I've Been Doing At-Home Chemical Peels. Here Are The Pros And Cons.

I've Been Doing At-Home Chemical Peels. Here Are The Pros And Cons.

Even though I’m nowhere close to being old, I’m not incredibly young anymore, either. What this boils down to is, over the span of time that I’ve been on this planet, I have definitely seen some things that make it pretty hard to totally catch me off guard — especially when it comes to Black women and what we are fully capable of in the beauty department. Oh, but when I tell you I had to do a few triple-checks on this post right here? Y’ALL.

Okay, did you peep the text? 60. Umm...60?! Y’ALL. I know we say that “Black don’t crack” ‘n all, however, this is taking things to an entirely different level. And even though I’ve been on-10 about my skin, even before this woman had me damn near mesmerized, I won’t lie — she further confirmed to me why it’s so important to be hypervigilant and super proactive when it comes to consistent and effective skincare. And as of this year, for me, that includes implementing at-home chemical peels.

If you’ve never considered getting a chemical peel before, let alone giving your own self one, stay tuned. I’m gonna touch on all of the things you’re (probably) curious about in order to put your mind at ease so that your skin can be at least half as amazing as this woman’s skin is (lawd!).

What Is a Chemical Peel?

Okay, so let’s start at the beginning. A chemical peel is a process that consists of applying certain acids to your face that will help to remove certain layers of your skin (depending on what kind of acids you use and what concentration you apply) in order to remove dead skin cells, seriously clear out your pores, get rid of hyperpigmentation (over time), soften the appearance of acne marks/scars, fine lines and wrinkles and give your skin a fresh, youthful and glowing look.

For the most part, chemical peels are broken down into three different types:

Light (lunchtime) peel: This peel removes the very top layers of your skin, can be done from the comfort and convenience of your own home, oftentimes consists of very little (if any) skin shedding, and requires no downtime. It’s also relatively painless.

Medium peel: Here, both the upper and middle layers of your skin are removed. People with age spots, acne scarring, severe hyperpigmentation, and somewhat prominent wrinkles may opt for this one. It takes around a week for your skin to fully recover; there is some shedding, and yes, some downtime is required. This kicks the discomfort up a couple of notches (because the acid is stronger).

Deep peel: If you’ve got the kind of acne marks that leave pits or indentations in your skin, there are a good amount of wrinkles and crow’s feet hanging around, or you want a really drastic change in how your skin looks and feels, this is the type of peel that can make that happen for you. Now, this one is where the big kids play. In fact, some professionals will prep your skin for up to eight weeks before even applying this type of peel. The shedding is so extreme that it just might freak you out, and you’re absolutely gonna need to settle in for some downtime. In fact, you may be given some pain medication to handle this one.

As far as the kind of acids that are used in chemical peels, one of the following (or a combination of them) is customary:

  • Glycolic acid
  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Phenol

If you were to do these at home, you can buy them at different concentration levels. For instance, the company that I have quickly become a fan of is Perfect Image. They’ve got peels and peel pads in different chemical forms and concentration levels from 10-50 percent so that you can ease into what works best for you and possibly “build up resistance” (to the chemical levels over time).

If there’s a part of you, that’s skeptical because of your complexion (because there are some people who are haters of brown and Black skin using chemical peels) — that’s part of the reason why I enclosed all of the videos in this article; it’s to provide you with proof that yes, we can use chemical peels, just like everyone else. The main thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to get a professional chemical peel, you should go to a dermatologist or esthetician who actually specializes in melanated skin.

You should also watch videos like the one here via Destiny Lashae Makeup's YouTube channel. It’s an almost 24-minute video that walks you all the way through a deep chemical peeling process so that you know just about all that you would be getting yourself into with that type of peel.

This brings me to my next point about chemical peels.

Why You Should Let a Professional Do a Certain Kind of Them

This brings me to my next point about chemical peels.

If you watched the video that I just mentioned or even the one featured in that section, you can tell that deep (and sometimes even medium) chemical peels ain’t nothin’ to play with on your own. For starters, the process consists of more than just slapping some acid on your face and going about your merry way. A professional has to study your skin to see what chemicals would work best for you; there are other products that need to complement the peel and the downtime…yeah, the downtime.

Plus, you need self-control times a billion to let the peel fully do its process because, if you pick at the peel prematurely, that can be counterproductive as hell in the sense that it could lead to infection, hyperpigmentation, or even permanent scarring.

And if you’re wondering what a professional chemical peel would run you…yeah, that part. Let’s just say that it’s not the cheapest thing on the planet. The average (because some are much lower and some go into the thousands) is somewhere around five hundred bucks for a really thorough deep peel. The good news about that is oftentimes, you only have to go once for one of those. And that price tag is certainly not the only option. My waxer is also an aesthetician, and her chemical peels are around $150 per session.

If all of this is still too deep for your pockets (trust me, I totally get it), another option is to do what I do: my own chemical peels at home.

The Pros of Doing Chemical Peels at Home

Due to the fact that I am a reformed product junkie, I actually don’t mind experimenting a bit with my skin and hair. So, as I was seeing at-home chemical peels pop up in my YouTube algorithm a while back, I took that as a clear sign that I needed to give one a try. I’ll be honest, I probably should’ve gone with something that was 10 percent concentrate first, yet, for the cost, I decided that I would give 30 percent a shot.

I first went with the lactic acid peel, mostly because I already knew that it was an alpha hydroxy acid that is effective at removing dead skin cells (my skin can get pretty dull if I’m not careful) and lightening dark spots. Lately, though, I’ve been playing around with a pineapple pumpkin enzyme peel because the brand that I use combines lactic and glycolic acid (it’s great at treating acne, acne scars, and getting rid of dark patches along with removing dead skin cells too); plus, pineapple is loaded with vitamin C and can help to brighten your complexion while pumpkin contains vitamin E and is an awesome skin hydrator.

Anyway, since using both these peels, here are the “pros” that I have noticed:

  • Not a ton of skin-prepping is required (although you need to thoroughly read and follow the instructions of whatever product you decide to use).
  • The peels are easy to apply.
  • The stinging (at 30 percent, not 10) is quite manageable (although you do feel it).
  • Cool water can typically “deactivate” the peel (although adding baking soda to the water is super effective).
  • My skin immediately looks and feels smoother and “tighter.”
  • I only get period pimples for the most part, and those have decreased, significantly so.
  • Any unevenness is fading.
  • Other skin products glide on so much easier.
  • My pores appear smaller.
  • I can use the peel 2-3 times a week (be careful to build up to that level of tolerance).
  • My skin glows (also almost immediately after use) like it’s radiant.
  • My skin does not shed (although there can be minimal amounts based on higher concentrations).
  • I have virtually no sebum plugs (at least that I can feel or see).
Yeah, I ain’t got no lies to tell you — as far as skincare moves are concerned, applying LIGHT at-home chemical peels has been one of the best decisions that I have EVER made.

No exaggeration; especially when it comes to the price (the bottles that I get are designed to last me for around 20 peels at less than 30 dollars a bottle).

Now, that doesn’t mean that the path to all of what I just mentioned has always been smooth…

The Cons of Doing Chemical Peels at Home

Right now, as we speak, I’ve got a burn scar on the left side of my mouth that is still healing (as far as hyperpigmentation goes). How the heck did it get there? Because I didn’t follow parts of the advice that I’m giving you. Because a part of what affects the impact and effectiveness of a chemical peel is not just the concentration of the acid but how long you leave it on your skin — when I first tried the enzyme one, I thought I was big and bad, and so I left it on, at 30 percent, for five minutes…the first attempt. I caused a minor skin burn. Then, when it started to come off, I thought it was a skin peel and not a burn, and that resulted in a scar. SMDH.

All of this was totally my fault. Still, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t give you a heads up on a few things on the potential “cons” side of chemical peels:

  • Even if you read the instructions, there is some trial and error involved.
  • Because you’re winging it on your own, you might discover the hard way which kinds of acids actually work in your favor and which ones…don’t.
  • Sometimes, it can be hard to know the difference between the kind of stinging that’s working for you (“eating up” the dead skin cells) vs. working against you (actually burning your skin).
  • If you’re not careful, you could end up with some post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from mild scabs or burns that can take quite a bit of time to heal.
  • The results are not nearly as drastic as medium and deep chemical peels (although how many layers you apply and how long you leave a light peel on will determine things like dryness and peeling).
  • There can be some temporary itchiness following applying the peel for a couple of days that will lead to mild scarring if you scratch.
  • You need to apply the peels consistently for the best results (one-and-done is futile).

Aside from those seven points, you also may go through a bit of skin purging, which isn’t a whole lot of fun. Since chemical peels are basically detoxing your skin, it’s not uncommon for your face (or wherever you’re applying the peel) to first look magnificent and then, after a couple of weeks, to have some breakouts due to the toxins and bacteria that are rising to the surface. Indeed, it does take a bit of patience to get through that process (especially if you keep starting and stopping the peels), yet I’m a living testament to the fact that it will pass, and the skin that you get on the backside will make it all well worth the time, effort and energy.


Hopefully, I explained chemical peels enough to where, if you are considering a professional one or going the DIY route, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Like I already said, I am a fan and wish I had known about them sooner. Few things have blessed my skin more, y’all. And I totally mean that.

Now, let me go apply my peel for the day. Yay! It’s time.

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Stacey and Dalen Spratt

How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.

I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.

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