Superficial Chemical Peels

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Superficial chemical peels are the least abrasive of all chemical peel solutions and are meant to treat minor skin discolorations and uneven skin texture. During a chemical peel, a solution is applied to the treatment area which causes the sin to exfoliate and quite literally "peel off". In general, the more aggressive the treatment the more dramatic results, however, the recommended treatment will depend on desired depth of penetration, outcome, and tolerated recovery time.

Superficial Chemical Peels Overview - 669


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The Skinny

Average Recovery

0 days








$3000 - $6000

The Specifics

What is a superficial chemical peel?

A superficial chemical peel is a non-surgical skin resurfacing technique and the least invasive of the chemical peels. This type of peel is safe in most skin types. In a superficial chemical peel, chemical solutions, often with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and/or salicylic acid, are used to penetrate the epidermis (top layer of skin).

Superficial chemical peels can be used as a solo treatment or as pre-treatment to a medium depth chemical peel or deep chemical peel. A superficial chemical peel can create a more youthful skin texture or skin tone, and improve the appearance of signs of aging, blotchiness, brown spots, age spots, sun damage, and scars.

What cosmetic concerns does a superficial chemical peel treat?

Exfoliation of the outermost skin layer from a superficial chemical peel can help to smooth, brighten, and refine the complexion by exfoliating and promoting the growth of skin cells.

  1. Acne: Cleansing of the top skin layers removes acne causing bacteria and unclogs pores.
  2. Acne Scars & Scars: Superficial peels over time can debride scar tissue and encourage healthy cell growth.
  3. Rosacea: Cleansing and exfoliation can help to alleviate some of the common symptoms of rosacea.
  4. Uneven Skin Tone: Superficial chemical peels can exfoliate damagaed skin cells to remove uneven pigmentation.
  5. Melasma: Exfoliation of upper skin layers can help to lessen the appearance of melasma symptoms.
  6. Uneven Skin Texture: Superficial Peels remove built up deposits of sebum and dead/damaged skin cells.
  7. Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Refreshing the complexion with gentle superficial chemical peels can alleviate early signs of aging.

Who is the ideal candidate for a superficial chemical peel?

The ideal candidate for a superficial chemical peel is looking to improve the appearance of mild fine lines/wrinkles, uneven skin tone or texture, or acne. Superficial chemical peels are safe in dark skin tones, however, there is a higher risk of hypopigmentation. Superficial chemical peels are not recommended for those with active skin infections, sunburns, or open wounds.

What is the average recovery associated with a superficial chemical peel?

There is little to no downtime following a superficial chemical peel. Minimal skin erythema (redness) with some flaking and dryness usually resolve within a few days. Most candidates return to all normal activities immediately following the treatment. Candidates should take care to limit sun exposure and utilize good sunscreen and skincare for the first few days after the treatment.

What are the potential side effects of a superficial chemical peel?

Possible side effects following a superficial chemical peel are few, but may include skin irritation, skin dryness and flaking, discoloration (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation), and erythema (redness).

What can someone expect from the results of a superficial chemical peel?

The results of a superficial chemical peel will develop over two weeks as skin heals. Four months of treatments every one to two weeks are typically used to create the desired aesthetic, and then patients switch to maintenance treatments every six months. The results are temporary and will be subject to natural aging and photo-damage.

What is the average cost of a superficial chemical peel?

Superficial chemical peels cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. The actual cost of a superficial chemical peel is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure. Learn more in our complete guide to the cost of chemical peels.


  • Minimal Recovery Time
  • Minimal Interference In Activities
  • Treats Fine Wrinkles
  • Improves Skin Dryness
  • Pigmentation Changes
  • Improves Acne
  • Smooths Rough Skin
  • Improves Skin Texture


  • Only Superficial Issues
  • Temporary
  • Multiple Treatments

Invasiveness Score


Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

What to Expect

Superficial chemical peels are meant to treat minor skin discolorations and uneven skin texture. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a superficial chemical peel.

The Takeaway

A superficial chemical peel is the least invasive type of chemical peel skin resurfacing. The peeling agents used in this type of peel penetrate only the outermost skin layer to correct minor to mild skin concerns with little recovery time and risk of undesirable side effects.

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Source List


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  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association Chemical Peels: Overview


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