Skincare-Acid Glossary—Your Guide to Common Acids

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If you recall the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha gets an in-office peel and Carrie says her face looks like beef carpaccio, you might be hesitant about a chemical peel. However, there’s no need to worry—in-office chemical peels are safe and effective.

“The main difference between a home acid treatment and a professional-strength one is the concentration of the acid itself,” says Zeichner. “The higher the concentration, the more potent the treatment. Professional, in-office acid treatments penetrate deeper into the skin, giving a more robust peel.” These peels work well, but given their deeper penetration, they can also run more risks. This is why it’s important to have them done by a medical professional.

At-home and in-office treatments also vary depending on how often you’d like to do each. “Ideally, the acids incorporated into your daily skincare routine are effective in terms of gentle skin exfoliation but mild enough to be used daily or a few times per week,” says Libby Rhee, DO, MS, FAAD, Ro’s dermatologist in residence. “In-office peels are great for more intense skin peeling to really jump-start or intensify your skin-rejuvenation goals. I like to think of in-office treatments like high-yield training sessions with a trainer and the home skincare routine as your regular workouts to keep increasing your gains.”

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