Health And Lifestyle For The Over 50s

Chemical Peels: What Are They, and Can They Reverse the Signs of Aging?


Classified by the NHS as ‘usually safe’, chemical peels are gaining popularity in the UK and are seen as a non-surgical way of making the skin look younger. However, those considering the treatment may be confused as to what is actually involved and how effective they really are.

What is a Chemical Peel?

There are many different chemical peels available at cosmetic clinics across the UK. Most work by removing layers of dead skin; revealing fresher, less damaged skin underneath.

During the treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the face, which gently rubs against the skin, creating necessary friction to remove the dull skin layers on the surface. There are different types of chemical peel, from superficial to deep peels. Generally, the lighter the peel, the less painful the treatment; and most superficial peels are pain-free.

Afterwards, you may experience some tingling or redness to the skin; and those who have had a deep peel may notice peeling and swelling in the affected area.

Do Chemical Peels Work?

The advantage of a chemical peel is that it provides instant results. Many people who have a chemical peel notice that their skin is smoother and fresher afterwards, and the treatment can also improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, scarring, acne or other pigmentation.

Of course, results are not permanent, and in order to maintain smoother, fresher looking skin, you’ll need to have regular treatments.

The Dangers of Chemical Peels

As with any form of cosmetic treatment, there are risks involved. Dr Nick Lowe, director of the Cranley Clinic in London, expresses concern about the long-term effects of chemical peels on the skin, which if used to regularly, can result in skin darkening, broken veins and increased lining to the face.

He also highlights the lack of regulation in the industry, and the risks of booking the treatment with an inexperienced practitioner. ‘The problem is some beauty therapists are untrained and inexperienced, failing to recognise skin types – fair, sensitive, acne-prone or with broken veins – that will react badly to them.’

The NHS also mentions other risks, which include:

  • Permanent darkening or lightening of the skin
  • Increased risk of recurring cold sores
  • Scarring or infection
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight immediately after the treatment


As a result, Dr Lowe recommends having no more than one chemical peel per month.

He warns: ‘A peel or dermabrasion may be OK once a month, but if women have these treatments weekly or even more frequently, they will interfere with the skin’s protective barrier. This can lead to chronic levels of inflammation, thread veins and blotchy discolouration.’

Stay Safe When Having a Chemical Peel

If you’d like to have a chemical peel, then firstly, it’s important to make sure that your cosmetic practitioner is fully qualified and has the necessary credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at your initial consultation, and if you have any doubts at all, look elsewhere.

Limit the number of treatments that you have, and remember that there are plenty of other things you can do to stay looking younger, such as eating well, exercising regularly and reducing stress in your life.

For a comprehensive look at chemical peels and other non-surgical cosmetic procedures, why not read our new article:

How Much do Non Surgical Cosmetic Procedures Cost in the UK?

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