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Have you noticed your complexion isn't as even as it used to be? You may have hyperpigmentation, an umbrella term for small patches of skin over large areas of the face and body that are darker than the surrounding skin. The leading causes of discoloration are hormonal changes, sun exposure, and acne, and they can all add up over time.

A chemical peel for hyperpigmentation is one of the best ways to treat this common skin condition. But how do you know which one is best for you, and how many chemical peels do you need for hyperpigmentation to fade?

As an industry leader in professional peels for over 30 years, PCA SKIN is here to answer all your questions so you can get back to feeling confident in your own skin.


The 3 Main Types of Hyperpigmentation

Choosing a professional peel starts with determining the root cause of your hyperpigmentation, which influences what type you have.



Melasma is caused by hormonal shifts, and it's more common in women than men. One of the most common causes of melasma is pregnancy. While discoloration can appear anywhere on the body, it's most common on the face, leading to the nickname "pregnancy mask."



As the name suggests, sunspots (also known as liver spots) are caused by excessive sun exposure, typically over the course of time. They appear in areas where your skin is most exposed to the sun, such as your face, chest, and hands.


Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

This type of hyperpigmentation is caused by inflammation and skin trauma. It's often associated with acne and is more common and severe in people with darker skin.

A chemical peel being applied to a woman’s skin by a professional esthetician.


How a Chemical Peel for Hyperpigmentation Works

Professional peels help treat hyperpigmentation by exfoliating dead skin cells, resulting in new, healthier skin. This process gradually softens the appearance of hyperpigmentation. The severity of your pigmentation will determine the peel strength and how many treatments you need.

Along with treating hyperpigmentation, professional peels soften fine lines and wrinkles and help improve overall skin tone and texture.


How Many Chemical Peels Do You Need for Hyperpigmentation to Fade?

The number of professional peels you'll need depends on your skin and the intensity of the peel solution (more on that later!). Here's a general framework for what to expect based on the type of peel you get:

  • Light: A series of three to six treatments every four to six weeks
  • Medium-depth: A series of two to four treatments every six to eight weeks
  • Deep: A single treatment or repeating after several years per your skin care professional's guidance


The Best Chemical Peel for Hyperpigmentation

Professional peels are either light, medium-depth, or deep. The best chemical peel for hyperpigmentation largely depends on the extent of your discoloration and your skin type. A PCA SKIN professional will evaluate your skin to ensure your treatment is safe and successful. In the meantime, here's a breakdown of your potential options.



Light peels, also known as superficial peels, have little to no downtime. They're a great choice if you've never had a professional peel or if your hyperpigmentation isn't super noticeable.

  • Alpha-hydroxy acid peels: AHA peels, like the PCA SKIN Bright & Even Peel, are incredibly gentle, so they're only effective for mild hyperpigmentation.
  • Beta-hydroxy acid peels: BHA peels, like the PCA SKIN NoPeel Peel, are great for tackling other skin concerns in addition to early signs of discoloration, like large pores, blemishes, and excessive oil.
  • Jessner peels: Jessner peels, like the PCA SKIN PCA Peel Hydroquinone Free, treat advanced hyperpigmentation and melasma by penetrating your skin at a deeper level than other peeling solutions.



Medium-depth peels target the epidermis and the underlying dermis. They're effective in treating more advanced cases of hyperpigmentation and melasma. If you're not noticing results from a light peel, talk to your skin care professional about taking things to the next level.

  • Trichloroacetic Acid peels: Most TCA peels, including the PCA SKIN Sensi Peel, are medium-depth. Along with treating general discoloration, they're great for softening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation



Deep peels require more downtime but provide the most effective results. This is because they penetrate the deepest layers of the dermis.

  • Phenol peels: These potent peels contain Carbolic Acid and other pigment-fading ingredients like Salicylic Acid and Resorcinol.


What to Know before Booking a Peel

People with darker skin tones are more susceptible to melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, but not all professional peels are right for melanin-rich skin. In general, superficial peels are best, but speak with a licensed skin care professional about your treatment options. Additionally, consult your provider if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have an acute breakout or cold sore
  • Have a family history of keloids (scar tissue)
  • Have been on oral acne medicine within the past six months


Even Skin for the Win

Professional peels are an excellent way to resolve stubborn discoloration and get you back on track to feeling your best. Just make sure to avoid picking at your skin post-peel to prevent additional hyperpigmentation and scarring. While you're at it, wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day—even if it's cloudy. Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of hyperpigmentation, so protecting your skin with sunscreen is key.

You can also support a clear, even complexion on a daily basis by adopting a skin care routine that targets discoloration.

If you're considering a chemical peel for hyperpigmentation, find a skin care expert using the PCA SKIN Certified Professional Locator.


Rebecca Taras

A Chicagoland native, Rebecca began her career catering to celebrity clientele as a licensed esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. Her passion for skin care ingredients, formulations, and skin histology led her to create custom in-room skin, bath, and body amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago. The Chicago Fashion Foundation recognized her efforts with the Style Maker, Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category. She later went on to co-found Terminal Getaway airport spas. Rebecca’s experience also includes serving as an editor for digital outlets such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. She continues to refine her skin care knowledge while spending time traveling the world with her husband.