How Chemical Face Peel for Dry Skin Works + Which Is the Best

By Emily M.| Last updated on August 2, 2023

Chemical peels are versatile treatments, but can they help alleviate skin dryness? Here’s how face peel for dry skin works – and which acid is the best!

face peel for dry skin

Image source: Freepik

Dry skin is most often described as dull, flaky, and lifeless. So using something that will literally peel off that dead skin cell layer sounds like a logical solution, no? Well, that’s exactly how a chemical peel for dry skin works!

In this guide, we’ll explain how this treatment helps with treating dry skin, as well as which type of chemical peel is the most effective when it comes to a dry, dull complexion. Let’s begin!

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How Can Chemical Peel for Dry Skin Help?

Dry skin occurs when the skin’s natural moisture barrier is compromised, leading to reduced hydration and a dull complexion, often accompanied by flakiness, tightness, and increased sensitivity.

Factors like climate, genetics, age, and skincare habits all contribute to this, but it’s mostly the result of slowed down skin cell turnover process, which is why skin dryness is often associated with more mature skin.

Woman peeling after chemical face peel for dry skinImage source: Instagram @tracyhudsonskincare

Skin cell turnover is a natural process in which dry and hardened surface skin cells are shed and replaced by new ones. But due to the sheer volume of cells, some of the dulling skin cells aren’t effectively shed.

So chemical peels are used to help exfoliate the skin, removing the damaged outer layers and revealing a new, smoother layer underneath.

This treatment is fully customizable and depending on the type and concentration of the peel, it can range from mild to deep exfoliation, meaning you can remove just the outermost skin layer or a couple of them, based on your skin’s needs.

So chemical peels are an excellent option for those with dry skin because they promote skin exfoliation while simultaneously offering numerous other skin benefits like:

  • Stimulating collagen production which results in a more elastic, plumper, and more rejuvenated complexion.
  • Helps your skin retain moisture by increasing its absorbency. This also makes your skincare products more effective.
  • Improving texture and tone to minimize the signs of aging effectively, especially since fine lines tend to be more visible on dry skin.

You can find out more about the whole process here.

@getglowbar In need of a light chemical peel? Link in bio to book & experience ✨ #lightchemicalpeel #chemicalpeelfacial #facialtreatments @shinalpatel_ ♬ original sound - theetriccstallion

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin

We have to note something – not all dry skin is actually dry. In fact, most often than not what we consider to be dry skin is just dehydration.

By using products that target dry skin types, while having, for example, dehydrated oily skin, you actually might be causing more problems like acne or congestion.

Furthermore, if this is the case, dead skin cells will trap all these oils beneath the surface, allowing bacteria to feed off it which will undoubtedly result in a breakout.

A chemical peel can help that too – it will remove all dead skin, gunk and debris, making your new skin layer that lies beneath a clean slate you can take proper care of.

Here’s how to tell whether your skin is actually dry or just temporarily dehydrated:

Dry Skin

Dry skin is primarily a skin type and is often determined by genetics. People with dry skin tend to have fewer oil-producing glands, resulting in a reduced ability to retain moisture and maintain the skin’s natural barrier.

This lack of natural oils makes the skin more prone to dryness, flakiness, and rough texture.

Dehydrated Skin

Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition and occurs when the skin lacks water.

It is often influenced by external factors and lifestyle choices rather than being determined by genetics. Even people with oily or normal skin types can experience dehydration.

Dry Skin Dehydrated Skin
  • Overall lack of oil or sebum on the skin’s surface.
  • Tightness or discomfort, especially after cleansing.
  • Noticeable fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Rough and dull texture.
  • Often more sensitive to environmental factors and certain skincare products.
  • Skin feels tight and dry, but it may produce excess oil in some areas.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles may be more pronounced due to lack of hydration.
  • Skin may appear crepey or show signs of crinkling.
  • Dull and lackluster complexion.
  • Increased sensitivity and irritation.
  • What Is the Best Chemical Peel for Dry Skin?

    There are several types of chemical peeling agents, but mostly they’re categorized by being either water-soluble or oil-soluble.

    When it comes to treating dry skin, water-soluble AHA peels are the best option because they have humectant properties – they’re great for adding hydration and preventing it from drying out.

    You can learn more about AHA peels here.

    Here are the most popular AHAs as some of the best peel for dry skin:

    Glycolic Acid Peel – Best Chemical Peel for Dry Skin Overall

    Glycolic acid is a highly effective AHA derived from sugarcane, known for its ability to penetrate the skin deeply. It is excellent for addressing various skin concerns, including dryness, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

    Plus it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that aid in skin rejuvenation.

    Lactic Acid Peel – Best Brightening Peel for Dry Skin

    Lactic acid is the gentlest chemical peel, derived from milk. It’s an alpha hydroxy acid known for its skin-brightening properties.

    For those with dry skin, lactic acid peels are a great option for achieving a brighter and more even skin tone while maintaining proper hydration levels.

    Mandelic Acid Peel – Best Gentle Peel for Dry Skin

    Mandelic acid, another AHA, is derived from bitter almonds and has larger molecules than most AHAs – especially when compared to glycolic acid.

    This characteristic makes it a milder option, perfect for dry and sensitive skin as it means the acid won’t penetrate as deep and will not dry out or irritate the skin.

    Mandelic acid face peel for dry skinImage source: Instagram @vipeel

    Best at Home Chemical Peel for Dry Skin

    At-home face peel for dry skin offers a convenient, cost-effective, and customizable solution to improve skin texture, hydration, and overall complexion.

    Many at-home chemical peels are specifically formulated to be gentle on the skin, making them suitable for dry and even sensitive skin types. They often contain lower concentrations of active ingredients to avoid excessive irritation.

    Obviously, at-home products won’t get you the same result, but they can be a great way to step up your exfoliation game and allow your skincare products to sink in better.

    Here are the best at-home chemical peel for dry skin divided into categories of which peeling is good for flaky, sensitive, and beginner’s skin:

    Overall Best Chemical Peel for Dry Flaky Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel

    This product is made to be used in two steps: first, you use the peel pad, which has 7 acids that serve to exfoliate and smoothen your skin.

    Then you follow it up with the second pad that acts as a neutralizer, which contains 12 antioxidants and soothing ingredients.

    These ingredients work together to smoothen your skin texture, fight blemishes and actively protect your skin against free radicals.

    • Good for all skin types, including dry skin
    • Paraben-free

    • May be too aggressive for skin not used to chemical peels

    Best Chemical Peel for Dry Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

    This product is made with pre-portioned pads that are soaked in just the right amount of glycolic and lactic acids – which is very helpful, especially if you’re just a beginner when it comes to using chemical peels at home.

    Plus, the pads are gentle and safe enough to be used daily, so it’s a really great product to try if you’re cautious about peels.

    • Safe, even for sensitive skin
    • Has both glycolic and lactic acid 

    • Some found it too harsh for very sensitive skin

    Best Universal Peel for Dry Skin: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

    If you aren’t so keen on using acid pads or masks on your face, you can test the waters with something a bit less invasive, like The Ordinary’s 7% Glycolic Acid Toner.

    This product is a leave-on exfoliant that helps reduce discoloration and brighten up your skin. It can be used anywhere on the body – not only on the face!

    • Easy to use
    • Formulated to reduce irritation
    • No added fragrance or essential oils

    • Has strong smell
    • Some found it too harsh for sensitive skin

    Best Dry Skin Chemical Peel for Beginners: The Ordinary Lactic Acid Peel

    Lactic acid peel serums by The Ordinary come as a 5 % and 10% strength solution, with higher percentage obviously meaning deeper exfoliation. If you’re a beginner, 5% is more suitable, especially for your first chemical peel for dry sensitive skin.

    But both products are formulated to reduce signs of inflammation and skin sensitivity, as well as a non-irritating and safe at-home option.

    • Mild and beginner friendly
    • Free of alcohol and silicones

    • Too mild for people who already use chemical peels

    After Doing Your At-Home Face Peel for Dry Skin

    After using chemical peel for dry flaky skin, you need to make sure you’re doing everything that’ll support your skin and further improve your skin hydration levels.

    Here are a couple of things you should do post at home treatment:

    • Hydrate your skin generously with a gentle and nourishing moisturizer to restore its moisture balance. Use hypoallergenic products with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and natural oils to lock in hydration and promote healing.
    • Refrain from using harsh skincare products, especially retinoids as they can cause irritation or sensitivity when the skin is recovering.
    • Shower with warm water instead of hot, as hot water is more drying to the skin.
    • Avoid sun exposure since your skin is more vulnerable to sun damage after a peel. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

    Here’s a couple of aftercare options:

    Alternative Treatments for Dry Skin

    If you feel like chemical peels are not right for you, there are other alternative treatments you can try that’ll help alleviate some of the same concerns.

    There are mechanical exfoliating treatments like dermaplaning and hydrodermabrasion.


    Dermaplaning is done by scraping off the outermost layer of your skin, which helps remove up to two weeks’ worth of dead skin cells, dirt, and debris.

    It makes your skin more absorbent for better effectiveness of your skincare products, as well as make your makeup sit flawlessly on top.

    You can learn more about this treatment here.


    Hydrodermabrasion, which is a gentler spin-off of microdermabrasion, is done with a special handheld tool that simultaneously scrapes the skin and sucks up everything that was just exfoliated.

    On top of that, it also helps hydrate your skin by using a high-pressure sprayer which ejects hydrating solutions and infuses them deep into the pores.

    Learn more about hydrodermabrasion here.

    Chemical Face Peel for Dry Skin – Main Takeaways

    Chemical peels are great treatments for many skin issues. They can be fully customized to target issues you’d like to resolve by carefully mixing different types of acids – each one with its own set of skin benefits – in various concentrations.

    With the right chemical face peel, you can revitalize and rejuvenate your complexion, revealing a smoother and more youthful appearance.

    Chemical peel treatments are great for dry skin since they help promote skin cell turnover, increase hydration, and stimulate collagen production.



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