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How Long Does a Chemical Peel Last? Results and What to Expect

Are you searching for a way to reduce acne scars and blemishes? Need the perfect treatment to even your skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation? Looking to simply improve your skin’s texture and restore that glowing radiance? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a chemical peel is the right skincare treatment for you!

Chemical peels are a medical aesthetic procedure involving a concentrated acid blend solution that’s applied to the skin. The mixture, which also includes other ingredients and antioxidants, literally “peels” off the top layers of skin. As the skin grows back, you’ll notice results such as smoother skin, no more discoloration, and the removal of acne scars and blemishes. 

Like many cosmetic procedures, the results will vary depending on the type of chemical peel and your individual skin. In the comprehensive guide, we explore how long chemical peels will last and what results you can expect to receive. From the expert doctors and medical aestheticians at New Image MD, read on to learn how chemical peels transform your skin. 

The History of Chemical Peels

Did you know that chemical peels are an ancient skincare practice!? Records show the origins of chemical peels dates all the way back to the Egyptians over 3500 years ago. The ancient Egyptians used ingredients like animal oils, milk, salt, and alabaster to improve the condition of their skin. Of course, these early methods were not as sophisticated as the skincare services we can benefit from today. But just know, the practice of using peels is no stranger to the skincare world. 

The beginnings of our modern chemical peels dates back to the 19th century, when dermatologists Ferdinand Von Hebra and Paul Gerson Unna treated patients with a chemical peel mixture. Some of the ingredients in these early modern peels included resorcinol, Salicylic acid, and phenol. Amazingly, these can be found in the chemical peels used today. 

Fast forward to the last twenty-five years, and you’ll find rapid advancements in chemical peels. Ten or twenty years ago, chemical peels had very high-concentrations of single-ingredient acids. These were then applied to the skin, leaving some patients to experience unwanted side effects like a deep chemical burn that required weeks of recovery.  

Fortunately, the chemical peels available now have evolved to contain lower concentrated acids that have improved safety and made the experience more comfortable. You’ll also find that many contain other ingredients that offer additional benefits, such as an improvement in collagen production. 

How Long Chemical Peels Last

One of the most common questions regarding chemical peels relates to how long they last. To determine how long your results may last, you must first determine the “depth” you’ll choose for your peel. So, what exactly do we mean by depth?

The depth of a chemical peel refers to how deep the chemical peel will penetrate the skin. There are three main types of peels: light, medium, and deep. As you can expect, the name implies just how much they’ll penetrate the layers of the skin. How long your chemical peel results will last depends on which type you choose for your skin. 

Light chemical peel 

A light chemical peel (also known as superficial) works by removing the outer layer of skin. These types of peels treat fine wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone and dryness. The results of this type of peel should last for at least one to two months. 

The ZO Stimulator Peel is a popular choice for a light peel. This “lunchtime peel” offers a combination of glycolic, lactic, and azelaic acid that exfoliates the outer layer of skin to jump-start your skin's rejuvenation appearance. There is no downtime required, making this a good choice if you’re a first-time user.  

Medium chemical peel 

A medium chemical peel removes skin cells from the top layer and from portions of the middle layer of skin. This treatment does more than a light peel, and as it helps treat acne scars, restore uneven skin tone, and reduce the appearance of more prominent wrinkles.  

A great choice for a medium chemical peel is The Perfect Derma™ Peel. This works wonders for all skin types & ethnicities. It’s important to know that the procedure requires no skin preparation, just simply schedule your appointment and the doctor and aestheticians will take care of the rest!

With The Perfect Derma™ Peel, you can expect to see results after about 3 days of visible peeling. Because the peel contains the antioxidant Glutathione, you should also see your skin brighten with enhancements to your natural glow. We recommend doing a series of 3 peels about 30 days apart for jaw-dropping improvement.

Deep chemical peel

A deep chemical peel is the strongest type of chemical peel that removes skin cells from the lower dermal layer. A deep chemical peel might be chosen to treat deep facial wrinkles, sun-damaged skin, certain scars, and potentially even pre-cancerous growths. Most deep peels use the chemical phenol for maximum penetration. 

Deep chemical peels are not for everyone, as they come with more risks than light and medium peels. These will often require pretreatment up to eight weeks before. This is done to help your recovery after the procedure. 

To best determine which chemical peel is right for you and your skincare goals, you should consult with an experienced medical physician. They will evaluate your skin and devise a treatment plan that works best for you.

Woman being brushed with skincare serum.

What To Expect During Treatment

If you’re considering a chemical peel or have an upcoming appointment, here is what you can expect during your treatment. Remember, there is no reason to be nervous! Follow these tips so you’ll be prepared and get ready for amazing skin.

Before the Treatment

Prior to your chemical peel, you'll have a consultation with a medical aesthetics professional to determine the best type of peel for your skin type. With the professional, you’ll discuss things like your skincare type, current routine, and the results you would like to achieve. 

*Make sure you tell your provider what current medications you’re taking to avoid any interactions with the chemical peel. 

You'll be advised on what to avoid before your treatment, including: certain skincare products, like retinoids and exfoliants, arriving makeup free, and staying out of the sun. It's essential for you to keep your skin hydrated in the time leading up to your treatment.

During the Treatment

On the day of your chemical peel, your skin will be thoroughly cleansed to remove any oils and impurities. Here's a breakdown of what to expect during each type of peel:

Superficial Peel. A mild acid, like glycolic acid, is applied to the skin and left on for a few minutes before being neutralized and washed off. You might feel a slight tingling sensation during the process.

Medium Peel. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and lactic acid are commonly used for this type of peel. You'll likely feel a more intense stinging or burning sensation, which can be managed with a cool compress or a handheld fan. The acid is left on the skin for a specified time before being neutralized.

Deep Peel. Phenol is typically used for this type of peel. The procedure is more intense and may require sedation. You'll feel a significant burning sensation, and the treatment area may be numbed beforehand. This type of peel requires a longer recovery time and is performed less frequently.

After the Treatment

Post-peel care is crucial for the best results, helping to prevent pain and any complications. Here’s some vital aftercare steps you should take after your treatment. By following these, you can get the most from your chemical peel. 

Immediate Aftercare 

Your skin will be red and sensitive, similar to a sunburn. Light peels usually result in mild redness and flaking, while medium and deep peels can cause swelling, crusting, and more significant peeling. Your skincare professional may apply a soothing ointment and provide specific aftercare instructions.

Recovery Period 

Light peels have the shortest recovery time, typically a few days. Medium-depth peels require about one to two weeks, while deep peels can take several weeks to months for full recovery. During this time, it’s essential to keep the skin moisturized and avoid picking at any peeling skin.

Pro Tip: Skip the exercise until your skin is finished peeling. 

It’s best to avoid washing your face for 24 hours after peeling. Some trusted face washes to use that keep your skin hydrated include those from CetaphilⓇ, CeraVeⓇ, AveenoⓇ or VanicreamⓇ. Your aesthetician will recommend the best products for your specific needs. 

Sun Protection 

Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun after a chemical peel. It’s vital to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible. 


You may need to schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your skin’s healing and progress. Your skincare professional might recommend specific products to enhance the results and maintain the health of your skin.

Remember, always follow the advice of your skincare professional for a safe and effective experience.

The inviting hallway of New Image MD.

Schedule Your Chemical Peel with New Image MD

Transform your appearance with a chemical peel from New Image MD. Conveniently located in Chapel Hill, we offer safe, affordable, and natural-looking treatments to bring out the best look for you. For your chemical peel, Dr. Jennifer King and her team offer a personalized and top-rated experience you won’t find anywhere else in the Triangle. Schedule an appointment today by filling out our booking form or call (919) 240-7019

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