AHA and BHA peels
The best chemical peels for home usage are Alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) peels. AHA peels are ones that are derived from fruit, nut, or sugar. The BHA used for cosmetic peels is salicylic acid, which is derived from willow bark. Aspirin is also derived from willow bark. So if you have a problem with aspirin, do not use salicylic acid. The most mild ones are AHA peels. Both AHA and BHA acids gently exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, increase the turnover rate of cells, uncover newer healthier skin, and encourage collagen production. BHA achieve the same results as AHA peels with the additional benefits of being antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and capable of reducing pore size. You can get both AHA and BHA peels in superficial (mild) strength and medium strength. They do sting much like you would expect fruit acid on the skin to feel. To me, it is not very irritating or uncomfortable. Of course, as the concentration strength increase, so does the level of irritation. I use salicylic acid. I started with 17%, and then moved on to 30%.
Glycolic, TCA, and Jessner's solution peels
Glycolic peels are an AHA derived from sugar cane. Glycolic peels are good for exfoliating and generating new skin production and bring about strengthening of deeper layers of skin. They also unclog the pores, remove bacteria, and dead skin cells. They soften wrinkles, and reduce superficial sun damage. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are meant to reach the medium layer of skin. They reduce sun damage (dark spots, age spots, precancerous spots), as well as superficial wrinkles and scars. You can use glycolic or TCA peels in a superficial strength at home. Glycolic peels tend to work more at the surface layer and are gentler and faster to recover from than TCA peels. Jessner's solution are a blend of chemical peel types and other ingredients designed to give the best qualities of these ingredients, while minimizing the negative effects of the chemicals. This mix also protects against damage from overdoing the peel. Jessner’s solution, TCA, and glycolic acid in medium strength should be done with the help of a medical professional. These peels in medium strength can possibly cause scars, and a medical professional knows how to avoid this problem and what to monitor.
Acne control and Pore reduction
Glycolic acid peels and salicylic acid peels are both good for acne control and pore reduction. Glycolic acid cleans the dirt and bacteria out of the pores while exfoliating the surface. Salicylic acid actually exfoliates inside the pore, cleans out the pore, exfoliates the surface of the skin, and also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Salicylic acid is the best choice for pore reduction. Both are good for acne control.
I would definitely recommend that you try lower strength peels first to see if you need a deep peel. If you really feel that you need a deep peel (phenol), you have to do this with a medical professional because it is used in association with sedation. This type of peel can be painful and takes longer to heal.
Want to know more details about the types of chemical peels?
Want to know about my personal experience with salicylic acid peels?
Mary Williamson, blogger, novice marketer, bonsai tree hobbyist