Professional vs. At-Home Chemical Peels: What’s The Difference?
Chemical peels are topically applied chemical formulations that revitalize the skin surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin cells. Peels work to rejuvenate and retexture the skin, addressing numerous issues including acne, sun damage, wrinkles, pigmentation issues (brown spots), and dullness.
If you are considering a chemical peel you might be overwhelmed with the amount of choices available. Chemical peels are not one-size-fits-all. There are many different types of peels, in terms of both concentration and specific peeling agent (i.e. active ingredient) used.
Should you do an at-home chemical peel or see a professional for an in-office peel? Here are the main differences between each option:
Peel Strength & Results
Many at-home and professional chemical peels are based on similar active ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and alpha hydroxyl acid. Each option differs in terms of overall strength or concentration.
At-home peels are less powerful and can only affect the most superficial layers of the skin. These peels are suitable for general skin maintenance or non-severe skin issues. Over-the-counter peels provide minimal results, with many home-based options requiring multiple uses before seeing any effects.
In contrast, professionally administered peels are generally far more powerful, with prescription strength concentrations of peeling agents. This enables these peels to target deeper levels of the dermis and treat moderate to severe wrinkling, sun damage, and pigmentation. In-office peels can provide dramatic results that become apparent immediately or shortly after a single treatment.
Another great benefit of professional peels is that they can be personalized to fit the specific needs of the individual patient. Skin care professionals can adjust formulas (altering their composition or concentration levels) to address specific skin issues. Peels can also be suited to work with differences in skin type and tone, an especially important consideration for individuals with sensitive skin.
While there are many at-home peels on the market, there is no way to customize over-the-counter options. Picking the wrong peel could either limit its effectiveness or irritate your skin. So individuals who do not know what their skin needs (or how they will react to a peel) should opt to see a professional.
Home-based peels are your most convenient option since you can apply them in the comfort of your home anytime you wish. However, a professional peel generally is a relatively quick procedure.
While the cost of professional chemical peels can differ based on many variables, pro-peels are typically more expensive compared their at-home counterparts. However, keep in mind that some at-home options require multiple applications (and thus multiple expenses) to obtain any improvements to the skin.