Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Best Sensitive Skin Peel

When it comes to your skin, we know you want nothing but the best. That’s why our experts have put together this guide to the best peels for sensitive skin: our goal is to help you make informed decisions about every product you use, from foundation to face cream.

Our list of the 10 best peels for sensitive skin is comprised of peels that are at once gentle on even the most sensitive skin and powerful enough to address those specific skin issues that concern all of us: acne, scarring, wrinkles, blackheads, and more.

And because we know you want the whole story—not just a list of products with no context or use—we’ve also included a buying guide so you can decide which peel would work best for you. We’ve covered peel procedures and types as well as what ingredients to look for in your peels and why they’re important.

Right here on cosmeticsurgerytips, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on lactic acid peel for sensitive skin, skin peeling treatment, best at home chemical peel for hyperpigmentation, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

Best Sensitive Skin Peel

As someone with extra-sensitive skin, the sheer thought of a chemical peel evokes a nightmarish image of a red, painful complexion—which isn’t any fun at all. But if done correctly, this type of treatment isn’t something you have to be afraid of: as long as you’ve got the right regimen in place, chemical peels for sensitive skin can leave you looking radiant instead of raw.

At their simplest, “chemical peels resurface the color, texture, and appearance of the skin for an improvement in hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and overall glow,” says Lara Devgan, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Los Angeles. They’re designed with potent exfoliating ingredients that gently remove the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin for a smoothing, brightening effect.

To ease any reservations you have about chemical peels for sensitive skin, we’ve tapped three dermatologists to break down exactly how those of us prone to irritation should approach integrating chemical peels into our routines.

Benefits of chemical peels

According to dermatologists, chemical peels are most effective in removing the more challenging skin concerns that appear as our skin matures. “Chemical peels are often used in the treatment of acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of skin aging, such as sunspots,” says Rina Allawh, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.

Because of their extra powerful ingredients, they’re able to remove the dead or dull skin from the top layer of our face and reveal a more even skin tone. They also help to jump-start cellular renewal, bringing healthy, new skin cells to the surface of the skin to replace the dead, dull ones that you’re melting away. Especially as we age and our skin matures, it can become extra challenging to get rid of discoloration or scarring, so that’s why dermatologists turn to potent acids to treat tougher-to-solve skin concerns.

What to look for in a chemical peel for sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, it’s normal to feel intimidated by chemical peels. While some of the stronger options on the market can cause irritation, there are chemical peels specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Board-certified dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, advises using chemical peels with lactic acid, which is known to be one of the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acids on the market. Like all AHAs, lactic acid helps to break the “glue” that holds dead skin cells to the surface of your skin, but because the molecules are small, they don’t penetrate the skin as deeply as harsher acids, like glycolic. “Lactic acid helps speed up cell renewal, helping lessen visible acne scars, and glycolic acid has amazing anti-aging benefits,” board-certified dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, previously told W+G.

According to Dr. Allawh, patients with sensitive skin should avoid botanical ingredients in chemical peels. “I have found that some chemical peels may even contain various botanical ingredients and may be labeled as ‘natural,’” she says. “Certain botanical ingredients may be irritating and may contain a natural fragrance that may trigger certain skin allergic reactions.”

At-home vs. in-office chemical peels

If you’re looking to try out a chemical peel, there are two types to choose from. The first, in-office, means going into your dermatologist’s office and receiving treatment. These can be pricier but will be formulated based on your specific skin-care needs, and a derm will be able to help you choose a peel that best works for your sensitive skin.

On the other hand, there are a wide variety of at-home chemical peels that gently address hyperpigmentation, acne, and dullness. They tend to be less potent to prevent irritation (certain acid strengths can old be used at the hands of a professional) and work best if used consistently.

“The difference between at-home and in-office peels is dependent on the ingredients used and the potency (strength) of the ingredient,” says Dr. Allawh. “In-office chemical peels may contain TCA or glycolic acid, but given the higher strength of the ingredients, certain in-office peels may require neutralization afterward to prevent skin irritation.”

If you’re not sure which route to go, at-home chemical peels are a great place to start because you’ll be able to see how your skin reacts to the potent ingredients, and they’re gentler on the skin. “At-home chemical peels will be much gentler than an in-office peel,” Dr. Peredo says, “At-home chemical peels can be in the form of a disposable pad, an overnight serum, or a face mask. At-home chemical peels will only affect the most outer layer skin.”

How to treat your skin to an at-home chemical peel for sensitive skin

Before applying the chemical peel to your face, it’s crucial to prepare your skin. “Prep your face by cleansing your face with a gentle, hydrating cleanser.” Dr. Allawah says, “I recommend the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser because it’s rich in hydrating ingredients such as ceramides.”

After you’ve applied the peel, be sure to give your skin extra hydration to prevent irritation and redness. Dr. Devgan recommends using “soothing emollient moisturizer,” such as SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture ($63) and EltaMD Moisturizer ($18), to calm the skin’s barrier and protect it from irritants and environmental factors.

Lastly, apply sunscreen. “Your face will be more sensitive to the sun afterward,” Dr. Peredo explains. It will be more susceptible to sunburn after a chemical peel, which can add to existing hyperpigmentation and create fine lines and wrinkles.

The best chemical peels for sensitive skin, according to dermatologists

Chemical Peel at Home: Try These 10 Easy, Effective, and Derm-Recommended  Home Peels | SELF

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Exfoliating Peeling Solution
With its powerhouse solution of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid, this chemical peel from The Ordinary is great for sensitive, acne-prone skin. “This product is helpful for anti-aging, unclogging pores, and uneven complexion,” says Dr. Allawh. “I recommend leaving this product on for 5-10 minutes and then gently rinsing it off with a gentle cleanser followed by a moisturizer.”

Purlisse Watermelon Energizing 2 Minute Polishing Peel
The Watermelon Polishing Peel from Purlisse is free of parabens, minerals, and synthetic coloring, which derms say make it gentle enough for sensitive skin. “It contains glycolic acid, aloe, and Lactic acid which collectively help exfoliate, as well as Vitamins A, B, and C and other antioxidants to help improve the texture of the skin and protect the skin barrier from external stressors,” says Dr. Allawh.

Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel
This chemical peel has the perfect balance of antioxidants and AHAs to provide a gentle exfoliation that won’t irritate sensitive skin. It works on the skin’s outer layer to remove dead skin cells, leaving your complexion brighter.

Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel
According to Dr. Peredo, the multi-acid peel from Murad has powerful ingredients that deeply exfoliate the skin, but is gentle enough to use on easily-irritated skin. “It is formulated with lactic, glycolic, and malic acids to remove dead skin cells,” she explains, adding that these acids speed up cell turnover to keep the skin feeling plump.

Dr. Lara Devgan 10-Day Retinoid Micropeel
According to Dr. Devgan, this peel combines all her go-to exfoliants. With ingredients like hydration-boosting hyaluronic acid, cell-turnover stimulating retinol and bakuchiol (a natural ingredient that works similarly to retinol, but with less irritation), and a brightening vitamin CBE/ferulic acid complex, it was designed “to achieve a more focused micropeel in 10 days,” she says.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Ultra Gentle Daily Peel for Sensitive Skin
With a combination of AHAs and BHAs, this beauty editor-beloved peel from Dr. Dennis Gross has just the right amount of exfoliation. Its 2-step formula allows the skin to take in all of the exfoliating ingredients and then neutralizes the effects to prevent irritation, making it our go-to for at-home chemical peels. While the original formula is generally safe to use on all skin types, the brand recently released a sensitive-skin friendly version that offers the same effects with an even gentler delivery system.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial™ AHA + BHA Mask
This peel from Drunk Elephant has a 25 percent concentration of AHAs (glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids) and a 2 percent concentration of BHAs (salicylic acid), that work together to remove dead skin cells from the outermost layer of the skin and penetrate below the skin’s surface to unclog pores. Because of its potent ingredients, this mask should only be used one time a week to prevent irritation.

Lactic Acid Peel For Sensitive Skin

A lactic acid chemical peel is a technique that uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the skin by removing its damaged upper most layers. It promotes the growth of a new layer of skin that is smoother and younger-looking. Lactic acid, a type of alpha hydroxy acid, is derived from sour milk and is used for the mildest, most gentle of chemical peels. It contains keratolytic AHA that smoothens skin and improves texture and is less irritating and drying, delivering smoother, softer and younger-looking skin while it helps diminish fine lines, acne, and hyperpigmentation (brown spots).

Active Ingredients:

  • Lactic Acid – keratolytic AHA that smoothes skin and improves texture and is less irritating and drying
  • Gluconic Acid – gentle exfoliant that is excellent on sensitive skins
  • Blueberry Fruit Puree – rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract – antioxidant that helps strengthen capillaries and has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Morus Alba Root Extract (mulberry) – antioxidant and skin brightening properties

How Do Lactic Acid Peels Work?

Lactic acid functions as an exfoliant on the skin. Its acid helps dissolve the glue-like substance that binds the outermost surface skin cells together, so that old skin cells are sloughed off to reveal fresher skin cells underneath.

What Are The Benefits?

A lactic acid peel does not come with the skin irritation or recovery time of deeper chemical peels, and it is therefore a good choice for people with sensitive skin or who have rosacea. It is also free of risks or complications, making it a good choice for those new to chemical peels.

Lactic Acid Peel Results:

Because a lactic acid peel is so gentle, results are not as intense as with other chemical peels. A series of up to eight sessions may be required to achieve full results, with “maintenance” lactic peel treatments thereafter.

What Can A Lactic Acid Peel Treat?

  • Aging
  • Acne grades I & II
  • Sun damaged skin
  • Hyperpigmentation

What lactic acid peels can NOT do:

  • Remove loose or sagging skin
  • Improve deep scars
  • Change pore size

How do you know which chemical skin peel is right for you? Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid are both are proven to be effective and safe for a wide array of skin concerns, unlike many of the latest “miracle” skincare ingredients on the market (snail slime cream, anyone?).

So what’s the difference between the two? When deciding whether lactic acid vs glycolic acid is right for you, a lot depends on your skin sensitivity, oiliness, and problems you’re attempting to correct.

Below are some helpful tips to help you decide:

If You Want to Lighten Dark Spots

Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid both work well to fade excess pigment in skin, and will slowly fade dark spots and even out skin tone if you have patchy skin, scars, freckles, sun spots, or melasma.

Lactic Acid is generally less irritating, so if you sunburn easily, or have been known to breakout with new perfumes or soaps, Lactic acid should be your first choice. If your skin is not particularly sensitive, you could use either Glycolic or Lactic (or both) and see what works for you. For best results, use a daily Vitamin C Serum for more lightening power and sunscreen to prevent sun damage.

Note: Dark Spots and scars are deeper in the skin than acne or fine lines, and take the longest to see improvement. You should aim to use whichever peeling agent as often as allowed according to the instructions, and it can take 6-8 weeks to see real improvement.

If You Have Keratosis Pilaris (KP)

Keratosis Pilaris, those little ‘chicken skin’ rough patches usually found on the back of arms and legs, are very common (around 50% of the population has it), and can be so annoying when it’s time to wear short sleeves! Your best bet here would be a Lactic Acid based product to dissolve the little keratin plugs which are causing the bumps.

The good news is that you should feel softer skin after one treatment, with continued improvement and potentially even full clearing with regular use. Unfortunately, you can’t be ‘cured’ of Keratosis Pilaris, so if you stop the routine, the bumps come back. The key is finding a simple routine that you can stick to. For best results, we recommend a regular peel with Lactic Acid 10% Gel Peel (once a week), along with daily scrubbing with a loofah, followed by a Lactic Acid cream (like AmLactin) to give you baby soft skin!

If You Have Acne or Acne Scars

If you’ve ever suffered from acne, then you know sometimes it can take more than one product or ingredient to get totally clear skin. That is because there are often multiple causes for acne. You might have a few clogged pores, but then also get hormonal breakouts around your period, or acne rosacea on your cheeks.

Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid, when used in combination, are a very effective preventative treatment for acne. Glycolic acid clears away dead skin cells, so they don’t hang around to clog pores and cause a breakout. Studies also show Glycolic acid prevents skin from over-producing oil, and helps to fade old acne marks and scars. Salicylic acid works to reduce redness and inflammation, and kill acne bacteria.

To fight acne, we recommend: a daily treatment with our Salicylic Acid 2% Daily Peel, and with a once or twice a week use of a stronger Glycolic Acid-based peel treatment.

If You Have Dry Skin

Have you ever finished putting on lotion or makeup, to only see flakes of dry skin everywhere? Cold dry climates (and going from dry cold air outside to super-heated dry air inside) can do a number on skin, and make it hard to stay hydrated. Piling creams on top of creams still might not be enough, especially if not done in the right way.

First, you need to exfoliate the outer layers, so your moisturizer can get to the living skin cells, to help the hold onto precious moisture. Your best bet in this case would be using a Lactic Acid peel, 1-2 times per week. Lactic acid is less irritating and drying then Glycolic Acid, and actually helps skin retain moisture better.  The follow with a water-based moisturizer, and then finally a few drops of oil on top, to seal the moisture to your skin, so it doesn’t evaporate.

If You’re Starting to Notice Fine Lines / Wrinkles

Either of these will be a good choice to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. That is because both Glycolic and Lactic Acid stimulate skin’s natural production of collagen, the substance which gives your skin it’s natural bounce. Regular use should “plump up” fine lines and wrinkles from the inside, which will look more natural and is less invasive than using botox or other injectibles.

So if you have sensitive skin, Lactic Acid is probably your best bet, but if not, you either is a good choice – or use both!

Lastly, a summary to help you decide which is the best option for your skin:

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lactic new look clear

Lactic Acid Peels

  • A less-irritating AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid)
  • Good for sensitive skin types since it’s less likely to burn/tingle
  • Excellent skin lightening treatment, when followed with a Vitamin C treatment.
  • Good for dry skin and Keratosis Pilaris

Glycolic Acid Peels

  • Very effective exfoliator, bore likely to cause slight skin irritation such as redness and slight burning/tingling sensation.
  • Improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting your skin’s natural collagen production
  • Good for fading dark spots, skin lightening / brightening
  • Clears pores to prevent acne breakouts and fade old acne scars

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