Whipping up your very own chemical peel at home may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually a relatively easy and cost-effective way to give your skin a big-time boost.
Just like the more expensive varieties performed by skincare professionals, do-it-yourself (DIY) chemical peels also provide a slew of beautifying benefits.
While there are many chemical peels to choose from, here we share the recipe for some of the best DIY chemical peels that you can try at-home.
How do chemical peels work?
Chemical peels work by exfoliating dead skin cells and eventually causing the top dermal layers to peel off, effectively leaving behind new skin that looks bright and feels soft and supple. By simultaneously cleaning pores while moisturizing the skin, chemical peels are a fast and relatively gentle way to give your skin a nourishing boost.
Although the phrase “chemical peel” might sound harsh, these homemade facials generally only use natural chemicals — naturally-derived acids, antioxidants, and moisturizers — to rejuvenate the skin.
They aid in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, acne scars, and enlarged pores while simultaneously evening the skin out and treating dark spots.
This article is geared towards helping you find the perfect do-it-yourself facial chemical peel for your own unique skin issues, whether that be a gentle DIY chemical peel to reinvigorate your skin’s turnover rate, or just something to correct frustrating wrinkles and uneven skin.
Tailoring your chemical peel to your skin type
Depending on the type of chemical peel and the ingredients you choose to add, you can customize your peel to suit your individual skincare issues. Most DIY chemical peels are suitable for acne scars as the active ingredients resurface the top layers of the skin, thereby reducing their appearance.
You can also make a homemade chemical peel to address dark spots by adding certain key ingredients like glycolic acid, which help even out and brighten the skin. Other recipes are better for removing dead skin on the feet, elbows, and legs.
In order to craft a chemical cocktail that suits your own personal needs, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients commonly added to homemade peels.
- Glycolic acid — Found in everything from cane sugar to sour cream, glycolic acid is a key ingredient in many peels, especially homemade chemical peels for exfoliation. This acid sloughs away the top layers of the skin for a refreshing, rejuvenated result. Glycolic acid is also found in yogurt, vinegar, apples, blackberries, and a wide variety of citrus fruits — including lemons, limes and grapefruits. It’s easy availability makes it a go-to choice to add to your own at-home concoctions.
- Antioxidants — Antioxidants have been proven to be highly beneficial to the skin, and they’re also easy to incorporate into your DIY chemical peel with ingredients found in the grocery store. You can craft chemical fruit peels with citrus juice and berry extracts in order to provide your skin with a natural antioxidant boost. For a powerful homemade chemical peel, lemon juice or another antioxidant-rich citrus can help cleanse and rejuvenate. Add extra antioxidants if you’re looking for a homemade chemical peel for melasma, acne, or irritated skin.
- Natural moisturizers — There are all kinds of gentle, all-natural ingredients that you can use to add hydration to your homemade peel. We recommend implementing avocado, honey, or egg whites into your peels for a simple way to moisturize and ensure that the exfoliating ingredients don’t draw out too much hydration.
- Aspirin — This over-the-counter analgesic is commonly added to DIY chemical facial peels in order to provide a boost of salicylic acid, which helps encourage the shedding of the outer layer of skin while providing an effective treatment for acne and psoriasis, among a variety of other skin conditions. You can easily dissolve uncoated aspirin tablets in water and crush them using the back of a spoon to add them to your DIY peels.
- Lemon — A natural source of antioxidants, lemon juice is a common additive in a wide variety of homemade facial peels. As you may know, lemon also has lightening properties, which makes it a popular ingredient for skin care masks, peels and products aimed at correcting age spots. Lemon and other citrus juices are quite acidic, they have high pH levels, so for safest results they should be combined with neutralizers, like baking soda.
- Baking soda — With its alkaline nature, baking soda can be used as a neutralizer in your homemade chemical peel, ensuring that the acids found in other ingredients — especially citrus juice — don’t dry out or damage your skin.
DIY chemical peel for wrinkles: the egg white peel
- 1 egg white
- ½ cup de-seeded cucumber pulp
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
This DIY chemical peel recipe is very simple. All you have to do is beat one egg white and mix it with cucumber pulp. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well, creating a spreadable paste.
Apply the finished product to your face and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with water. The combination of egg whites — which naturally smooths wrinkles — and cucumbers will help de-wrinkle and moisturize the skin at once.
DIY chemical peel for dry skin: the AHA chemical peel
- ¼ cup white cane sugar
- ¼ cup yogurt
This homemade glycolic acid peel is a great option for those with dry, itchy, irritated skin. The cane sugar provides natural exfoliation while the yogurt helps to restore hydration. Try this nourishing option as a DIY chemical peel for dark spots, as the natural glycolic acid helps to even out the skin.
To make the AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) peel, mix the cane sugar and yogurt until you have a slightly granulated paste. Use your fingers to apply the mask to your face, avoiding the eye area. Let the peel rest on your face for ten to 15 minutes before wiping it away with a towel and cool water.
DIY chemical peel for oily skin: the BHA chemical peel
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup water
- 12 uncoated aspirin tablets
- Lemon juice
With this homemade chemical peel, aspirin delivers salicylic acid to wash away excess oil and encourage natural hydration. The baking soda acts as your homemade chemical peel neutralizer, which works against the acid of the lemon juice.
To make the BHA (beta hydroxy acid) peel, combine the baking soda with the water in a bowl and set the mixture aside. Place the aspirin in a shallow dish and sprinkle the lemon juice over the aspirin. Use the backside of a spoon to crush the aspirin into the lemon juice, creating a thick paste.
Use your fingers to spread the peel over your face, avoiding the eyes. Let it sit until dry, about ten minutes, and then wipe it off with a cotton ball soaked with the baking soda mixture.
DIY chemical peel for feet: the aspirin foot peel
- 12 uncoated aspirin tablets
- Lemon juice
- A thick moisturizer
Much like the BHA chemical peel, this concoction utilizes aspirin as a source of salicylic acid. To make the mixture, place the non-coated aspirin tablets in a bowl while you soak your feet in hot water for about 20 minutes. Before allowing the aspirin to completely dissolve, pour the juice of one lemon over the aspirin and mix it into a thick paste.
Dry off your feet before applying the paste all over them. Then, wrap your feet in plastic bags with plastic wrap. Leave the mixture on for two hours or more. Once the time is up, rinse your feet and dry them well. Finish the treatment with a layer of thick, hydrating lotion. We recommend this homemade chemical peel for legs, ankles, and feet.
DIY chemical peel for acne scars: apple cider vinegar peel
- 1 teaspoon organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon applesauce
Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a natural way to diminish the appearance of acne scars, since it removes dead skin cells and helps regenerate the top layers of the skin. To make this corrective facial mask, simply combine the apple cider vinegar with the applesauce and stir well until fully combined.
Apply the mixture to your face and let it sit for ten to 15 minutes before thoroughly removing it with a soft cloth and water.
DIY chemical peel for sensitive skin: cucumber and tea peel
- 1 cup green tea
- 1 cup chamomile tea
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 4 ounces of water
Irritated, itchy, and dry skin gets love with this unique facial peel. The green tea calms irritated skin, while the cucumber provides ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which can soothe skin irritations and help reduce swelling.
To make this mask, steep the chamomile and green teas together in approximately 4 oz (100ml) of water and add the unflavored gelatin. Blend a cucumber until it resembles the consistency of a paste, and add the cucumber juice to the tea and gelatin mixture.
Before applying to your face, allow the mix to cool in the refrigerator for about a half an hour to thicken up. Apply to your face for between 15 and 20 minutes, or until it completely dries, and then peel off the mask using warm water.
At-Home Chemical Peels and Alternatives: Top Products
If you are looking for a more efficient alternative to homemade peels, you may choose one of the many readymade chemical peels for at-home use.
Some of the top peel products are only available for use by licensed medical professionals and these products should never be used at home. However, many of the makers of these popular peels also offer at-home solutions for your skin care needs.
Here is a list of the top at-home chemical peels for 2019, as well as some alternatives.
QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel
Using glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid), this solution provides a superficial to medium chemical peel at home. This solution also uses green tea and chamomile extract for an added antioxidant boost. Like other chemical peels, this treatment can tackle fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Each bottle of QRxLabs’ Glycolic Acid 50% Gel Peel holds up to 20 peel treatments.
Perfect Image Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel
Combining glycolic acid, green tea extract, retinol, and cucumber extract, this peel is ideal for those dealing with signs of aging. Each bottle provides 15 to 20 superficial peels. Perfect Image’s peel is not tested on animals and uses sustainable raw materials.
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
Though their Vitalize and Illuminize Peels are only available in clinic, HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator brings SkinMedica’s skin care experience home. This treatment uses five types of hyaluronic acid, as well as vitis flower stem cell extract, to help smooth and hydrate skin. This hydrator should be applied twice per day for optimal results.
SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense
SkinCeuticals — the makers of Advanced Corrective Peel — offer Blemish + Age Defense as an effective at-home treatment option. This product’s key ingredient is salicylic acid, a component in many superficial chemical peels. Blemish + Age Defense balances skin tone and fights acne by keeping pores clear.
Forever Flawless Diamond Infused Exfoliator
If you’re looking for a more gentle approach to skin rejuvenation, exfoliation is a great alternative to chemical peels. Forever Flawless’ Diamond Infused Exfoliator is a popular exfoliator that uses extra-fine diamond powder to remove dead skin. The exfoliator cleans out pores to provide a smooth and acne free face