Meet the Expert-Loved At-Home Chemical Peels That Fade Dark Spots and Minimize Pores

acid chemical peels
Chemical Peels for Smooth, Radiant Skinthomas hengge

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

As a beauty editor dealing with hyperpigmentation, one of the best-kept industry treatments my peers and I rely on is getting a professional chemical peel. They are an amazing secret weapon to battle a myriad of skin issues, including brightening a dull complexion, sloughing off dead skin cells, and getting a healthy, refreshed glow in just a matter of minutes.

While brands such as Epionce and PCA Skin provide excellent pro-grade treatments, sometimes you want something milder that you can apply from the comfort of your bathroom. Plus, effective, professional chemical peel treatments conducted by an esthetician can be costly, and I fully understand that these luxuries may not fit your budget. Enter my editor-approved at-home chemical peels that are available to shop on your most trusted sites, including Amazon and Dermstore. These affordable at-home alternatives can get you similar spa results for less than the price of one professional peel.

The Best At-Home Chemical Peels

What to Consider

Before you go playing spa day at home, it's essential to research to ensure you aren't doing more harm than good to your precious skin. Luckily for you, I have seven years of reporting experience — from NBC News, CNN, and Billboard, to name a few — and carefully researched the essential attributes to consider when shopping for chemical peels. To help further demystify chemical peels, I asked skincare experts to share their guidance.

What Is a Chemical Peel? And Why Is It Essential?

You likely already know the importance of good exfoliation and probably have a face scrub (or dozen) on rotation at home. A chemical peel takes the buffing process a step further. It's a chemical solution that is applied to your face to help remove the top layer of skin. It helps soften wrinkles, fade discoloration, and minimize scars, according to Mayo Clinic.

When you incorporate chemical peels into your skincare routine, you'll reveal a much brighter and smoother complexion when compared to a face scrub. Chemical peels also help unearth oil and dirt trapped inside your pores, making it an enticing option for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. Plus, removing dead skin cells has the added benefit of helping your products absorb deeper, says celebrity esthetician Shani Darden.

Types of At-Home Chemical Peels

According to double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Amir Karam, M.D., an at-home chemical peel falls into one of two categories based on its ingredients:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as lactic and glycolic acids, improve overall skin tone and discoloration.

  • Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid can penetrate deep into your pores and hair follicles to help unclog them. These are great for anyone with acne-prone or oily skin.

Chemical Peel Safety Tips

  • Do follow the directions to a T, or you might damage your skin. When done incorrectly, chemical peels can cause burns and scarring, cautions Karam. He says taking matters into your own hands is a common but costly rookie mistake. For example, if the directions say only use two passes and you use more product than necessary, you can damage multiple layers of your skin.

  • Don't mix chemical peels on your own. Seriously, it's just not worth it because doing so can lead to an unwanted chemical reaction, argues Karam. The only exception is if a reputable company pre-mixed the solution for you.

Sensitive Skin and Chemical Peels

Yes, you can use a chemical peel if you have sensitive skin, but consider a peel that's made with milder chemicals like lactic and mandelic acids, says Amir.

  • Lactic acid is handy when you want to shrink the appearance of large pores and fade dark spots.

  • Mandelic acid is the most gentle form of AHA, making it ideal for sensitive skin. It's also helpful for lightening mild dark spots.

  • Enzymes are great when you want a gentle exfoliation and are derived from fruits and vegetables like pineapple, papaya, and pumpkin.

How We Chose

A chemical peel is an excellent way to exfoliate your skin. It can help fade any imperfections you want to fix, like congested pores, acne, hyperpigmentation, and even wrinkles. However, using one requires some discipline, like sticking to the directions provided with your kit. If you're ready to reveal glowing, baby-soft skin, consider adding one of these chemical peels to your online shopping cart before they sell out.

Thomas Hengge
Thomas Hengge

Beyond considering the above factors, our team got first-hand testing experience with these at-home chemical peels. I also included suggestions from board-certified doctors and celebrity skincare experts. Plus, I carefully researched dozens of picks and read hundreds of online reviews to ensure they're aligned with our shopping guidance. For added comfort, I found some fantastic, top-rated chemical peels created by well-respected industry professionals, including a dermatologist, celebrity esthetician, and cosmetic chemist.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Looking for a chemical peel under $10 to rejuvenate your complexion? Enter our best overall chemical peel recommendation that's gentle on your wallet, but doesn't skimp on visible results.

It earned this coveted distinction because The Ordinary's Peeling Solution our former parenting editor Latifah Miles, says it's totally worth the hype. “The Ordinary Peeling Solution is an invaluable addition to my skincare routine that my face absolutely needs,” she says. Miles adds, “This product will give me the glow that my skin is craving right now.”

Notably, it contains a whopping 30% AHA treatment plus 2% BHA to give your skin a powerful, chemically exfoliating treatment. This effective skincare product goes deep into pores to suck out any grime and impurities, giving you an instantly tighter and brighter complexion.

More: Why Our Beauty Editor Can't Live Without These Skin Care Tech Devices

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution</p><p></p><p>$9.50</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel

With 50% lactic acid, this is one of the highest concentrations you can purchase to use at home. This potent alpha-hydroxy acid is most helpful for sun-damaged, aging skin.

Paired with kojic acid, this powerful chemical peel diffuses the appearance of melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne, age spots, freckles, and other discolorations.

Amazon reviewers, including an esthetician with a decade of experience, say this hydrating gel formula works wonders minus redness or irritation. This skincare pro says they even use it on their clients and at home.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel</p><p></p><p>$29.95</p>

Shop Now

Lactic Acid 50% Gel Peel


The Microdelivery Peel

This two-step, at-home chemical peel by Philosophy resurfaces and rejuvenates aging skin simultaneously. Unlike most other peels out there, this one also delivers peptides and vitamin C to the skin while it's being rapidly exfoliated. It's also infused with lactic and salicylic acid, plus sunflower seed oil to counteract any potential dryness.

Dozens of Amazon reviewers say it's the hands-down best pick on the market for exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. Reviewers with sensitive skin add it doesn't irritate their skin.

As a bonus, it smells like light and refreshing oranges.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>The Microdelivery Peel</p><p></p><p>$79.00</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

Universal Triple Action Daily Peel

Why settle for just any chemical peel when you can use one created by a trusted skincare professional? Award-winning cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson has over 20 years of industry experience, helped Hailey Bieber create Rhode Skincare, and launched his own line BeautyStat.

Unlike harsh chemical peels, Universal Triple Action Daily Peel doesn't need a neutralizer. Instead, the one-step, triple-action at-home peel helps visibly improve dark spots, dullness, and rough spots with ingredients, like n-acetyl glucosamine, coleus barbatus, and a blend of antioxidant-rich purple teas.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Universal Triple Action Daily Peel</p><p></p><p>$29.00</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

Triple Acid Signature Peel

Speaking of beauty brands founded by industry professionals, Shani Darden Skin Care was founded by the longtime esthetician to Kelly Rowland and Shay Mitchell.

Darden's Triple Acid Signature Peel recently launched and earned major snaps from Sephora reviewers for its ability to reveal a smooth, luminous complexion. Not only does 9% lactic acid help fade sun and age spots, but it also helps soften fine lines and minimizes the appearance of large pores.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Triple Acid Signature Peel</p><p></p><p>$125.00</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel

Want a chemical peel but want to avoid overwhelming smells? Enter Glytone, a derm-loved skincare brand that created a fragrance-free chemical peel.

You'll love that it doesn't contain smells that can irritate a sensitive nose, plus it is made with impactful ingredients that help retexturize rough skin. Most notably, there's an impressive 10.8% concentration of glycolic acid, which removes the top layer of dead skin cells. So if you're dealing with dark spots, acne, acne scars, or aging skin then this is a wonderful selection adored by dozens of online reviewers.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel</p><p></p><p>$65.00</p>

Shop Now

Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel


Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Peel

Neutrogena is one of the best drugstore skincare brands in the game. Their products often come suggested by dermatologists I interview, and their sunscreens are some of the best affordable sun protective products in the game.

The brand created a chemical peel that is so gentle that it can be worn overnight. While that would normally set off red flags in my mind, upon further research, this chemical peel contains hyaluronic acid to prevent any potential irritation and dehydration.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Peel</p><p></p><p>$16.59</p>

Shop Now

Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Peel


Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel

Paula's Choice has amassed a cult-like following across the beauty sphere, including Amazon reviewers who have shared major praise for this hero product. This chemical peel contains 2% salicylic acid, making it a dream solution for those dealing with acne-prone skin, large, congested pores, and blackheads. There's also a 25% concentration of an AHA blend that refines rough texture and decongests in just 10 minutes. Amazon reviewers love that it can be used once weekly — a happy medium for experiencing visible results without irritation, like redness or dryness. They also praise its ability to shrink the look of pores.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel</p><p></p><p>$44.00</p>

Shop Now

Skin Perfecting 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel


T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

This at-home chemical peel from Drunk Elephant — adored by both editors and consumers alike — is packed with an impressive 25% alpha-hydroxy acid and 2% beta-hydroxy acid formula that works to resurface your skin.

This product blends both exfoliating acids harmoniously, and it's one of the best at-home chemical peels in the game. Just glide on this smooth gel for about 20 minutes, rinse away, and enjoy your freshly exfoliated skin.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial</p><p></p><p>$80.00</p>

Phyto Peeling Gel Mask

I have been using this lightweight peel on her oily skin since 2018 and consider it a gentle and effective skin brightener for special occasions.

What I enjoy most about this light peel is that it only takes three minutes to help brighten my face and enhance my glow. It's something I like to pop on before going out with friends to ensure my skin is smooth and glowing before applying makeup.

It smells like citrus, thanks to its combination of three fruit acids — most notably glycolic acid — which helps exfoliate dead skin cells.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Phyto Peeling Gel Mask</p><p></p><p>$74.00</p>

Shop Now

Phyto Peeling Gel Mask


Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel (35-Pack)

Dr. Dennis Gross' at-home chemical peel system gives you both the chemical exfoliants and a neutralizer to keep your skin from freaking out.

“I like the concept of the packets because if you use it exactly how it’s directed, it’s very hard to cause any issue,” says Karam.

Darden recommends using these once or twice a week, depending on your skin condition and the other products you’re using.

Not only do skin professionals enjoy these chemical peels, but so does our team. "I try new products on my face daily, and this is the only one where I've ever seen immediate improvement," says former beauty editor Ashley Phillips.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel (35-Pack)</p><p></p><p>$92.00</p>

HydroPeptide 5X Power Peel

Just because you have ultra-sensitive skin doesn't mean you can't enjoy a resurfacing chemical peel every now and then. Instead of the more intense formulas, try opting for this gentle option from HydroPeptide.

What truly makes this chemical peel stand out is its integration of red and green tea, which work hand-in-hand to nurture your skin, prevent redness, and soothe inflammation.

Dermstore reviewers gush over this gentle at-home chemical peel because it's a fantastic skin treatment for controlling excessively oily and acne-prone skin. Others appreciate that there is zero downtown when using this product, so they won't have to worry about looking red before a first date.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>HydroPeptide 5X Power Peel</p><p></p><p>$69.00</p>

Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream

You no longer have to be intimidated by retinol. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Snehal Amin, M.D, of MDCS in NYC, says his favorite at-home peeling method is to apply a classic Retin-A cream. He considers it an entry-level retinol and a great starter peel agent.

This non-comedogenic product also contains skin-calming bisabolol and is formulated without pesky fragrances or parabens.

The brand suggests those with oily, combination, or normal skin types use this retinol. If you have sensitive or dry skin, you'll be better off trying a different product on our list.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream</p><p></p><p>$80.00</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel

If you’re looking for a slightly more powerful at-home chemical peel, let me introduce you to these overnight peels from Goop Beauty by Gwyneth Paltrow. They contain a whopping 15% glycolic acid to remove just about every piece of dirt and grime from your pores. Plus, they’re infused with hyaluronic acid, so your skin won't ever dry out or get irritated.

Sephora shoppers say this glycolic acid-packed peel improves their skin texture and adds a welcome glow factor. One reviewer adds there's enough product on each pad to use on the face, décolletage, and even arms.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel</p><p></p><p>$125.00</p>

That's Incredi-Peel Pads

Another highly coveted option for those who prefer their chemical peels in pad form, Bliss’ Incredi-Peel packs a serious punch. These pads allow you to take the Bliss Spa home with you, as each one gradually releases glycolic acid overnight to target fine lines and imperfections for smoother, brighter skin by morning.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>That's Incredi-Peel Pads</p><p></p><p>$25.00</p><span class="copyright">Thomas Hengge</span>

Liquid ExfoliKate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment

Kate Sommerville has recently formulated its best-selling physical exfoliator into a liquid version. This nighttime, at-home chemical peel uses a triple blend of glycolic, malic, and lactic acids to deeply exfoliate your pores. It also boasts a potent combo of fruit enzymes to help dissolve dead skin cells, leaving you with a radiant and even-toned complexion.

One Ulta reviewer has relied on this chemical peel for two years because they noticed a vast improvement in their pore size, skin brightness, and general healthier appearance. Another with eczema-prone skin and acne scars experienced visible results in just two days. "When I wake up in the morning, my skin looks so amazing! My eczema doesn't flare up at all, and it doesn't cause any redness. I'm in love," says their 5-star review.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Liquid ExfoliKate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment</p><p></p><p>$68.00</p>

The Post-Procedure Solution Kit

Whether you opt for an at-home chemical peel or an in-office treatment, sometimes, your skin can go through some less-than-lovely situations (think flakiness, redness, and dryness) after such an intensely clarifying process.

That's why I use this post-peel kit from PCA Skin after professional treatments. It includes just about everything necessary for your skin to recover smoothly while restoring skin health, protecting your complexion, and speeding up the healing process.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>The Post-Procedure Solution Kit</p><p></p><p>$40.00</p>

The Shortcut Overnight Facial Peel

Would you rather snooze while transforming your skin? Well, clearer complexions are just one dream away, thanks to this nifty overnight peel from Versed. It contains vitamin A, lactic acid, and glycolic acid to give your skin a jumpstart overnight. Plus it’s vegan and fragrance-free, making it ideal for sensitive skin types.

Need further proof Versed's chemical peel is legit? One reviewer with sensitive skin has used this product for nearly two years. "Whenever I see any texture or pimple coming I throw this on over night and the next morning my skin is smooth," says their 5-star review.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>The Shortcut Overnight Facial Peel</p><p></p><p>$9.99</p>

TCA Lactic & Glycolic Body Peel

Body acne is as real as it gets, and when the going gets tough on our shoulders, back, and butt, we whip out this intense body treatment.

Think of it as a chemical peel but for the neck down. It has a five-acid formula to target all of your acne and texture woes. Plus, it also brightens dark spots and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles. Sensitive skin types can indulge without worry because this body peel was formulated to gently soothe skin ailments like eczema.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>TCA Lactic & Glycolic Body Peel</p><p></p><p>$109.00</p>

Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask

If you're a fan of clean, all-natural products, then this clay mask is perfect for refining your complexion. It has willow bark extract, which contains all-natural BHAs to help slough off any impurities lingering in your skin.

Plus, pink clay and pomegranate enzymes work to give your skin a fully refreshed and cleansed feel, along with tighter, smaller pores. Sephora reviewers argue it's worth the splurge because this chemical peel lives up to its promises. Many add it is also fantastic for anyone looking for instant gratification with immediate results. So if you're prepping for a major milestone event, this is a handy option.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask</p><p></p><p>$68.00</p>


At-Home Versus In-Office Chemical Peels

Amin highlights that it is possible to achieve skin-brightening exfoliation with an at-home chemical peel, although they likely won't be as potent or fast-acting as an in-office peel procedure. Why? An in-office chemical peel has a higher concentration level of chemicals that are better able to penetrate deeper into the skin.

But don’t lose hope and think that you’ll only see real results from an in-office treatment. Amin notes that at-home peels “can definitely help to improve skin tone and texture, and reduce breakouts and pigmentation,” but you’ll want to avoid over-exfoliation. He also says that it’s equally important to apply the peel as directed to avoid potential mishaps.

Dr. Dennis Gross, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of his namesake skincare line, adds that more doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to at-home chemical peels.

“Don’t overdo it,” he insists. “There is a limit to what is useful, beneficial, or safe, and just know that you want to match your skin type." He says it's also a good idea to pick a product with a lower concentration of glycolic acid to avoid any mishaps.

Post-Care 101

Taking care of your skin after a chemical peel is fairly simple. Here are a couple of key tips from the pros.

Hydration: When your skin is well-moisturized, it'll recover more quickly, according to Karam.

Sunscreen is a power move all year long, but slathering it on is especially important after a chemical peel, says Karam. (We previously covered all things sunscreen, ranging from face sunscreens and spray sunscreens to mineral sunscreens and tinted sunscreens.)

black line break
Hearst Owned

You Might Also Like