the appearance of the skin. They are broadly used and can take care of a whole range of skin conditions and imperfections.

The art of Chemical Peeling is a particularly valuable practice that corrects many skin problems. By promoting healthier skin, Peels help to restore and re-condition all skin types including wrinkles, acne, dry skin, oily skin, acne scarring, lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, frown lines, sun damage and dull/ lifeless skin.

A consultation is the best way to learn which peel best suits the needs of the patient by assessing the condition of the skin. To choose correctly, a Consultant/Practitioner will recommend and devise a skin programme that includes the most appropriate peel and range of skin care products to maximise the overall success of the treatment.

Almost everyone can benefit from a chemical peel. However, depending on the type of peel and skin condition, your Practitioner may not recommend treatment if you have:

  • Keloid scarring
  • Any type of skin infection on your face
  • Have been prescribed anti-acne treatment within the last 12 months i.e. isotretinoin
  • Asian or Afro-Caribbean skin, as there is an increased risk of hypo-pigmentation 
  • Are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Heart, kidney or liver damage. A deep chemical peel uses carbolic acid (phenol), which can damage the heart muscle and cause the heart to beat erratically and can also harm the kidneys and liver
  • Additional skin concerns including broken skin and extremely sensitive skin

During the consultation; several other factors should be considered also; including the patient’s lifestyle. The Skin Consultant will discuss at length the realistic and unrealistic expectations and will give the patient an informed guide to the contrast differences and types of chemical peels.

As mentioned, Chemical peels have a range of different variations dependant on the patient’s particular skin type/condition. The required result is typically dependant on the kind of peel used. For example; its potency/strength, how deep they permeate/penetrate and the length of time the peel is left on.
There are 3 types of peels with 3 main ingredients; a Superficial Peel that includes Alphahydroxy acid (AHA Peel),  a Medium Depth Peel that includes Trichloroacetic acid (TCA Peel) and a Deep Peel that includes Phenol.


Include; Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic and other fruit acids. This peel focuses on and works on the Epidermis layers of the skin.

Treatment Procedure: Typically, your skin will be cleansed and the peel is applied onto the area to be treated and is left for 5-10 minutes (dependant on which peel is used) before being removed with a neutralising solution.

Active ingredients: They are usually made from alpha Hydroxy or beta Hydroxy acids, known as AHAs and BHAs and include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid.
Best used for: They can be used to improve tone and texture, minimise fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, mild acne scarring, age spots and dry flaking skin.
What does it feel like: Superficial peels do not hurt; you only feel a mild tingling sensation.

Post-treatment Advice:

  • Cleanse the face gently, pat dry the skin with a towel, moisturise and apply sun block
  • Avoid picking/ peeling the skin as this may cause scarring
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun without applying sunblock
  •  If you notice any visible signs of infection, notify your practitioner

Recovery time: There is very little recovery time. Typically, the skin can be a little bit pink with some mild flaking

How many treatments: This mild peel generally needs to be repeated once a week for 4-6 weeks to gain a good result, which can then be maintained with monthly peels.
Results: The skin will be less oily and spots, blackheads and whiteheads/milia will clear up. Fine lines and wrinkles will lessen and the skin will look much fresher and even in tone.
Who can carry out this Procedure: Doctors, Nurses Medical Aestheticians and Beauticians.
Treatment cost: Starting cost is £60 (Cost is dependant on where you go for treatment).

Product brands which have Hydroxy Acid based superficial peels include: Filorga Glykopeel, MD Forte, Agera RX,  Jan Marini, LA Peel, Skinceuticals Gel Peels.


- penetrate the skin more deeply than superficial surface peels. This peel focuses on and works on both the epidermal layers and upper dermal layers of the skin.

Treatment Procedure: The skin is thoroughly cleansed before an even layer of the peeling solution is applied to the treated area, over several minutes the skin slowly becomes whitish/grey.  A fan is used to help as an aid to cool the face, cool pads soaked in water or salt water may be applied to the face to neutralise the peel.

Active ingredients: Usually derived from TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid)

Best used for: Medium depth peels give more impressive results than superficial peels. They treat imperfections and penetrate deeper into the skin and can be used to treat sun damage, fine lines and wrinkle, blemishes, acne scars and some pigmentation.

What does it feel like: As this is a medium depth peel, anticipate this procedure to be more uncomfortable than the superficial peel; as the skin experiences a burning sensation. The skin will feel tight and irritable from the treatment which can last from 30 minutes to an hour after treatment.

Post-treatment Advice:

  • Cleanse the face gently, pat dry the skin with a towel and apply a layer of antibiotic cream (this is generally advised by the practitioner) several times daily
  • Do not scratch or rub the treated skin, as this may cause the skin to bleed and scarring can occur
  • It is advisable to have a Follow-up appointment after the procedure
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun without a sunscreen once fully recovered
  • If you notice any signs of infection, scarring or pigment changes, contact your practitioner immediately

Recovery time: Usually 7 to 10 days. Swelling worsens for 48 hours. Blisters can appear. The face can become itchy and tight post treatment. Skin can be visibly pink and swollen for a few weeks or so.

How many treatments: This type of peel may be repeated monthly until the desired effect is achieved.
Thereafter, maintenance peels every 6 – 12 months should keep the skin looking good.

Results: Skin texture will improve, fine lines will reduce in their appearance. Acne scars and pigmentation will be visibly reduced after a course of treatment.

Who can carry out this Procedure: Doctors and Nurses.

Treatment cost: Around £500 upwards for a course of 4 TCA peels (Cost is dependant on where you go for treatment).

Product brands which have TCA based medium depth peels include: Skintech Peels and Obagi Blue Peel


- are the strongest kind of chemical peel available and can achieve remarkable results and works on the epidermis and upper/lower dermis of the skin. This Peel is considered to be a medical grade only.

Treatment Procedure: With deep peels (Phenol); a local anaesthetic is used to numb and reduce the feeling in the face to ensure no discomfort is felt during the treatment procedure. The skin is cleansed and the Phenol is applied, whereupon the skin immediately turns white in appearance. Treating one side of the face at a time, the peel is removed after about 30 minutes on each side.
N.B Patients are given intravenous (IV) fluids and the heart rate is closely monitored; as the phenol has the potential to cause an irregular heartbeat.

Active ingredients: Carbolic acid (Phenol peels) and/or a high strength TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) is used to permeate and penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin.
Best used for: It is used mainly on those who have deep / coarse wrinkles and areas of damaged skin caused by excessive sun exposure. Certain areas of the face can be treated and are more favourable with those who have deep lines and wrinkles around the mouth.
What does it feel like: You are likely to experience pain and discomfort post treatment, as the skin will be sensitive, tender and inflamed.

Post-treatment Advice:

  • Gently wash with warm water and pat dry with a towel and apply a layer of antibiotic ointment
  • Do not pick at flaking skin. After a deep peel, the face tends to scab, picking and peeling the skin can increase the risk of an infection, skin discoloration, and scarring
  • Return to your practitioner a couple of days after treatment to check on recovery
  • After your skin heals, apply sunscreen every day. This will help you maintain results
  • If you notice any signs of infection, scarring or pigment changes Contact your practitioner immediately

Recovery time: Extreme peeling with severe itchiness is to be expected and is at its worst a few days after the treatment. The skin will appear to be swollen for a couple of days and will then scab over. Although, the skin will heal in 1-2 weeks, redness can still be visible/noticeable for a few months after the treatment.

How many treatments:  With just one treatment procedure, improvements are visible with results lasting up to several years.

Results: As the surface of the skin is transformed and rejuvenated; the skin, looks clear, smooth and revitalised after this peeling process.

Who can carry out this Procedure: Dermatologist (skin specialist) or Plastic Surgeon.

Treatment cost: Over £2,000, dependant upon the type and extent of the problem treated (Cost is dependant on where you go for treatment).

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