This cosmetic procedure was once associated with people seeking to recapture a youthful appearance. Now, chemical peels are now a common part of facial exfoliating regimen for many adults. You can purchase some chemical peel lotions without a prescription, but you'll need to consult with a doctor to buy others. Certain chemical peel treatments are so powerful that only dermatologists or skin care professionals can administer them in their offices.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are contained in the gentlest types of chemical peels. AHAs help treat mild wrinkling, pigmentation or acne issues. Your doctor or aesthetician may advise you to mix AHA with your daily facial cleanser and apply it once a week.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is the main ingredient in medium-strength chemical peels, and it helps reduce fine surface wrinkles and some blemishes. A TCA treatment takes about 15 minutes, after which most people can immediately resume normal activities. For deep, dramatic results, some people get phenol treatments. Phenol removes freckles, deep wrinkles and precancerous growths. But once you get this type of chemical peel, you'll have to take special precautions, such as limiting the time you spend in the sun. Furthermore, it may take months for your skin to heal and for you to get back to your typical daily schedule -- and skin care regimen [source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons].