Let’s talk about adult acne. Plainly, it sucks. When I was a pimply-faced teenager, I remember counting down the days until I was an adult and I grew out of my blemishes. I may even have circled a date on the calendar when I turned 18 thinking that was the day it would be over. It was not. In university, my acne got worse. Didn’t help that as a varsity athlete I spent 4-6 hours a day sweating my ass off, and usually, with a full face of makeup on. Combine that with all-nighters and the idea that you didn’t need to wash your face before sleeping (ugh), 4 am Taco Bell runs, and Florida humidity, my skin pretty much hated me.
I spent thousands of dollars on products and prescriptions during my 20’s; some worked, some didn’t. Nothing was a long-term solution.
Then, in my late 20’s, I had 2 big breakthroughs:
- I finally acknowledged that I was lactose intolerant and cut dairy out of my diet. My overall health skyrocketed, and surprisingly to me, my skin cleared up. But that’s a story for another time.
- I started using chemical peels.
(I also stopped eating like crap, washing my face before bed, and actually sleeping. That may have helped, too. 😉 )
Why Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels offer a type of exfoliation you can’t get from a physical exfoliant (like a scrub). They help slough off dead skin by increasing your skin turnover, revealing bright and shiny skin underneath. There are very intense peels that take days of recovery time and then there are lunchtime facials or peels that have no downtime or extended recovery. I’m talking about those kinds in this post. Mild to moderate peels for first-time users. The deep peels are some next level stuff — I’m not quite there yet, and the idea that my skin will literally peel off kind of terrifies me.
Mild to moderate chemical peels are great for acne prone skin, sun damaged skin or skin that looks and feels lifeless and dull.
Types of Chemical Peels
The main types of clinical and at-home chemical peels are:
- Glycolic Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
For my skin, I found that lactic acid was the mildest. I started out with that and then eventually moved into glycolic peels for a deeper exfoliation. I have used salicylic acid as a spot treatment, but never as a full peel as it is far too drying for my skin and actually makes me break out more.
Top 5 At-Home Peels
Though I do recommend you go to a clinic or spa for the serious “hardcore” chemical peels, there are some safe and effective at-home options you can test out to see if this type of skin care is for you.
Here are my favourites:
Friendly reminder to please remember I am not a doctor or esthetician and I am only writing about what has worked for me. If you have über sensitive or reactive skin, this solution likely will not be for you. Always make sure you read the labels and follow the instructions when using AHA’s and other acids. Sometimes they only call for you to leave a product on your face for 1-3 minutes… do NOT leave it on for longer than what the process calls for or else you can burn your face. You are using acid, after all. Less is more when starting out.
Have you ever used a chemical peel? Did you love or hate it? Curious to try them? Let me know in the comments!