Chemical peels are popular cosmetic treatments that help to even the skin tone, texture and reduce wrinkles and fine lines. As African American skin is more prone to hyperpigmentation than other skin types, many African Americans look to chemical peels as an option to quickly even the skin tone. Not all cosmetic procedures that suit Caucasian skin types will suit other skin types so you may be wondering about chemical peels for African American skin. There are several different types of chemical peel available and some are definitely not recommended for African American skin. Whether you perform the peel at your dermatologist’s office or at home, this article will tell you about the different types of chemical peels for African American skin.

African American Skin Lightening

There are superficial peels, medium surface peels and deep chemical peels available. Phenol peels are the deepest kind of peel that there is available and are definitely not recommended for black skin as there is a risk of severe damage. Phenol peels are used to treat scars, deep wrinkles or severely sun-damaged skin and can only be carried out once in a person’s lifetime. A phenol peel cannot be carried out at home and the patient is usually under general anaesthetic while the peel is applied.

TCA or trichloroethanoic acid is a medium surface peel and should not be carried out at home on African American skin. TCA is excellent for fading dark marks, evening the skin tone and lightening the skin but should really be carried out by a licensed professional. Ensure your dermatologist is experienced in carrying out TCA peels on dark skin before making an appointment.

Superficial peels are by far the safest but they are also effective at dealing with skin discolorations. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid can all be used for superficial peels. Lactic acid is the mildest of the three but it can be used weekly or every two weeks depending on the concentration of the acid used. Lactic acid is effective for fading acne scars and other minor hyperpigmentation problems.

Salicylic acid is usually used for treating acne more than for hyperpigmentation. Salicylic acid is often found in face washes and moisturizers that are used to treat pimples or acne problems.

Glycolic acid is the strongest of the superficial peels and is effective at treating mild hyperpigmentation on African American skin.

It is important to remember as effective as these peels are for treating hyperpigmentation, they are acids and carelessness can damage your skin. When carrying out chemical peels for African American skin, be sure to discuss it with your dermatologist and follow the instructions very carefully if you decide to do it at home.

If you would like to know more about the chemical peel process or wondering what concentration to use, check out these articles:

Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid and TCA Peels at Home: What Concentration should I Use?

How to Prepare Your Skin for a Chemical Peel at Home

18 thoughts on “Best Chemical Peels for African American Skin

    1. Hi Kendro,

      Chemical peels can be dangerous if not used correctly. If the concentration of acid used is too high or it is left on the face for too long or done too often, it can burn and scar the skin.

      If attempting to use this at home, follow the instructions very carefully. Alternatively, visit a dermatologist to carry out the procedure.

  1. Chemical Peels may be dangerous specially if you use those high concentrations of Glycolic Acid.’;`

  2. African Americans need to be more aware that hyperpigmentation is also a symptom of Celiac disease. Because Celiac is most often apparent in Caucasians, many doctors miss the diagnosis.

  3. After having spent $150 a pop for glycolic peels at a doctor’s office, I decided to try Made from Earth’s Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub.

    Two weeks prior to my office peels, the aesthetician instructed me to use a glycolic face wash (Made from Earth brand, the best!) for two weeks prior in order to get my skin prepped and used to the lower level of glycolic acid.

    I left on the Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub for only 3 minutes, and when I splashed my face off with the sinkful of water, I could feel that this was a deeper peel than I had received at the doctors’.

    The next day, I could see that my skin looked better, but was tight and dry. Very happy with the results! Also, I barely put a dent in the bottle; for under $30, I will be saving well over $1,000 in doctor’s office peels.

  4. Please be careful with administering chemical procedures at home. It is certainly not recommended that one uses harsh chemicals on their skin that have been mixed at home because if you do not know your chemistry things can get very dangerous, even fatal. Consulting with a dermatologist to determine the strength of the acid and having it administered by a doctor or a skin care professional is the ONLY recommendation I have.

  5. i am using 10% glycolic peel for over 2 months ,but no significant results ,instead my skin has gone dark and too many break outs every other day ,I was leaving the peel over night , please suggest some thing as really feel depressed

  6. It is certainly not wise to leave a peel on over night. I know there is risk of burning or damaging the skin. This could be the reason why your skin looks darker. Leaving anything on the skin longer than the directions specify will not improve your results. Damage is almost inevitable, speaking from experience.

  7. Do not leave the peels on overnight the darkening of you skin is the burning. Follow directions and I don’t know of any that tell you to leave the peel on overnight

  8. @Tabby…yes, it is BUT, I dont want to be lighter…I just want the dar blemishes on my face to be faded away…

  9. Hi!

    I have a question, I bought a 20% lactic peel, I have some hyperpigmentation from past acne scars I’d like to get rid off.

    Is lactic acid peels best for getting rid of hyperpigmentation?

    Also, I want to dilute it, I was trying to find a 10% lactic acid peel, could not find it, how does one dilute the concentration? Do I just mix it with some water and then apply it?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

  10. I have a very,very, dark skin area due to shaving.I am too often mistaken for a male.What chemical peel would really lighten my skin without damaging or making it darker.

  11. @ Eddie2. I have a melasma spot below my left eye. In photos it looks like a black eye. I will try the Earth Grapefruit Glycolic Scrub. It does not seem as evasive as a peel. I will reply with the results. @ Tabby, not sure if you are familiar with African American skin conditions, but there are common conditions that causes dark spots. blemishes and scarring. Skin lightening is necessary to correct these conditions.

  12. Im an African American woman and I have a problem with hyperpigmentation. All of my life this has been a problem, that everytime I get bitten or even burned by something when the skin heals it leave dark circles. My entire body is covered in them everywhere except my face and I have used over the counter products like cocoa butter and hydroquinolone and they really dont work, after years i notice the spots get lighter and they are still there. I have never gotten any real answers to why my skin does this and what can I use to truly get rid of the spots, I hate my skin and I am the only one in my famiy with this problem

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