Chemical Peels

Fast results for improved skin and increased revenues

Many people are confounded by the difference between a facial and a chemical peel. Most people recognize that facials are designed to provide deep cleansing and relaxation. However, chemical peels often conjure an episode of Sex and the City where Samantha's peel has nightmarish results.

The reality is, informed patients looking for real results will turn to chemical peeling for immediate results with minimal downtime.

Chemical peeling is a method of resurfacing skin by removing the outermost layers. Dating back through the ages to the days of Cleopatra, when sour milk was used to improve the skin's appearance, chemical peels made great advancements and became popular among aestheticians in the early 1990s. Today, chemical peels are used to treat several skin conditions including rosacea, acne, those related to aging, and scarring.


Depth of a chemical peel

Chemical peels are classified by the depth they penetrate. There are four general categories:

  • Superficial - affects the stratum corneum / epidermis
  • Light - affects the stratum corneum / epidermis; penetrates deeper into the epidermis that superficial peels
  • Medium - affects the epidermis papillary dermis
  • Deep - affects the epidermis, papillary dermis and reaches the reticular dermis

Strength of a peel

The strength of a chemical peel is determined by several factors:

  • Peel solution
  • Percentage of peel selection
  • pH of the peel selection
  • Where the peel is applied
  • Length of time the peel is left on the skin

Peeling solutions

Peel selection is a key factor for optimal results. Peeling solutions may include:

  • AHAs (glycolic, lactic, citric)
  • BHAs (salicylic)
  • Jessner's (blend: salicylic, lactic & resorcinol)
  • Retinoic
  • Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)
  • Phenols (rarely used anymore)
  • Peel solutions are chosen based on skin condition.

Patient evaluation

Pre-peel patient evaluation includes several factors:

  • Identify the patient's Fitxpatrick typ I-VI—a classification of how the skin reacts to sun.
  • Identify the patient's Glogau type I-IV—a classification of photoaging.
  • Wood's Lamp evaluation—giving a clearer view of effects in the skin that you can't see with the naked eye.

Aestheticians require training before performing chemical peels to ensure extensive knowledge of a number of factors: skin histology, advanced evaluation of the patient's skin, proper peel selection, ways to reduce post peel complications, and most importantly ways to ensure patient satisfaction. Pre- and post-care is essential when adding chemical peeling to your treatment menu. Proper pre- and post-care can significantly reduce post-peel complications. Chemical peeling training is widely available throughout Canada as a continued education program.

Startup costs for chemical peeling in the spa or medi-spa can start at a few hundred dollars or more. It is a relatively low startup cost in comparison to the projected revenue. Chemical peels are priced between $80 to $250 per treatment with treatments averaging around 30 minutes. Chemical peels create client loyalty as most peels require an average of six treatments with a maintenance program that should include retail.

An important startup cost to remember is insurance. It is imperative that you obtain the appropriate insurance for the peels that you are offering. Be sure to include your certification and list of peel solutions including the percentages and pHs. The more information you can give, the better, because in the event of an incident you want to have the right coverage.

Chemical peels have become a significant part of aesthetics and complement many other treatments such as microdermabrasion and laser treatments. For the medi-spa, chemical peels play a vital role in improvement of the patient's skin, enabling an expanded menu leading to increased revenue for the business.

Stacey Johnson is the owner of Esthetics Plus, bringing you the latest trends, products, and education to keep your spa business up-to-date.



by Stacey Johnson | Summer 2012