How Many Chemical Peels Do I Need? All Your Questions Answered

By Emily M.| Last updated on April 5, 2023
how many chemical peels do I need
⏱️ 9 min read

Chemical peels are a popular cosmetic procedure that can improve the appearance of the skin by exfoliating its outer layers. But some skin issues are rooted a bit deeper into the skin’s layers, which often prompts questions like How many chemical peels do I need to see results?

And to figure that out, you need to understand what chemical peels are and how they work. So, before we delve into answering How many chemical peels do I need, let’s first focus on explaining why multiple sessions are needed.

How Many Chemical Peels Do I Need to See Results?

Chemical peels have become increasingly popular in recent years as a means to resolve a number of skin issues and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

These treatments use a chemical solution to exfoliate the skin and remove the outer, blemished layers, and reveal smoother, undamaged skin underneath. But how many layers do you need to remove until the blemish is completely gone?

The number of sessions depends on several factors such as:

  • The intensity of the peeling solution and how frequently the procedure is performed
  • Which condition is in question and how severe are its symptoms
  • Which type of peeling acid is used and its specific characteristics

So let’s go over each of these factors and how they affect the number of chemical peels required.

Image source: Instagram @glowbyjulie

The Intensity of Chemical Peel

Chemical peels come in different strengths, depending on the type and the concentration of the solution.

Peels are divided according to their intensity into light, medium, and deep peels. The deeper they penetrate into the multiple skin layers, the thicker the skin layer will be peeled off.

Most treatments use peels that are light to medium strength because stronger concentrations carry more severe risks.

It’s safer to get multiple superficial peels that take off thin layers of skin rather than removing a thicker layer at once. This allows for quicker recovery and lessens the possibility of something going wrong.

Even so, some conditions are better treated with a deeper peel. Here’s a quick rundown of how the intensities work:

How Many Light Chemical Peels Should I Get?

On average, you may need a series of 3 to 6 treatments, spaced four to six weeks apart, to achieve optimal results.

Since this is the mildest form of chemical peel, it only exfoliates the outermost layer of skin. And since most skin conditions are rooted deeper than that, you’ll likely need multiple sessions.

If you just want a quick refresher, though, and don’t have a specific concern you want to diminish, an occasional session might also work on its own.

How Many Medium Chemical Peels Should I Get?

For medium peels, you may need a series of 2 to 4 treatments, spaced 6 to 8 weeks apart, to achieve optimal results.

This type of peel uses stronger acids that are more concentrated and can penetrate deeper into the skin, exfoliating the outer and middle layers of the skin.

How Many Deep Chemical Peels Should I Get?

This type of peel uses the strongest acid, like phenol, to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin, exfoliating the outer, middle, and deeper skin layers.

While it only requires 1 session, the effects last for several years, which is why this is considered a serious medical treatment and requires quite a bit of downtime. This is why it is often looked at as a last resort.

The Frequency of Treatments

It’s important to keep in mind that chemical peels usually aren’t a one-time solution for skin concerns. The results of a chemical peel are not permanent, so follow-up treatments may be necessary to maintain the improvements achieved.

The interval between peels can range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the strength of the peel and the sensitivity of the skin.

You may not realize, but your skin type plays a big role in how many chemical peels do you need – people with more resilient skin may require fewer peels than those with more sensitive skin.

Here’s generally what improvements you can expect according to the number of sessions:

Can You See Results After 1 Peel?

Yes, you can see results after just one chemical peel, although the extent of the results varies significantly on the aforementioned factors (skin type, the severity of the condition, etc.).

Immediately after a chemical peel, you may notice some improvements in your skin’s texture, brightness, and smoothness but the condition you’re looking to treat may still be there.

This doesn’t mean the treatment didn’t work – this is normal.

Keep in mind that the effects may take several days or even weeks to become fully visible. But even then, most people require more than just one session to be able to see a significant improvement.

As we already mentioned, if you’re doing a deep peel, 1 session is the standard and provides final results.

Image source: Instagram @theperfectpeel

Are 2 Chemical Peels Enough?

While 2 chemical peels can provide noticeable improvements in the texture, tone, and appearance of the skin, some skin concerns may require several peels to achieve optimal results.

For example, if you have mild acne or sun damage, you may only need one or two peels.

However, if you have more severe scarring or hyperpigmentation, you may need a series of peels to achieve the desired results.

Are 3 Chemical Peels Enough?

Generally speaking, three chemical peels can provide noticeable improvements in the appearance of the skin, such as:

  • Smoother texture
  • Improved skin tone
  • Less visible skin issues
  • Healthier-looking complexion
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The Conditions You’re Looking to Resolve

Chemical peels can be an effective solution for addressing a range of skin issues, including acne, scarring, wrinkles, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.

So, the skin concerns you are trying to address – and especially their severity – will also impact the number of peels you need.

Booking with a licensed skincare professional who can evaluate your skin concerns and recommend the ideal treatment plan for your individual needs is the key.

But here’s what you can generally expect when it comes to the most common issues:

How Many Chemical Peels Do I Need for Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is, basically, patches of darker skin caused by clusters of melanin, a pigment our body naturally produces to protect the skin against external harm.

Luckily, this excess pigmentation is relatively surface-level so it’s easily treated with just a few chemical peels.

Dark spots can be treated with a lighter peel, although deeper peels with larger concentrations may produce a more noticeable improvement. Most often, the recommended acids are glycolic, salicylic, or TCA.

These chemicals break up these melanin clusters and as the top skin layers are stripped away during a chemical peel so are the dark patches. The layer of skin underneath should have a more uniform color, and lessen the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

You can read more about chemical peels for hyperpigmentation here.

Image source: Instagram @aurabeautyparlor

How Many Chemical Peels Do I Need for Acne Scars?

Your body attempts to treat acne by increasing collagen production, but if there is too much collagen, scarring develops. Chemical peels help lessen skin’s hyperpigmentation and rough texture, which reduces the visibility of scars.

But the extent of the treatment’s effect the number of sessions depends on the severity and type of scarring as different kinds of skin and acne scars respond differently to various chemical peels. You can read about that here.

Image source: Instagram @milliondollarfacialsystem

How Many Chemical Peels Do I Need for Fine Lines & Wrinkles?

Chemical peels can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles by removing the damaged outer layer of skin, stimulating the growth of new collagen and elastin fibers, which fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them less noticeable.

Both superficial and medium peels can be used to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but the strength of the peel and the number of sessions you will need depends on the severity of the wrinkles.

Very deep wrinkles require a deep chemical peel.

The Different Types of Peels

Chemical peeling treatments are tailored to the individual’s skin needs and their skin type.

Each one has its own unique properties and benefits that can target specific skin concerns, which is why your technician must personalize your procedure according to your skin’s needs.

Let’s go over the most popular ones:

How Many Lactic Acid Peels Do I Need?

It depends on what you’re trying to do. In general, 4 to 6 can give a significant improvement.

Lactic acid peel is considered to be the mildest acid, suitable for all skin types – even sensitive.

It is derived from milk so it has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and calm irritated skin. It’s also a humectant, which means it can make the skin look plump and supple.

Lactic acid is used as a gentle exfoliant that is less irritating than other AHAs like glycolic acid.

But just because it’s considered mild doesn’t mean it’s not as effective. This acid can be more than just superficial if that’s what the client’s condition requires.

However, lactic acid peels are usually used as superficial ones, to help brighten up your complexion and rejuvenate the skin.

This means you can get multiple sessions more frequently as your skin will recover quickly after each one. Usually, you’ll need a series of 4-6 peels to fight off a bit more severe concern.

You can read more about its benefits here.

How Many Glycolic Acid Peels Do I Need?

A single glycolic acid peel does make a difference when it comes to overall skin betterment, but for more severe concerns, such as deep wrinkles or extensive hyperpigmentation, a series of 4-6 glycolic acid peels seems to be the answer.

Glycolic acid peel is an alpha-hydroxy acid of a natural origin (derived from sugar cane), and it’s probably the most commonly used AHA because it’s well-suited to all skin types.

It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as very small molecules which means it can penetrate deeper than other, larger molecules can. You can read more about its characteristics here.

Glycolic acid is usually used as a light to medium-strength, but its concentration can be upped for deep peels as well. So the number of sessions needed depends on the concentration used, as well as how your skin reacts to it.

How Many Salicylic Acid Peels Do I Need?

For mild acne or clogged pores, a single salicylic acid peel might do the work just fine. Since this acid is mostly used for treating acne, to answer How many chemical peel sessions do I need, your technician must first evaluate the type of acne and the severity of the condition. 

Salicylic acid, or BHA, is mostly known for its ability to penetrate deeply into the skin and dissolve oil and debris that clog pores.

This makes it a go-to treatment for acne-prone skin, but it has many other benefits. It’s well-tolerated on all skin types and tones, even darker ones.

Take a closer look at salicylic acid peel here.

How Many TCA Peels Do I Need?

For mild skin concerns, a single TCA peel may be sufficient to see results. But, for more severe concerns, a series of 2-6 TCA peels performed at 6-12 week intervals may be necessary.

Trichloroacetic acid peel, or TCA peel, is composed of different strengths and combinations of nontoxic acid ingredients. And while the intensity can vary from very light to deep chemical peels, TCA peels are usually considered medium strength.

These peels are often used to treat more severe skin concerns, such as deep wrinkles, acne scars, and severe hyperpigmentation.

You can read more about what conditions TCA peel can treat here.

So, again, the number of sessions will depend on the strength of your peel needed to alleviate the symptoms of your skin concerns.

Image source: Instagram @thewell.lorigsaboutface

How Many Jessner Peels Do I Need?

For mild skin concerns, such as minor acne breakouts or superficial hyperpigmentation, a single Jessner peel may be sufficient, but for more severe concerns, a series of 3-6 Jessner peels performed at 2-4 week intervals may be necessary to achieve the desired results.

Jessner peel is a unique chemical peel because it is a carefully crafted formulation of multiple acids – more accurately lactic, salicylic acid, and resorcinol. But other modified versions swap out resorcinol for another ingredient, most commonly citric acid.

Each ingredient in has distinct properties that increase the solution’s overall ability, while reducing the concentration of any one ingredient. It is used as a medium-deep chemical peel, but its intensity can be adjusted to a lighter or deeper treatment.

Read more about the properties of Jessner’s solution here.

So, How Many Chemical Peels Do You Need?

Well, that’s just the thing. We cannot give you a definite answer, because, at the end of the day, it’s up to your specific skin concern.

It’s best to work with a licensed skincare professional who can evaluate your skin concerns and recommend a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. They will consider factors such as your skin type, skin issues, and the right type and strength of the peel to determine the ideal number of sessions you need.

Cover image source: Freepik



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