Chemical peels sound drastic, but they are actually a very carefully controlled process of exfoliation and removal of the outermost layer of skin. This can trigger the natural healing process of the skin and induce collagen production leading to brighter, more radiant skin. Chemical exfoliation has been used throughout history for over 3,500 years. Lactic acid from milk and tartaric acid in grape skins were used by the Ancient Egyptians and are still found in several cosmetic products today.

We talk about peels in relation to the depth of skin they will treat.

Superficial peels treat the outermost layers of skin and are generally associated with minimal redness and peeling. The best results are seen with a course of at least three to four treatments.

Medium-depth peels treat the layers deeper down, and you may experience some mild peeling and redness.

A deep peel is an intensive treatment designed to reach deeper skin layers to tackle particular problematic issues. Redness and peeling would be expected here.

They can be useful for a range of skin concerns, including:

  • Acne and acne scarring
  • Pigmentation, including age spots and melasma
  • Rough, dull skin
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Fine lines and wrinkles

​Our chemical peels from SkinCeuticals and Obagi Medical class as superficial depth peels, and as such, the downtime is still very minimal.

Treatment takes 30 minutes

Minimal downtime, mild redness or flaking

Immediately brighter and smoother

Course of 3-6 treatments recommended

No anaesthesia required, some tingling can be felt

Complications are rare



A fantastic superficial, salicylic acid-based peel from Obagi Medical with minimal downtime and excellent results.

The Obagi Blue Peel Radiance can be helpful if you are looking to improve overall complexion, fine lines and wrinkles, rough texture, blemishes and mild to moderate photo ageing (e.g. sun spots).

For best results, a course of three to six treatments is recommended


The Gel peel from Skinceuticals utilises a high concentration of glycolic acid, buffered with lactic acid to reduce the acidity and improve hydration and moisturizing.

It is a good ‘entry-level’ peel. It can be used to help with photodamage, fine lines and wrinkles, rough skin texture, and a dull complexion. For acne-prone skin, it is very good at preparing the skin for extractions.

A course of three to six is recommended for best results, spaced two to four weeks apart.

MICRO 20 or 30 PEEL

A micro 20 or 30 peel from Skinceuticals is a superficial-medium depth advanced exfoliating peel using unbuffered 20% or 30% glycolic acid.

​It is designed to restore radiance to dull, rough skin and help tackle signs of photo ageing such as discolouration, lines, and wrinkles.

​We usually recommend a course of four to six treatments to see the most improvement.


The pigment balancing peel penetrates more deeply and comprises brightening and anti-inflammatory ingredients alongside the exfoliating acids.

It is designed to help with more stubborn problems like pigmentation, lines and wrinkles and acne by providing powerful exfoliation to accelerate skin renewal and brighten the skin.

​We recommend a course of four to six treatments to get the best results.


Superficial exfoliating chemical peels using salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid to brighten and smooth the complexion.

The best results are seen with a course of three to six treatments.

Obagi Blue Peel Radiance
from £85

Superficial salicylic acid peel

Skinceuticals Gel Peel GL
from £85

Superficial glycolic and lactic acid peel

Hydrafacial with Skinceuticals Gel Peel GL
from £210

Combine two favourite treatments for the ultimate exfoliation

Skinceuticals Micro 20 or 30 Peel
from £95

Superficial 20% or 30% glycolic acid peel

Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing Peel
from £105

Superficial glycolic and citric acid peel with vitamin C


What can chemical peels help with?

Chemical peels are most frequently performed on the face, but they can be used on other areas and the neck, décolletage and hands are also popular treatment areas.

Chemical peels are particularly popular for the following indications:

  • Ageing skin
  • Acne and acne scarring
  • White-heads and black-heads
  • Blotchy, flaking, dry or oily skin
  • Pockmarks and small scars
  • Fine lines/wrinkles
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Age spots
  • Large pores
  • Uneven skin tone and texture
  • Pigmentation

Chemical peels cannot be used for very deep lines or scars, loss of volume, or lines that are caused by muscle action or sagging skin. 

Will it hurt?

Superficial chemical peels are usually pain-free or create a mild stinging sensation when they are applied. If you have sensitive skin, you may experience some discomfort and burning with superficial or mid-depth peels.

We will be constantly checking with you to see how your skin is coping with the treatment, and we can quickly remove the peel solution if it becomes too uncomfortable.

When will I see the benefit?

The immediate effect from our chemical peels is that your skin feels smoother and brighter. With some of the medium-depth peels your skin may feel a bit pink or blotchy, however this rapidly eases.

Over the next few days, your skin should continue to enjoy the improvement in texture, and you may develop a bit of dryness or flakiness. 

Common areas for this to occur are around the corners of the nose and mouth.

For treatment of concerns like pigmentation, age spots, lines and wrinkles, a course of treatments is recommended as these concerns take time to change.

Am I suitable for a chemical peel?

As chemical peels are non-invasive, most people are suitable for superficial or medium-depth treatment.

However, you may not be suitable for treatment if any of the following apply:

  • Recent aesthetic treatment, including laser/IPL, microdermabrasion, micro-needling, botulinum toxin or dermal fillers.
  • If there is an infection or inflammation in the treatment area, including warts or cold sores.
  • If you have been using Roaccutane (isotretinoin) in the previous 12 months.
  • If you have an underlying medical condition or autoimmune disease that may affect treatment.
  • If you have eczema, dermatitis, sunburn or previous radiation therapy in the area.
  • If you have a history of keloid or hypertrophic scarring.
  • If you have severe pigment problems such as vitiligo.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding (although certain peels are possible in pregnancy, make sure your practitioner/therapist is aware that you are pregnant or trying to conceive).
  • Allergy to aspirin if the peel contains salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid often used for acne).
  • If you have a darker skin type as you will be at a higher risk of pigmentation problems following a chemical peel. We recommend that you should seek out a practitioner or therapist experienced in the treatment of darker skin.
  • For deep peels, particular phenol peels, you may need to have blood tests to check your kidney and liver function prior to treatment.

It is important to be honest about your medical history, previous procedures, skincare products used and any medication taken so that you can have a safe and effective treatment.

I'm worried about looking so red and my skin peeling off!

This is exactly why we don’t like the name ‘chemical peel’!

Like most of our patients, we don’t have the time to have a treatment and then stay indoors for a week, unable to go out because our skin is so red and uncomfortable.

We want good results with minimal downtime, so that is why we have carefully chosen these peels for our clinic.

They are all very effective and have very minimal downtime.

Are there any side effects from the chemical peel?

The chemical peels we use in our clinic are superficial to medium peels, and most people tolerate the side effects well.

Generally, side effects are uncommon from superficial chemical peels and if they do occur, they are often mild and usually resolve within a few days after treatment. The deeper the peel, the greater the risk of adverse effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • Redness of the skin, like sunburn
  • White discolouration/blotchiness of the skin
  • Itching of the skin
  • Dryness, flaking of the skin
  • Swelling, particularly in the under-eye area

What ingredients are in the peels?

The Obagi Blue Peel Radiance uses a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) called salicylic acid. This acid can penetrate into the pores allowing for exfoliation within the pore. For acne-prone skin, this ingredient is key to preventing blocked pores which can lead to a build-up of oil, dirt and skin cells and ultimately a large spot.

SkinCeuticals peels mainly use an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) called glycolic acid. This is probably the most well-known AHA. It chemically breaks the bond which holds the old, dead skin cells together on the surface of the skin, allowing them to be naturally sloughed away. The use of glycolic acid helps to improve the brightness and radiance of the skin, and also helps other ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively.

Are you ready for brighter, smoother skin?