Each peel is slightly different, and the exact formula will depend on the intensity level of the treatment. However, the most common chemicals used in peels are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and phenol. AHAs and BHAs are the lightest acids, often used in light chemical peels. TCA can be used in many different formulations. Last but not least, phenol is the strongest chemical and only used in deep peels.

Common side effects are bruising and swelling. Rarely, there is “serum sickness,” which manifests as flu-like symptoms that subside in a few hours, says Mulholland. “A dreaded complication is that the Botox travels through fatty tissues to muscles it wasn’t intended to block — like a muscle of the eyelid, which leads to ptosis (droopy eye), or the muscles that move the eyeball, leading to double vision.” He says these happen to less than one per cent of patients and go away within two weeks. The Botox Cosmetic website states asthma symptoms and inability to swallow have also been reported.
After being applied to the skin, chemical peels intentionally make the skin blister and then peel, although chemical peels are now considered safer than in years past and are less likely to leave skin feeling “raw.” (3) The purpose of peels is to remove dull surface skin cells, which typically leads to an improvement in fine lines, acne, discoloration and more.
The average chemical peel can cost $500–$700 for each treatment, but prices range from $150 for a mild peel up to several thousand dollars for a series of deep peels. (10) While this might seem like a steep cost for good-looking skin, chemical peels are still less expensive than superficial fractional-laser treatments, which can run up to $1,000 a session and usually require multiple treatments.
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