Chemical peels

A chemical peel is solution applied to the face to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the growth of new cells.

The aim is to improve the appearance of the skin – for example, by reducing age spots and evening out skin tone.

There are 3 types of peels, called superficial, medium and deep.

Superficial and medium peels are usually safe, as long as they're done correctly. These type of peels are not permanent and they need to be repeated.

Deeper peels are more risky. They're longer-lasting and do not usually need to be repeated.

In the UK, chemical peels cost about £60 to £100 for mild peels. Deeper peels may cost more than £500.

What to think about before you have chemical peels

If you're thinking about having chemical peels, be clear about why you want them.

Read more about deciding whether a cosmetic procedure is right for you.

Choosing a practitioner

Having a chemical peel is usually safe if it's done by an experienced and suitably qualified practitioner.

Check the person doing your chemical peel is on a register to show they meet set standards in training, skill and insurance.

Avoid practitioners who have only completed a short training course.

Book a consultation with the practitioner before you have the procedure.

Ask about:

Read more about choosing who will do your cosmetic procedure.

Different types of chemical peels

Superficial peels

Medium peels

Deep peels


Possible risks of chemical peels include:

Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun as it heals, so you need to use sunscreen for at least a month after treatment.

Your practitioner should give you advice about how to reduce your risk of getting side effects and complications.

What to do if you have problems

If you're not happy with the results of your chemical peel, or you have problems, talk to your practitioner at the clinic where you were treated.

If you have complications that need medical attention, go back to the practitioner who treated you. If this is not possible, speak to your GP or go to your local accident and emergency (A&E).

You can report side effects of chemical peels through the Yellow Card Scheme website. By reporting side effects, you're providing valuable information about the safety of the product used.

Page last reviewed: 6 August 2019
Next review due: 6 August 2022