Chemical Peels: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions and Alternative Treatment Options

Chemical peels are popular cosmetic treatments that are used to improve the look and feel of the skin on the face, neck, and hands. At UnionDerm, we offer a selection of chemical peels of various depths to address your unique skin concerns.

Chemical peels involve applying a special chemical solution to the skin, which promotes exfoliation. This process removes dead skin cells, stimulates cell turnover, and also promotes the production of collagen and elastin in the skin for brighter, more evenly toned skin. Downtime will ultimately depend on the depth of the peel you receive.

About Clear + Brilliant: An Alternative to Chemical Peels

We are proud to offer Clear + Brilliant which is a great introductory laser for those interested in chemical peels, but with even better results!

Clear + Brilliant is an FDA-approved laser treatment to prevent and address early signs of aging such as uneven skin texture and tone, large pores, sun damage, and more. Clear + Brilliant can be used on the face, neck, chest, and hands.

During this treatment, micro-thermal zones are created in the skin, triggering collagen production for a rejuvenated glow. Following treatment, patients may experience mild redness and swelling, which should resolve within an hour. Our team will provide you with specific aftercare instructions to ensure optimal results.

For more information regarding Clear + Brilliant and how it can benefit your skin, please contact UnionDerm in Union Square, Central Park, and the Hamptons today.

Chemical Peels: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do chemical peels do?

Chemical peeling agents resurface the skin by inducing a controlled wound and thus removing superficial layers of the skin. As a result, chemical peels promote the growth of a new healthy top skin layer and improve skin problems like hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven texture, and skin impurities.

Q: What should I expect during treatment?

Procedures may vary depending on the type of chemical peel chosen. Skin is prepped using a medical degreaser to ensure the treated area is free of any oils left on the skin. The chemical agent is then applied and typically remains on the skin for 3 to 5 minutes. Most patients feel a mild stinging which is temporary and usually subsides after a few minutes. Some peels are designed to self-neutralize and may remain on your skin for 2-4 hours.

Q: How long is the recovery after a chemical peel and what type of care is necessary?

Recovery times will vary based on the type and strength of the peel. Immediately after the peel, your skin will feel tight and may be red. Any visible peeling will be light and fluffy and easily controlled with moisturizer. Peeling usually lasts 3-5 days, depending on the actual peel treatment. Use of gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen is important, as it will enhance the healing process and results. Normal activity may be resumed after the peel, however, strenuous exercise and heavy sweating should be avoided for 2-3 days. Sun exposure should be avoided while the skin is peeling; exposure of treated skin to a lot of heat should also be avoided as it may induce swelling, redness, and for deeper peels, blisters under the skin. Peeling skin should be allowed to slough off naturally; picking or peeling of flaking skin is prohibited, as it may lead to scarring. Use of prescription topicals should be avoided for 3-5 days post-peel.

Q: Why did I not have any visible peeling after my peel?

The success of the peel should not be judged by the amount of peeling, but by the end results that the peel will produce. The amount of peeling may vary depending on the individual skin condition at the time of the peel or the depth of the peel. Regardless of the degree of peeling, the skin is still sloughing off at an accelerated rate, resulting in the improvement of skin tone and texture and an improvement of fine lines and uneven pigmentation.

Q: What products or procedures should I avoid before a chemical peel?

  • One week before the peel avoid waxing, electrolysis, depilatory creams, and laser hair removal.
  • Two to three days before the peel discontinue using any prescription topicals such as Retin-A, Differin, or Tazorac, as well as any products containing retinol, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), beta hydroxyl acids (BHA), or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Patients who have had any medical cosmetic facial treatments or procedures such as Laser treatments, cosmetic fillers, or other surgical procedures should wait until skin sensitivity has completely resolved before receiving a peel.

Q: What are the counterindications to chemical peels?

Chemical peels should be avoided if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Active cold sores, herpes simplex, or warts in the area to be treated
  • Wounded, sunburned, or excessively sensitive skin
  • Accutane use within the last year
  • History of recent chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Allergies to aspirin
  • Women who are pregnant or actively breastfeeding
  • Patients with Vitiligo
  • Patients with a history of autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc) or any condition that may weaken their immune system



The Vitalize peel is a superficial peel designed to improve the texture and appearance of skin. (Salicylic acid, Resorcinol, Lactic acid)

Q: What can I expect after the 1st 24 hours after the peel?

Your skin will feel tighter and be more red then usual. Your skin may feel tacky and have a yellowish-orange tinge that subsides in a few hours. This is due to the Retinoic acid applied to the skin. This is a self-neutralizing peel and patients should wait at least 4 hours before washing their face that evening.

Q: When will my skin start to peel and for how long?

Peeling will generally start 48-72 hours after your treatment and can last 2-5 days. It is very important not to pick off peeling skin; peeling is minimal and easily controlled with moisturizer. Premature peeling of the skin will result in dry, cracked, raw skin that may develop into hyperpigmentation.

Q: May I exercise after the peel?

Exercise that produces a lot of heavy sweating should be avoided on the day of the peel. You may resume all regular activities the next day.

Q: How do I care for my skin after the peel?

Use of a soap-free gentle cleanser shall be used to wash your face, scrubs and washcloths should be avoided while the skin is peeling. The application of a hydrating moisturizer twice a day or as often as necessary is recommended to relieve dryness and control peeling. TNS ceramide cream, Elta intense moisturizer, or Neocutis bio cream are all highly suggested. A physical Sunblock must be worn daily. It’s best to avoid prolonged sun exposure for 1 week post-peel.



The VI peel combines the strongest and most effective acids suitable for all skin types. It is a blended peel formulated with Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), Salicylic acid, Retinoic acid, Phenol, and Vitamin C. This is a great peel for treating hyperpigmentation, aging skin, and acne.

Q: How many Vi peels will I need, and how far apart should they be done?

A single peel will add a healthy glow, improving skin tone, texture, and clarity. It reduces or eliminates hyperpigmentation and sunspots and softens fine lines and wrinkles. The number of treatments varies by individual needs and conditions and will be determined by our medical aesthetician. For extremely damaged skin, the VI peel can be done once a month for quicker results. For most patients 2-3 VI peels a year is all you need to maintain your results. Maintaining a proper skincare regime between peels will ensure the best duration of your results.

Q: How is the VI Precision peel different from a regular Vi peel?

The Precision peel is made from the same blend of acids at a higher concentration, an added booster of Retinoic acid is added to the VI peel for the treatment of stubborn hyperpigmentation including melasma, age spots on hands, arms or chest., Keratosis pilaris.

Q: What will I look like right after the Vi peel and how much will I peel?

Your skin will look slightly tan or bronzed immediately after the peel due to the retinoic acid. This fads within the hour. Over the next few days, your skin will feel tighter, and any pigmented areas may appear slightly darker at first. Skin peeling usually begins by day 3, it’s a light fluffy peeling and is easily controlled with moisturizer. In some cases, the peel is virtually invisible. Patients on Retin-A may experience heavier peeling. By day 6 or 7 you will be done peeling and your skin will look amazing.

Q: Are there any restrictions on activities after the Vi peel?

We recommend avoiding heavy sweating for the first few days after the peel. Normal activities may be resumed immediately after the peel. It’s advisable to keep sun exposure to a minimum when skin is peeling. SPF is required daily.

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