6 Best Chemical Peels for Acne Scars in 2020

When someone says, ‘chemical peel’, my immediate thought is that scene from ‘Sex and the City’ where Samantha’s wearing a black veil to hide her red face from an intense treatment. Anyone else...?

A peel can be the perfect option when you’re wanting to see WOW! results from your skincare regime.

These days, chemical peels can be done in the comfort of your home and have nearly zero downtime.

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel is a procedure that’s used to improve the texture and tone of your skin. Strong chemical exfoliants are applied to quickly and effectively remove dead skin (this is where the peel part comes in), leaving behind a smoother, brighter complexion. The peeling process also stimulates cell regeneration, so acne scars can heal faster.

At-home chemical peels are gentler than medical-grade peels and have little-to-no downtime. Always check the individual product you want to use so you understand the post-treatment recommendations.

Can I use a chemical peel for acne scars?

As chemical peels can help unclog pores and diminish discolouration of the skin, they can be a great option if you’re looking to fade your acne scars. Compared with physical exfoliants, chemical peels not only remove dead skin cells but also stimulate the body’s natural response to produce collagen, which helps heal acne scars.

Instructions differ for each product, but general guidelines when you’re wanting to try a chemical peel at home include pressing Pause on (a) physical exfoliation and (b) retinol products for 24 hours before and after a peel. It’s also important to use sunscreen, as your skin will be sensitive after a peel. But you wear sunscreen every day anyway! (?!)

Also, if you have a breakout that’s inflamed or have a sensitive skin condition, it’s best to avoid chemical peels. The potent acids could disrupt or irritate your skin.

What are the best chemical peels for acne scars?

OK, so we’ve convinced you that chemical peels aren’t a scary thing. Great! Let’s jump into our fave chemical peels for scarring.

1. Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel with 9.9% AHAs + BHA 50ml

Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel with 9.9% AHAs + BHAEstée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel with 9.9% AHAs + BHA

Formulated for acne scars and large pores, Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel with 9.9% AHAs + BHA 50ml balances a high concentration of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) with calming Hyaluronic Acid to curb irritation.

Inspired by professional chemical peels, just one use of this treatment accelerates skin's natural cell turnover and immediately unveils a smooth, glowing complexion. For optimal results, use 2 times per week in the evening. Remember to limit sun exposure and wear SPF daily to protect your healing skin.

2. Skinstitut Enzymatic Micro Peel

The mild formulation of Skinstitut Enzymatic Micro Peel is suitable for all skin types. This exfoliating peel is infused with a blend of moisturising Papaya Extract, Chamomile, Passionfruit Oil, Grape Seed Oil, and Niacinamide. Papaya contains gentle enzymes that work to selectively break down dead cells, revealing the radiant skin underneath. By ‘selectively’, I mean that the enzymes stop exfoliating when no more dead skin remains. Pretty clever!

In addition to its exfoliating properties, the formulation utilises Vitamin B5 and Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) to nourish skin and help heal barrier damage. Plus, anti-inflammatory Chamomile Extract and hydrating Hyaluronic Acid calm the redness of acne scars.

Another plus of this chemical peel is that it can be used either daily after cleansing or as a weekly face mask. Choose the exfoliation method that suits your skin's needs.

3. Pixi Peel & Polish

If you’re looking for a peel that won’t break the bank, we’ve got a great option for you. Pixi Peel & Polish is an enzyme-rich exfoliator that offers a combination of physical scrubbing (Sugar Extract) and gentle chemical exfoliants to help improve skin-cell turnover and heal your acne scars faster. Lactic Acid offers a gentle peel to lighten dark scar tissue and smooth the texture of the skin. This affordable peel is suitable for all skin types and should be used 2 to 3 times per week. Not tested on animals and paraben-free.

4. Erno Laszlo White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C-Peel

Tap into the power of Vitamin C with this 2-step peel that brightens and smooths your skin. Step 1 incorporates Carrot Seed Oil (fatty acids to firm and plump) and Vitamin C (antioxidant to firm and brighten) as a prep. Step 2 is a serum formulated with Lactic Acid that gently exfoliates dead skin cells to brighten scarring and pigmentation. You may want to use Erno Laszlo White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C-Peel weekly for best results. Free from phthalates, parabens, and petrolatum / mineral oil.

5. Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel

A gentle yet effective treatment, Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peell is a unique, biphase chemical peel that leaves the skin radiant and nourished. This peel contains an exfoliant trifecta: Salicylic Acid (BHA), Tranexamic Acid (TXA), and Lactic Acid and Malic Acid (AHAs). This effective combination of acids works on different layers of the skin to gently buff away roughness and hyperpigmentation from acne scarring. Holy Basil Leaf Extract (Tulsi), an adaptogen, is added to support your skin’s barrier so your skin can resist stress. This product can be used daily and is suitable for all skin types and ages.

6. Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel

Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel is a bestseller for a reason. This powerful night cream combines active cosmeceuticals to brighten scars and clear the complexion. Key ingredients include Glycolic Acid, an effective exfoliator, to decongest skin and clear the pathway for other active ingredients to penetrate more deeply and easily. Retinol, another powerful ingredient, helps increase collagen production, fade discolouration, reduce scarring, and minimise acne breakouts. Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel is also enriched with Chronodyn, an algae derivative that helps with skin repair and skin-cell renewal. Axolight assists with skin brightening, and helps prevent age spots.

Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel has a rich and emollient texture, and is recommended to be used twice a week. Due to the Glycolic Acid and Retinol, the formulation may be too strong for sensitive skin.