Professional vs. At-Home Chemical Peels: What’s The Difference?

Written by Nicole Butcher, LA, Licensed Aesthetician on March 20, 2017 5 Comments

pro vs at-home chemical peels

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.


Nicole Butcher, LA

Nicole Butcher is a licensed aesthetician, having received her education at Dermalogica Academy and the International Dermal Institute in New York City. She specializes in laser hair removal, IPL, chemical peels, microneedling, dermaplaning, and eyelash extensions. She is also a certified technician with Coolsculpting, HydrafacialMD, and Ultherapy.

5 Responses to “Professional vs. At-Home Chemical Peels: What’s The Difference?”

  1. Avatar Seena says:

    I can attest to this post, recently I did a peel at home and it wasnt very impressive. Then a couple weeks later I saw my dermatologist (in Cleveland) and did an in-office peel. It was far more effective and powerful. 8 days out and my skin is looking great!!!!

  2. Avatar Paula says:

    I’d like to find out more? I’d love to find out some additional information.

  3. Avatar Celeste says:

    My job required 4 to 5 hours under the sun. I had an uneven skin tone, sun spot and some wrinkles around the eyes. Can I pick Re:Pair that don’t require long downtime. Should I do it during winter and not now???

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Celeste, It does sound like you might be an ideal candidate for Fraxel, however we would encourage you to come in for a consultation to be sure. Fraxel does require a period of downtime where you must limit sun exposure. As such, it might be wise to undergo the procedure during the winter.

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your question!

      –WD Staff

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