Jessner Peel: The Ultimate Guide
Jessner peel, as a treatment on its own, has many uses. However, what makes it unique is its ability to be used in combination with other treatments. Let’s see why.
Jessner peel can be used for many things – from treating acne to reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and scars.
But all chemical peels can leave you with smoother, more even-toned skin. What makes Jessner peel different from other chemical peels is that it’s actually a carefully crafted formulation of several acids, each of which has its own specific properties.
Let’s explain what Jessner’s solution is made out of and what benefits it can provide.
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What Is the Jessner Peel?
Jessner peel is a combination of a few different acids, namely lactic acid and salicylic acid, with resorcinol in a 95 percent ethanol solution. But, there are other modified versions as well that swap out resorcinol for another ingredient.
This peel is usually used as a medium-deep chemical peel, but the intensity can be adjusted to a lighter or deeper treatment. Medium-deep peels penetrate until the dermis, the upper portion of the middle layer, which means this treatment does require some healing time.
The Jessner solution is often combined with other peels to improve their efficiency in treating scars and pigmentation. Together they work on removing the top skin layer and revealing smoother, more even-toned skin underneath.
Image source: Freepik
Jessner Peel Benefits
Due to its numerous skin benefits, the Jessner peel is still among the most popular treatments.
Among the many advantages, here’s a list of the most important Jessner peel benefits:
- Treating skin discoloration – especially melasma
- Evening out skin tone and reversing sun damage
- Treating both acne and acne scars
- Helps regulate sebum production
- Helps reduce the appearance of enlarged pores and overly-textured skin
- Efficient in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- Helps enhance the complexion, and makes it more radiant
How Strong Is a Jessner Peel?
The depth of the peel will depend on how many layers of the solution get applied. Also, the number of layers may depend on the brand or modification. The peel rarely penetrates deeper than expected, which is one benefits of Jessner’s approach.
Whether there was skin preparation, the thickness of the corneum and the skin’s sensitivity all affect how well the solution penetrates the skin. There are 3 intensities that can be achieved with Jessner’s peel:
Light Jessner Chemical Peel
Light chemical peels affect only the top skin layer, so they aren’t as harsh and don’t require nearly any downtime. When it comes to Jessner chemical peel, 1-3 coats are considered a superficial peel and it only causes some mild flaking for a couple of days, if at all.
Medium Jessner Chemical Peel
Medium, or level 2 peel, is applied in 4-10 coats and is left on for longer. Since the solution penetrates deeper, it can result in some slight burning or stinging sensation. But that usually doesn’t last long.
Medium-strength peel also evokes some redness and more (moderate) flaking of the skin.
Deep Jessner Chemical Peel
More than 10 coats of Jessner’s solution is considered a deep chemical peel treatment. A peel this strong should only be done by medical professionals.
Upon this kind of treatment, there is prominent redness and moderate stinging. The exfoliation process continues for up to 10 days, during which the skin will be actually peeling more than just flaking off.
Jessner Peel Ingredients
The impacts of each ingredient of Jessner’s solution are quite distinct. The point was to increase the mixture’s overall keratolytic effects (ability to break down the skin cells holding the skin layers together) while reducing the concentrations of any one ingredient.
Jessner peel is actually a solution composed of a few different types of acids. 3 main ingredients of Jessner’s solution are:
- Lactic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
- 95% ethanol
The lactic acid is derived from milk and is a type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). It helps brighten the complexion and leaves it looking smoother.
Salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) and it is most well-known for its ability to remove excess oil and aid in treating acne.
Resorcinol is chemically comparable to phenol, also known as carbolic acid, however, it functions more similarly to salicylic acid. Resorcinol works as a potent antibacterial astringent and aids in controlling sebum production on the skin.
While this composition is a traditional formula of Jessner’s peeling, there are several modifications to this solution, especially the substitution of resorcinol for citric acid.
Modified Jessner Peel
Due to some safety concerns about resorcinol, there are also Jessner’s peel solutions prepared without it.
So, modified Jessner peel consists of:
- 14% lactic acid
- 14% salicylic acid
- 8% citric acid.
Citric Acid is an AHA that is naturally found in citrus fruits like lemons and limes. In skincare citric acid is used for its antioxidant, and anti-aging properties, helping reverse visible signs of photodamage.
Modified Jessner peel is a medium-depth peel, perfect for sensitive, wrinkly, and dull skin as it is designed to enhance the general texture of the skin, fight hyperpigmentation, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, remove blackheads, and dry out active acne.
This formula does have certain drawbacks though. Unlike the original formulation, the modified Jessner peel solution is not recommended for darker skin tones.
Jessner TCA Peel
When it comes to a combination like Jessner TCA peel, the main benefit is making them more efficient while avoiding as many complications as possible.
A TCA (trichloroacetic acid) peel is usually used as a medium peel at around 30-35% concentration. But generally speaking, Jessner’s solution is much safer than a TCA peel.
Jessner’s solution is used prior to the application of a TCA peel, so that the epidermis is partially removed, allowing the TCA to penetrate the skin more deeply. This allows for the use of lower TCA concentrations for the same depth of the peel, reducing problems like scarring.
Jessner and TCA peel together help amplify each other’s effects and have shown to be very effective in treating a wide variety of skin conditions 1 – most often, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and blotchiness.
What Is a Jessner Peel Good For?
Jessner peel is a safe and effective solution to a number of skin concerns. Over the years, it’s proven to be successful in treating:
Jessner Peel for Acne
All ingredients in Jessner’s solution have beneficial properties when it comes to fighting acne.
Resorcinol helps reduce inflammation and kill acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid dissolves sebum and clears out pores to enable your skin to breathe.
Meanwhile, lactic acid helps rehydrate the skin and lightens the discoloration leftover from the inflammation, evening out skin tone and texture.
Jessner Peel for Acne Scars
Jessner’s peels penetrate dermal layers to debride and remove scar tissue. Using Jessner and TCA peel together as a medium-depth peel has shown to be successful in treating mild acne scarring 2.
TCA in higher concentrations that are needed to reach the affected skin layer can be too strong to be used over bigger scarred areas. Jessner peel ensures the treatment is safer while allowing TCA to do its magic.
Image source: Instagram @the.estheticqueen
Jessner Peel for Hyperpigmentation
Jessner peel is one of the go-to treatments when it comes to hyperpigmentation. By penetrating the pores, Jessner peel helps remove collections of hyperpigmented cells, which results in a more even skin tone.
You can learn more about how chemical peels help fight hyperpigmentation here.
Jessner Peel for Melasma
Lactic acid by itself is very efficient in removing any kind of discoloration, so combining it with other acids as well only heightens the efficiency 3. Because of this, Jessner peel can also be used to treat sun damage and freckles.
Jessner Peel for Texture and Tone
Everyone wants a flawless complexion with an even tone and smooth skin texture. The exfoliative effect of chemical peels stimulates new skin growth, improving the surface texture and appearance 4.
Image source: Instagram @skinandbodyclub
Jessner Peel for Rough Skin
Bumpy rough skin is often caused by keratosis pilaris, which can easily be treated. Bumps are often resolved with the help of salicylic acid, while lactic acid can help with the redness this condition often causes. This makes Jessner peel the perfect option for treating KP.
Jessner Peel Under Eyes
Under-eye peels are safe when used in light concentrations. They’re great for brightening dark circles, reducing puffiness and removing fine lines.
Usually, lactic acid, one of the components of Jessner’s solution, is used to even out the discoloration. Also, TCA peel is quite often used in combination with Jessner peel to make it more eye-safe.
Jessner Peel for Wrinkles and Fine Lines
The Jessner peel triggers skin cell turnover and promotes collagen production. Collagen is great in promoting skin plumpness. As we age, our body stops producing as much of this protein which is what causes skin sagging.
The deliberate injury to the skin that is caused by chemical peels stimulates new epidermal growth and collagen production, filling out fine lines and shallow wrinkle crevices.
Jessner Body Peel
Body peels work the same way facial treatments do – exfoliating the skin and removing the top layer of skin to reveal fresh, unscared one underneath. This peel is often used to address things like crepey leg skin, pigmented backs, back acne, and more.
Image source: Instagram @cosmedispa
Jessner Peel on Back
Chemical peels can be used on the back, but some body areas require milder concentrations due to the higher skin sensitivity.
Salicylic acid is great for treating acne, and having it in combination with other acids makes it safe even for treating bigger areas like the back.
Jessner Peel on Legs
Keratosis pilaris often emerges on thighs or buttocks and upper arms. The keratolytic properties of chemical peeling help treat this skin condition.
Jessner peel is especially effective because it can be combined with other peels, helping penetrate deeper into the thicker, body skin – yet still remaining safe.
Limitations of Jessner Peel
Your technician will inquire about your skin and medical history before scheduling a peel to make sure you don’t have any conditions or drugs that would make it unsafe for you to receive a Jessner peel.
In general, you might not be a good candidate for the Jessner peel if you:
- Have used Isotretinoin (Accutane) in the past 6 months
- Have a skin condition such as psoriasis, eczema or rosacea
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have a history/proneness to keloids or abnormal scarring
- Have active viruses and infections
- Have an allergy to aspirin or milk
- Have lupus
- Have active cold sores
- Have severe asthma
- Have an active sunburn
How to Prepare for a Jessner Peel
To maximize the results and minimize the potential post-peel complications, you might need to prep the skin for this peel a few weeks in advance.
This entails the use of topical retinoids (tretinoin, tazarotene, retinol formulations), AHAs, and other exfoliating agents like azelaic acid, kojic acid, and licorice – although they are a bit less effective.
The routine will be chosen depending on what condition you wish to treat and how serious the issue is.
Most often, it’s recommended the client uses topical retinoid for a couple of weeks to thin out the stratum corneum and enhance skin cell turnover.
But since retinoids also enhance the penetration of the peeling agent, which is why their use should be discontinued a few days prior to the chemical peeling treatment.
When it comes to treating conditions like melasma, acne, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation retinoids should be discontinued a week or two before the procedure to avoid post-peel complications.
This also goes for clients with darker skin tones – no matter the condition.
What Happens During Jessner Peel Treatment?
The procedure will begin with a thorough cleaning of the area that’s about to be treated. Removing any oil or product residue will ensure better and more even penetration of the peeling agent.
The technician will also protect your eyes, mouth, and nose. If you are doing medium-deep peel, they might also use numbing cream or offer you to take a sedative or painkillers.
Following this, the peel is applied. To ensure a uniform application, it is then swiped around the skin with a feathering motion using gauze, a brush, or a cotton-tipped applicator.
If you need multiple coats of the solution, another layer might be applied as soon as the previous layer dries or crystallizes. For most people, two to five coats will be applied.
When the solution starts working its magic, you can spot frosting on the skin. You may feel burning or stinging.
Unlike other chemical peels that are meant to be removed after a few minutes, Jessner’s solution is a leave-in, self-neutralizing solution. It must be left completely undisturbed for 6-8 hours.
To achieve the desired results, some people require multiple sessions. You must follow the preparation and recovery instructions for each treatment if you choose to have more than one peel.
Image source: Instagram @masteresthetician101
What to Expect After a Jessner Peel
After the procedure, your skin may continue to sting or burn for another half an hour or so. Feeling of tightness and some slight discomfort may be felt in the first 24 hours. During this time your skin may also look red and a bit swollen.
But these side effects shouldn’t last longer than 24-48 hours nor should they be severe. If you’re feeling like something is wrong, contact your doctor immediately.
How Long Do You Peel After a Jessner Peel?
The extent of Jessner peel peeling you might experience is tied to the depth that was used. A more aggressive peel like medium depth one will cause more peeling than the superficial one, which will most likely only evoke some skin flaking.
Generally, it will take 7–14 days for the skin to heal completely and see the full results of the peel. But let’s go over Jessner peel day by day healing process so you’d know what to expect.
- Day 1-2: The skin may have a frosted look until you apply a recommended ointment. Don’t worry if the skin starts turning unevenly colored during this time. It should be minimally touched to avoid further irritating it.
- Day 3-4: This is the time when the peeling starts. Resist the urge to peel the skin off, let it peel naturally. Your skin may feel tight, so make sure you moisturize it frequently.
- Day 5-7: The peeling process will likely be done by day 7. But it’s important to note that if you’ve experienced Jessner peel not peeling as much as you thought it should, that doesn’t mean the chemicals didn’t do their job. The peeling is only a side effect of the process that is going on beneath the skin’s surface.
Image source: Instagram @glymedplus
Post Jessner Peel Care
The most important thing for post Jessner peel care is staying away from the water and oil-based products for at least 6-8 hours, preferably longer. Oil will counteract the effects of the peel, while water might drive the solution deeper into the skin.
Other than that, the aftercare is quite similar to any other chemical peel routine. You can read more about that here.
Be extra gentle with your skin and only use products your technician recommended or allowed. During the healing period, you must also resist the urge to touch or itch your treated skin.
How Safe Is a Jessner Peel?
Jessner’s peels are generally well tolerated and have little side effects. The most common side effects are redness, tightness, and post-peel swelling.
Additionally, there may be some post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which raises the question of whether or not a Jessner peel should be used for African American skin.
So, Is It Safe to Do a Jessner Peel on African American Skin?
People with darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick’s skin types V and VI) should go to an experienced professional to prevent any possible discoloration problems.
When done by a trained dermatologist, this treatment is safe for all skin tones – including darker African American skin tones.
This rule also goes for people with extremely fair skin tones since Jessner peel may be too aggressive for their skin.
Image source: Instagram @rh.beauty.spa
Jessner Peel Cost
Just like the cost of any other chemical peel, the price range for Jessner peel is quite wide.
The average price of Jessner peel is $673 per peel if we encompass both light and deep peels.
But depending on where you get the peel, the area you’re looking to treat, and who you’re booking with, the price can be anywhere from $75 to $400 for light to medium treatment.
Deep chemical peels are done by medical professionals so they’re quite expensive (even thousands of dollars).
Jessner Peel at Home
Since Jessner’s solution has to be mixed on the spot during the treatment, there really aren’t that many alternatives to using a Jessner peel at home.
While it is possible to do this by yourself, it’s strongly advised against doing so.
Stable formulas can be found over the counter, but most of those products are intended to be used by professionals.
Let us remind you that, as a non-professional, it’s easy to make a mistake during the application process – and when it comes to chemical peels – even the smallest gone wrong situations can endanger your health.
Instead, book with a trusted, trained, and experienced professional, or opt out for some other peeling agent that is adopted for non-professional use.
Here’s some recommendations of products that contain similar ingredients to Jessner’s solution if you really want to avoid booking a professional treatment:
Jessner Peel – Main Takeaways
If you want to lessen the look of acne scars, enlarged pores, fine lines and wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation, the Jessner peel can be a very useful procedure. It’s also a fantastic option if you want to revive your complexion and look younger and more radiant.
But what makes this treatment different is its ability to be mixed with other treatments. On its own, it’s usually done as a medium-depth peel but really it shines more as a solution that helps make other peels both more effective and safer.
- Monheit, Gary D. “The Jessner’s+ TCA peel: a medium‐depth chemical peel.” The Journal of dermatologic surgery and oncology 15.9 (1989): 945-950.
- Rendon, Marta I., et al. “Evidence and considerations in the application of chemical peels in skin disorders and aesthetic resurfacing.” Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology 3.7 (2010).
- El Garem, Yehia F., Heba A. Mahmoud, and Mahmoud N. Kamel. “Safety and efficacy of modified Jessner’s solution versus 70% glycolic acid for the treatment of melasma in different skin types: a split-face study.” Journal of the Egyptian Women’s Dermatologic Society 11.3 (2014): 159-166.
- Rendon, Marta I et al. “Evidence and considerations in the application of chemical peels in skin disorders and aesthetic resurfacing.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 3,7 (2010): 32-43.