For years chemical peels have been associated with high-end spas and an expensive price tag most of us can’t afford. With the onset of at-home peels, they aren’t the unattainable luxury that they once were. We all want that natural glow from our youth, and with the right peel, you can target hyperpigmentation on a deeper level to even out dull, congested skin.
If you’re intimidated, don’t be. A chemical peel is simply a solution with a stronger percentage of ingredients that– you guessed it– chemically exfoliate the skin. By removing dead skin cells and breaking up oil-clogged pores, hyperpigmentation fades and clearer skin is revealed. They basically do it all: peels can improve skin texture, reverse sun damage, and prevent future signs of aging. Not all chemical peels are the same, however, and while there’s no right or wrong formula, what works the best for you depends on your skin type and how you tolerate certain ingredients.
Can chemical peels actually treat hyperpigmentation?
Yes! Chemicals peels are not only known for their benefits in treating acne, sun damage, or wrinkles but hyperpigmentation too. However, what peeling agent you use, its concentration, and how often you get a chemical peel will have the biggest impact upon dark spots. You have to make sure you get it right, otherwise, you may compromise your skin without achieving any result. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with all these!
How does it work?
Simply put, when the skin produces more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, it may develop spots or patches that appear darker than normal. Chemical peels are well-known to reduce melasma by causing a controlled burn (hence, the sting feeling) within top layers of skin that kills old cells and allows the new healthy ones to take their place.
Best peeling agents to treat hyperpigmentation
Although many agents can be used for chemical peels, you’ll likely find few convenient for you. You don’t want a harsh agent on sensitive skin, but a mild one won’t help with severe hyperpigmentation. It’s tricky, I know. But things will get easier by the end, I promise! Basically, you have to pick your peeling agent carefully, depending on your skin type. At what concentration actually depends on the agent and your condition severity. However, at-home chemical peels should always be done with milder agents at well-established concentrations.
To stay on the safer side, for at-home chemical peels, we recommend AHAs and BHAs peels. Glycolic acid makes a great AHA peeling agent to treat hyperpigmentation. Because it’s milder than other AHA peels, glycolic acid is considered safe and works great for almost every skin type. Studies found that glycolic acid at concentrations of 30 to 50% is useful, especially in superficial scarring and hyperpigmentation. If your skin doesn’t tolerate glycolic acid, you can go for a milder AHA, like lactic acid. Lactic acid, which is structurally identical to glycolic acid, has a lower pH than glycolic acid, thus it can work effectively at lower concentrations, making it more suitable for sensitive skin.
If you go for BHAs peels, try salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is known to have an easy, rapid, and deep penetration through the skin barriers and is often used as an agent for hyperpigmentation. It’s most recommended for oily skin, thanks to its ability to reduce excess sebum. The 30% salicylic acid is often considered the “gold standard” of chemical peels because it’s both gentle and very effective.
Before chemical peeling
Prepping your skin for a chemical peeling is nothing more than having your skin cleansed and dry when you do the peel. And OFC, avoid the eye and lips areas. Each product comes with its own instructions in terms of how long you can keep it on the skin; some may even act all night or all day long. What you apply on the skin a week prior to the chemical peel it’s tremendously important. Yes, you got that right: chemical peel comes with a few Don’ts before usage. First upfront, stay away from products that contain retinol, vitamin C, AHAs, or BHAs two days before the peeling, even more, if you know your skin is sensitive.
After chemical peeling
Equally important is what products you use after peeling. You’d definitely want to apply soothing, moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, ceramide, or peptide. It will also help if you use a calming or repairing sheet mask the next day to help your skin regenerate faster. At the same time, dodge laser devices, scrubs, waxing, or other skincare products with a high concentration of acids for the next two days. And (not like you don’t know it already) use sunscreen!
Best at-home chemical peels for hyperpigmentation
So which chemical peel should you choose? Below are the best chemical peels for hyperpigmentation of 2021. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel
A cult-favorite and derms-praised that’ll help you get back your flawless skin in no time. OK, besides including AHAs in its formula, it has added BHA to help unclog pores, and TXA, that aids in brightening dark spots and revive dull skin. It includes glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and malic acid, so you may think it’s harsh, but no, it even replenishes moisture with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, amino acids, urea, and botanical oils. Better said, it’s a multitasker that offers multi-benefits, among which cell renewal, youth booster, and high nourishing properties.
Dennis Gross Extra Strength Daily Peel
Dennis Gross Skincare has been around for a long time, and for a good reason. It’s one of the best skincare brands on the market, known for their near spa-grade formulas. The Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel is formulated with AHAs glycolic and lactic acid to gently exfoliate, BHA salicylic acid to break up clogged pores and retinol to penetrate deeply and increase skin cell turnover. The Alpha Beta peel works differently from others by delivering its active ingredients in different steps to maximize the benefits of each. The skin is penetrated with AHAs followed by BHA salicylic acid to initiate exfoliation. For the grand finale, retinol is released to renew skin cells, reversing hyperpigmentation and fighting signs of aging.
Juice Beauty Green Apple Face Peel Exfoliating Mask
Juice Beauty’s exfoliating mask makes one of the best chemical peels for hyperpigmentation. Why? First, it’s formulated with an organic base of botanical juices instead of water. Second, it uses a combination of malic acid from green apples, citric acid from lemons, and tartaric acid from grapes to target hyperpigmentation. Third, with vitamin E and aloe that soothe and calm, it’s great for sensitive skin. Don’t let the fact that it’s made from fruit fool you. The use of fruit extracts in skincare offer powerful chemical exfoliant benefits. It’s also formulated with vitamins A and C to brighten and reduce hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Used once a week for only 10 minutes, this chemical peel works for any skin type.
Lancôme Rénergie Lift Ultra Milk Peel
Get rid of hyperpigmented spots with this milk peel, made with Lipo Hydroxy Acids (slower chemical activity and a gentler exfoliation action) that help decongest pores, remove dead skin cells, and smoothen skin. The bi-phase formula exfoliates delicately, making it a perfect choice if your skin is on the sensitive side. This because while it exfoliates, this gentle peel also nourishes with moisturizing squalane, vitamin E, and linseed extract so that your skin won’t dry out. It’s the perfect step into your ever-expanding skincare routine, right after cleansing and before moisturizing.
Eminence – Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel
Chemical peels can be intimidating, especially for those with sensitive skin. The Eminence Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel not only soothes inflammation and irritation but helps fade hyperpigmentation all at the same time. It’s applied and left on overnight, and with continued use, it evens out skin tone. Formulated with AHAs lactic and mandelic acids, it has two of the most gentle chemical exfoliants in skincare. Chamomile and calendula refresh, soothe, and moisturize the skin. Arnica flower extract reduces the appearance of inflammation that can lead to further hyperpigmentation. For those with sensitive and dry skin who want to start slow, it can be used two to three times a week before moving onto something stronger.
Tata Harper – Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask
If you’re short on time and want a chemical peel that packs a punch, the Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask by Tata Harper will revitalize the skin immediately. Made from natural plant extracts, this chemical peel can be used as needed to restore a healthy glow and brighten your complexion after just one use. Its key ingredient is the BHA salicylic acid that they derive from white willow bark extract. Pomegranate fruit enzymes help slough off dead skin cells and smooth uneven skin texture. Combine all of this together with pink clay to absorb oil, it’s the ultimate chemical peel for those who want to fight hyperpigmentation and tighten large pores.
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel Enzymatic Cream Exfoliator
Twice weekly, apply this peel on your skin for 15 minutes to get it exfoliated and purified skin in a spa-like experience thanks to the exotic scent. With each use, it makes hyperpigmentation fade away for skin that’s radiant and soft. Created with a cocktail of natural papaya and pineapple enzymes, it helps exfoliate and regenerate your skin, while the extracts of niacinamide, bladderwrack, algae, and sunflower condition it. Plus, since it has a non-abrasive cream formula, it’s your go-to if you have sensitive skin.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial AHA + BHA Mask
At $80, Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial may come with a hefty price tag, but it’s well-merited. The name says it all — use it for 20 minutes once a week and turn back time to reveal baby-soft skin. Drunk Elephant’s products are known for their powerful formulas, and the Babyfacial AHA + BHA Mask is no exception. It’s made up of a 25% combination of AHAs glycol, tartaric, lactic and has 2% BHA salicylic acid on top of that. That’s not all– exfoliating ferments from pumpkin and pomegranate add an extra touch of antioxidant benefits.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
For those who aren’t ready to dish out the money for Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial, then The Ordinary AHA + BHA Peeling solution comes in a close second at just under $10. If you haven’t heard of The Ordinary already, you’re missing out. Their products aren’t just known for being effective but cost-friendly. At a slightly higher percentage than the Babyfacial, it has a strong blend of 30% glycolic and lactic acid and 2% salicylic acid to fight just about every skin problem with just one use. Dull skin, fine lines, acne spots, and uneven texture will start to fade after using this chemical peel twice a week for 10 minutes.
Caudalie – Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Peel Mask
Known for their gentle yet effective formulas that work with dry and sensitive skin, Caudalie is a must-try for those who don’t want to jump into anything too strong. Their Brightening Glycolic Peel Mask targets dark spots and sun damage while hydrating the skin overnight. With a texture reminiscent of a cream rather than a peel, it’s gentle enough to be used nightly. Its star ingredient is Viniferine, an extract derived from vine sap that’s just as effective as vitamin C at reducing hyperpigmentation. Papaya extract and glycolic acid give this chemical peel its reputation for being hydrating while softly exfoliating the skin.