Can Chemical Peels Treat Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots?

Chemical Peels for Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

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Dark spots are all too common nowadays, especially with the amount of sun exposure we get on a daily basis. In fact, they’ve become so common that many of us see them as a normal part of being human, much like stretch marks, skin aging, or a bad case of menstrual cramps (we feel you, ladies!). And while it is true that we cannot avoid the sun completely, there is a solution that may help address those stubborn spots: Chemical peels!

This type of cosmetic treatment gives a whole new meaning to the age-old saying: Out with the old, in with the new. Simply put: It gets rid of your old skin cells to make room for a fresh layer of smoother, brighter skin. And that includes dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and all the common culprits of dull skin.

Now, we understand how unappealing the term may sound, and truth be told, it will lead to peeling – lots of it! But contrary to how our imagination may make it seem, it is actually more refreshing and rejuvenating than you think.

Allow us to put your hesitations to rest through this article. We let you in on all the amazing things a chemical peel treatment can do for your dark spots – how it works and what to expect. And when you’re ready to book your treatment with us, our skin therapists at Lovoir Skin Body & Beauty are just a click or call away! Until then, we hope this article helps you out.

What Causes Dark Spots on the Face?

Seeking the right beauty treatment starts by understanding what causes your dark spots in the first place. In one word: Melanin. It is a naturally-occurring pigment in our bodies whose primary role is the color of our skin, hair, and eyes. As science would have it, we are all born with the same number of melanocytes, the special cells that produce these melanin pigments. However, the amount we produce varies per person. For people with light-colored hair, skin, or eyes, the less melanin they produce, and vice versa. Ideally, all is well in the world so long as we keep producing melanin in regular amounts. But in reality, certain factors can trigger an excessive production, and unfortunately for us, these are things we are susceptible to throughout our life. 

Sun exposure, hormonal changes, and skin wounds are the most common factors that cause our melanin pigments to go haywire, leading to a whole slew of skin problems often referred to as hyperpigmentation – dark spots, age spots, sun spots, and anything else caused by an overproduction of pigment. Here’s why: While melanin is most associated with skin color, it is also tasked to protect our skin cells against external damage.

What Causes Dark Spots On Face?

Sun Exposure

In the case of sun exposure, melanin protects our skin against harmful UV rays, which naturally manifests as developing a tan or a darker skin tone. But when our skin becomes vulnerable from too much exposure, the process of melanin migration goes wrong, forcing them to gather in clumps. Thus, the appearance of dark spots, patches, and even freckles!

Acne and Wounds

In a similar manner, when our skin is harmed by wounds, cuts, or acne, melanin works to protect us from inflammation, thus leading to dark scars around the affected area.


For age spots, on the other hand, melanin production has little to do with protection. On the contrary, it actually works in tandem with our skin’s natural aging process. We experience hormonal imbalances in our body, and although it is not exactly clear why, specific hormones like estrogen and progesterone stimulate the production of more melanin. However, keep in mind that not all age spots are caused by these hormonal changes. It can also be due to sun exposure through the years or, in rare cases, a more internal health issue.

All that said, while dark spots may look unsightly on the outside, they are also proof of melanin’s attempt to protect us! Topical skincare products like sunscreen, scar gels, and anti-aging creams will definitely help prevent dark spots from developing as our skin reacts to different factors. But more often than not, corrective solutions are still needed, and that’s where chemical peels enter the picture.

What are Chemical Peels?

A chemical facial peel is a cosmetic procedure that involves a chemical solution made up of enzymes and skin-friendly acids. Depending on the skin issue you want to address, it is customised with ingredients at specific concentrations to offer various skin benefits. Essentially, it performs a deep exfoliation on your skin, removing dead skin cells and encouraging new cells to come to the surface. As a result, it gets rid of uneven skin tone and skin texture problems for overall smoother, more even, and younger-looking skin.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on how it helps with hyperpigmentation and dark spots, but if you’re struggling with other skin concerns, you can read up on our other articles below!

Best Chemical Peel for Hyperpigmentation & Dark Spots

For dark spots and certain levels of hyperpigmentation, finding the best chemical peel treatment will depend on how dark, deep, and severe your skin discolouration is. While some aim to lighten dark spots, more potent chemical peels work to completely remove deep-rooted pigmentation from skin conditions like melasma. Whatever your skin goal is, the chemical solution used should consider these two important aspects based on your skin condition: (1) The ingredients used, and (2) their strength. Here’s everything you need to know!

Chemical Peel Acids for Hyperpigmentation

Much like home-cooked meals, the success of a chemical peel greatly lies in the ingredients used. Depending on what is best for your skin type and problem, a chemical peel treatment can solely focus on one specific acid or can be applied as layers of several acids. Below are some of the best acid ingredients used in chemical peels for dark spots.

Chemical Peel Acids

Salicylic acid peel for hyperpigmentation

If you’ve read our article about salicylic acid, then you know how amazing this skincare ingredient is for battling acne, clogged pores, and skin discolouration. Apart from its exfoliating properties being a big help in sloughing off dark patches of skin, it is also anti-inflammatory. That makes it a good solution against acne scars both in tone and texture. Our favorite fun fact about salicylic acid is its oil solubility! This allows it to get deep inside our dirt-filled pores, clearing out any bacteria that may be causing our skin impurities, and consequently, our uneven complexion.

  • Professional chemical peels (light t0 medium): 10% to 30% concentration depending on your skin condition
  • Possible side effects: Mild to moderate dryness, redness, itchiness, and irritation depending on the concentration and strength of the peel

Glycolic acid peel for hyperpigmentation

Glycolic Acid is a popular skincare ingredient most of you are probably familiar with, especially under the term alpha-hydroxy acid. It is mostly found in exfoliant products given its ability to reduce acne, wrinkles, rough patches, and dark spots. Basically, skin renewal in a bottle! A glycolic acid peel is particularly powerful in addressing hyperpigmentation issues in both corrective and preventive battlefronts. It can slow down melanin production at the cellular level – that is if you stay loyal to chemical peels and seek regular (but safely spaced out!) treatments.

  • Professional chemical peels (light to medium): 20% to 50% concentration depending on your skin condition
  • Possible side effects: Mild to moderate dryness, redness, itchiness, and irritation depending on the concentration and strength of the peel

Lactic acid peel for hyperpigmentation

Lactic Acid is another ingredient belonging to the alpha-hydroxy acid family, although a less popular sibling of Glycolic Acid. Because it is derived from milk, it is the most gentle type of chemical peel and is usually recommended for sensitive skin. That said, you can still bank on it to be effective in removing dead skin cells, acne, wrinkles, pigmentation spots, or any other skin blemishes. The best part about this type of peel is that there is no downtime post-treatment!

  • Professional chemical peels (light to medium): 5% to 15% concentration depending on your skin condition
  • Possible side effects: Minimal dryness, redness, itchiness, and irritation depending on the concentration and strength of the peel

Trichloroacetic acid peel for hyperpigmentation

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is one of the most popular chemical peels for treating wrinkles, acne scars, enlarged pores, and hyperpigmentation, although it is only available in medium to deep peels. TCA penetrates deeper into your skin compared to AHAs and BHAs, making it a good ingredient for more serious scarring and pigmentation problems. While it is highly effective, people with sensitive skin may want to skip this type of peel.

  • Professional chemical peels (medium): 20% to 35% concentration depending on your skin condition
  • Possible side effects: Moderate to severe dryness, redness, itchiness, and irritation depending on the concentration and strength of the peel

Enzyme peel for hyperpigmentation

Fruit enzyme peels are technically not considered chemical peels as they make use of natural fruit enzymes instead of skin acids. However, they do offer the same exfoliating benefits without the possible side effects or downtime! Keep in mind though that enzyme peels are limited to the topmost layer of your skin, which makes it perfect for people with minor skin issues or those with sensitive skin. Apart from lightening dark spots, it primarily works to renew and rejuvenate your skin for an overall clearer and brighter complexion.

Chemical Peel Types

Chemical Peel Types for Hyperpigmentation

Bringing back the food analogy: Ingredients are nothing if not applied in the right amount. There are different types of chemical peels, each varying in concentration and strength to penetrate different layers of your skin.

Light Peels

Light or superficial peels typically contain fruit enzymes or small concentrations of acids, which target the topmost layer of your skin, the epidermis. We recommend this type of peel for people struggling with minor, surface-level dark spots. Apart from specific discolouration issues, it is also a great treatment for regular exfoliation. It ensures a healthy cell turnover and brightens up your overall complexion! If you have sensitive skin and tend to stay away from harsh exfoliants, this is a great alternative.

  • Sensations: Minor stinging and mild heat on the skin
  • Side effects: Mild peeling, slight sensitivity, and temporary redness
  • Downtime: Minimal to zero downtime with side effects gone within a few hours to a couple of days
  • Recovery: A few days to a week at most
  • Frequency: Every month

Medium Depth Peels

A medium-depth chemical peel penetrates the outer and middle layers to address discoloration, uneven tone, age spots, fine lines, and more. This procedure can be done every three months to maintain smooth skin and a clear complexion. It will take your skin about one to two weeks to heal. 

  • Sensations: Stinging, burning, and discomfort, although this will depend on your skin sensitivity and pain tolerance
  • Side effects: Peeling, redness, itching, crusting, and swelling in treated areas
  • Downtime: Minimal downtime, so long as you avoid sun exposure, heavy exercise, and public pools
  • Recovery: A few days to two weeks
  • Frequency: Every four to six months

Deep Peels

This is the most invasive type of chemical peel as it penetrates the lower dermal layer to address deep-rooted skin problems. If you are plagued with deep wrinkles, deep scarring, or severe hyperpigmentation, then you may want to consider this option. However, do note that deep peels should only be performed by certified dermatologists or cosmetic surgeons. You will go through several weeks of recovery, as well as more discomfort during the procedure. That said, you may want to consider IPL skin rejuvenation or microneedling as an alternative solution for serious skin concerns.

  • Sensations: Severe stinging, burning, and discomfort
  • Side effects: Peeling, redness, itching, crusting, and swelling in treated areas
  • Downtime: Strict limitations with sun exposure and activities
  • Recovery: Side effects should subside within 2 weeks but recovery can take up to 6 months
  • Frequency: Once a year at most

At this point, it is pretty clear that a lot of work goes into customising the right chemical peel treatment for different skin conditions. Given the many ingredients and strengths available, it is best to trust professionals to handle your skin.

Does a Chemical Peel Remove Pigmentation Permanently?

Does a Chemical Peel Remove Pigmentation Permanently?

While a chemical peel promises significant improvement on hyperpigmentation, results are not always permanent, depending on the severity of your dark spots.

Moreover, constant sun exposure through the years will inevitably lead to new sun spots and skin damage.

BUT the good news is, you can always come back for another chemical peel! They’re safe, effective, and affordable, and with regular sessions, you can maintain the vibrance and flawlessness of your skin. Make sure to ask our aesthetician on the ideal schedule for your regular facials.

Are Chemical Peels Safe for Everyone?

While chemical peels offer an impressive variety of benefits, it is not automatically the right treatment for everyone, especially those with darker skin tones or more sensitive skin. That said, it is always best to be on the safe side and seek advice before anything else.

Here at Lovoir Skin Body & Beauty, you can book a consultation with our skin therapists to get the best advice on the type of peel suitable for you. We’ll gladly go through the ins and outs with you if you have any more questions!

Book Your Chemical Peel Facial

We hope this article has given you a sneak peek into the potential benefits a chemical peel can give you. If you’re ready to book a chemical treatment with us, you can sign up through our website or give us a call!

We offer Skin Therapy Facials that come with different ingredients and concentrations to treat a variety of skin concerns. After a detailed evaluation of your skin, we’ll recommend a custom treatment plan to safely address those pesky dark spots.

Book an O Cosmedics Peel here

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