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A woman with acne on her face.

You may have heard that chemical, or professional, peels can improve your overall complexion, but did you know that many people use chemical peels for acne? Acne can pop up regardless of your age or stage in life. Sometimes it strikes teens getting ready for a school dance, but adults can get it, too. For example, new mothers may experience breakouts after having a baby. Even your grandparents' skin can break out due to hormonal changes, medication, or stress.

So, how do chemical peels help with hormonal acne? Professional peels are a safe, science-backed treatment that can effectively clear up acne-prone complexions—no matter the cause. Read on to explore the transformative power of chemical peels for acne and how you can use them to achieve clear skin.


What Is a Chemical Peel?

"Professional peel" and "chemical peel" mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. Both terms refer to a skin care treatment that uses a chemical solution to remove the top layer of old skin.


What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when oil and dead skin cells clog hair follicles. This blockage can lead to whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and even deep, painful lumps, such as nodules and cysts.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne pops up for many reasons, including surging hormones during milestones like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Dead skin cell buildup and certain cosmetics can also block hair follicles and allow bacteria to grow inside your pores, causing inflammation. Diet may also trigger or exacerbate existing acne. The good news? Professional peels help with all types of acne.

Reception, examination and procedures at the doctor of the skin care clinic


How Do Professional Peels Treat Acne?

If you have acne, professional peels can be a great treatment alternative to oral medication. They work by exfoliating the skin's surface, reducing inflammation, unclogging pores, and targeting the bacteria that cause acne. This treatment speeds up your skin's natural cell turnover rate, allowing new, healthier skin layers to emerge. There are a variety of chemical peels for acne. For example, PCA SKIN professional peels include the PCA Peel, Ultra Peel, and Sensi Peel to meet you where you are in your skin care journey.


Ingredients That Target Acne

Active ingredients that improve acne-prone skin include:


Salicylic Acid

This oil-soluble acid deeply penetrates pores to exfoliate inside the follicle, reducing inflammation and treating breakouts.


Glycolic Acid

An alpha-hydroxy acid, Glycolic Acid exfoliates the skin, helps clear pores, and improves skin texture.


Lactic Acid

This acid offers exfoliation and moisturization, and it's perfect for sensitive acne-prone skin.


Do Chemical Peels Help with Hormonal Acne?

Professional peels can help with hormonal acne by exfoliating the skin to clear clogged pores and ensure a smoother complexion. They also play a pivotal role in reducing the inflammation commonly associated with acne. However, while peels can relieve the skin's surface, you may need to address the underlying hormonal imbalance for long-lasting results. Consult your health care professional for comprehensive treatment.


What Type of Peel Depth Do You Need: Superficial, Medium, or Deep?

A superficial peel only affects the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. These peels are ideal for reducing minor discoloration and smoothing rough skin. A medium-depth peel penetrates the middle layer of the skin to treat damaged skin cells. It can improve age spots, wrinkles, and moderate acne scars. Finally, a deep peel intensely targets the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. Deep peels are recommended for severe acne scars or deep wrinkles, but they may not be suitable for everyone. Medium-depth peels can offer the best balance of effectiveness and recovery time for acne-prone skin. Your Dermatologist or Esthetician will choose a chemical peel for acne that's gentle yet effective according to your skin's needs so you can look and feel your best.


How Often Should You Get a Professional Peel?

The recommended frequency for a superficial professional peel is every two to five weeks. Your skin care professional may recommend waiting several months between medium peels. Talk to your skin care pro to determine a timeline that will clear up acne, let the skin fully recover between sessions, and maximize the benefits of a professional peel.


Post-Treatment Care at Home

Make sure to pamper your skin after getting a professional peel. First, ensure it stays hydrated by moisturizing regularly. Second, slather on sunscreen before heading outside—professional peels make your skin more sun-sensitive, and going without can leave your complexion vulnerable to sun damage. Finally, avoid harsh skin care products for a week, such as those with Retinol or other strong ingredients.


When to Expect Results

While you may see improvements after one session, most people with acne-prone skin will notice significant changes after three to four treatments. Remember, consistency is key!


Carving the Path to Clear Skin

So, do chemical peels help with hormonal acne? Acne can be a challenging skin issue, but professional peels can complement your acne-prone skin care regimen and clear the path to better skin—no matter what type you have. Just remember: your skin is unique, so getting an individual assessment is important. Consult a PCA SKIN certified professional near you to begin your personalized skin care journey and start seeing results.


Daisy Brumby
Daisy Brumby is a journalist turned beauty writer who specializes in all things skincare. She has written for West Dermatology, the Skin and Cancer Institute, and The Aesthetic Guide. What’s her skin care secret? She swears by the power of sunscreen to protect skin and Retinol to rejuvenate it.