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Chemical Peels & Black Skin

author image Chris Passas
Chris Passas is a freelance writer from Nags Head, N.C. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has written online instructional articles since September 2009.
Chemical Peels & Black Skin
African American skin can be delicate. Photo Credit Jani Bryson/iStock/Getty Images

Performing chemical peels on black skin can be a delicate process because of the risks of discoloration and scarring. A chemical peel can be used on the face, back, chest, neck, hands or arms as a treatment for acne, blemishes, dark marks and wrinkles. It can also help exfoliate clogged pores, even the skin tone, smooth the texture of the skin or minimize the appearance of large pores.


Consult a dermatologist to determine the proper treatment for your skin. A dermatologist will help individually formulate a chemical peel based on your desired result and your current pigmentation. Some states do not require an individual to hold a medical degree to perform a chemical peel while other states may require that only a physician can apply strong concentrations of chemicals such as those used in a deep chemical peel. Ensure that only a qualified health care professional with experience caring for black skin administers the chemical peel.

Light Chemical Peels

A majority of chemical peeling agents are safe for use on black skin. Chemical agents for light peels include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, fruit acid, lactic acid and 15 to 20 percent trichloroacetic acid. Optimum results of these peels appear after between four and six chemical peel procedures.

Deep Chemical Peels

Chemical peeling agents such as Obagi Blue, phenol and 35 percent trichloroacetic acid penetrate deeper into the skin and should be used with caution on black skin, warns Dr. Susan Taylor's BrownSkin.net. Deep chemical peels strip the epidermal layer of the skin -- similar to skinning your knee -- and require two weeks to heal. Skin can sometimes appear several shades darker than your normal complexion after healing.


A chemical peel procedure can take between 10 minutes and two hours depending on the depth of the treatment. A dermatologist applies the chemical peel solution using a brush, cotton pad or sponge. You may feel a slight burning, itching or stinging sensation when the chemicals are on your skin. The dermatologist may use a fan or apply cold compresses to reduce these sensations. You will receive a spray of neutralizing solution or water after the chemical peel to rinse the chemicals from your skin. An after-peel cream is essential after the procedure to protect skin. Use sunscreen on the affected area because of the increased sensitivity of your skin after the chemical peel.


Side effects of a chemical peel include crusting, dark patches, dryness, flaking, irritation, redness and scabbing on the treated area. Chemical peels that penetrate deeper into the skin can cause swelling and put you at risk of abnormal pigmentation, infection and scarring. Your dermatologist may recommend an alphahydroxyacid or fruit acid cleanser, cream or lotion to help maintain smoothness and brightness of the treated area and to fade blemishes and dark marks.

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