Chemical Peels and Sensitive Skin: What Are Your Options?

Whether you have a ruddy complexion, age spots, or just an uneven skin tone, chemical peels are a simple way to give your skin a boost and improve its texture.   

These skin rejuvenation treatments are one of the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedures at the doctor’s office, and can help remove dead skin cells while stimulating collagen production – the fibers that bind skin cells and keep it looking young and healthy. However, the powerful acid used in a chemical peel treatment can be harsh for sensitive skin types.  

Sensitive skin that typically burns and peels easily from the sun can become damaged after a phenol or TCA peel that penetrates deep into the skin’s layers. A milder form of a chemical peel may be the best solution for getting the results you need. Alphahydroxy (AHA) and Beta lift peels are the two mildest forms of chemical peels, and are well-suited for sensitive skin. Both types offer little downtime and do not require anesthesia; lactic acid peels, fruit acid peels, and glycolic acid peels fall under this category, and each type helps remove the outer layer of skin, along with wrinkles and dry patches. These treatments can even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and other skin pigmentation with ease. And, both types of chemical peels are mild enough to reduce the risk of excessive inflammation and irritation.  

Some of the options available at an area medical spa or dermatologist’s office may include:  

Ultra Peels

These aggressive exfoliating treatments are designed for sensitive and sun damaged skin, and are also beneficial for acne sufferers. The ultra peel usually consists of 2-3 layers of acid, and can help remove or reduce pigmentation, discoloration, and blemishes.  

Lactic-Retinol Peels

The combination of lactic acid and retinol isn’t as harsh as some alpha hydroxyl peels, and can help soothe and balance skin as cells turn over. Lactic acid has been used as a chemical peel treatment for hundreds of years, and the addition of retinol makes it a valuable choice for sensitive skin.  

Oxygen Peels

Oxygenated treatments are especially valuable for clearing up acne and reducing the size of pores. Skin that isn’t able to ‘breathe’ needs to be cleansed and exfoliated more often to stimulate healthy cell growth; oxygenated peels can help with this process, and are generally milder than other types of chemical peels.  

Enzyme Peels

Pumpkin and papaya are just two fruit peels that make use of active enzymes to improve the skin’s appearance. These peels can soothe and soften the skin during the cell turn over process, and are especially valuable for dry, sensitive skin types. Enzyme peels are also a good choice for transitioning into regular chemical peel treatments if you’ve never had a treatment before.  

Sensi Peels

These exfoliating peels are designed for extremely sensitive skin, and are well-suited for Asian skin types, as well as aging skin. The peel is a lactic acid and TCA-based treatment that can also help to brighten the skin. This chemical peel treatment is commonly used to calm down inflamed skin and may reduce rosacea.  

From enzyme peels to oxygenated treatments, you’ll find several valuable chemical peels that cater to the needs of sensitive skin. Learn more about chemical peels and skin rejuvenation in our information guide, or find a doctor or medical spa in your area that offers these specialty services.