Let’s Talk About Peels

If lackluster winter skin has many of your clients frustrated, it’s time to talk to them about peels. Peel treatments, especially in the winter months, are one of the best ways to get their skin back on track. Chemical peels have a variety of benefits—from improving tone and texture to helping with acne scars, peels can quickly and effectively breakdown the top layer of skin to reveal glowing results.

Winter is the ideal time for Chemical Skin Peels

Because peels are designed to remove superficial dead skin cells and stimulate cell turnover, winter is the ideal time to talk to your clients about a series of peels. Dehydrated and element exposed skin is prime for a little extra TLC, and a peel’s process is one of the best treatments for giving the skin a reboot. Depending on the active ingredients (such as salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids, etc.) used, they can boost collagen synthesis, hydrate the skin, alleviate pigmentation, and leave skin with a youthful glow.

How about a series?

Talk to your clients about a peel series designed to target and correct skin issues that includes 4 to 6 treatments about a month apart. Spacing the treatments out will allow for skin cells to renew, with each peel treating new skin cells just beneath the surface. As you work with your clients, modify your peel technique to concentrate on their primary skin type or other conditions such as acne, and don’t be afraid to mix products to come up with the ideal combination for their skin. During the process, some peels can help promote the building of collagen while making the skin more receptive to skincare products, increasing efficacy and performance. Consider suggesting a skin type specific facial treatment as the last step in their peel series.   

Contraindications For Chemical Peels

Always exercise caution when considering chemical peels for your clients, as certain contraindications may make the treatment unsuitable or risky. Here are some key contraindications to be aware of:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding—always have your client consult a doctor prior
  • Recent sun exposure, sunburn, or tanning bed use
  • Active skin infections or open wounds
  • Allergies to peel ingredients
  • Current use of certain medications, such as isotretinoin (Accutane), Retin-A, or other medications that exfoliate or thin the skin (within 6 months)
  • Recent cosmetic surgery, laser resurfacing, deep or medium depth chemical peels, or dermabrasion
  • History of keloid scarring
  • Uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune disorders
  • Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis
  • Recent facial waxing or use of depilatory creams
  • High blood pressure or heart disease, or any medication that may cause skin irritation

Know Your Acids: Type of Peels

1. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

  • Common Types: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid.
  • Source: Derived from fruits, milk, and sugar cane.
  • Water Solubility: Water-soluble.
  • Mechanism: Exfoliates by loosening the bonds between dead skin cells, promoting cell turnover.
  • Primary Benefits:
    • Improves skin texture and tone.
    • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
    • Helps with hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.
  • Best For: Normal to dry, sun-damaged skin.
  • Considerations: Can cause irritation and increase sun sensitivity; your client should always, always use sunscreen.

2. Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

  • Common Type: Salicylic Acid.
  • Source: Derived from willow bark, wintergreen leaves, or sweet birch.
  • Solubility: Oil-soluble.
  • Mechanism: Penetrates into pores to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, reduces sebum production.
  • Primary Benefits:
    • Treats acne by unclogging pores.
    • Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
    • Reduces blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Best For: Oily, acne-prone skin.
  • Considerations: Can cause dryness and irritation; start with lower concentrations.

3. Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs)

  • Common Types: Gluconolactone, Lactobionic acid.
  • Source: Derived from gluconic acid, which comes from the oxidation of glucose.
  • Water Solubility: Water-soluble.
  • Mechanism: Gently exfoliates the outermost layer of the skin without penetrating too deeply.
  • Primary Benefits:
    • Less irritating than AHAs and BHAs.
    • Provides antioxidant benefits.
    • Humectant properties, drawing moisture into the skin.
    • Suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Best For: Sensitive, dry, and mature skin.
  • Considerations: Generally well-tolerated but can still cause mild irritation in very sensitive individuals.


  • AHAs are best for anti-aging and improving skin texture in normal to dry skin types.
  • BHAs are ideal for treating acne and oily skin by penetrating and cleaning out pores.
  • PHAs offer gentle exfoliation suitable for sensitive skin, with added hydration and antioxidant benefits.
  • Blends of AHA/BHA/PHA are ideal for a wide range of skin concerns (check the label as some are developed for very specific concerns) or to resurface on multiple levels.