Are Chemical Peels Good for Hyperpigmentation?

Chemical peels are one way in which people treat hyperpigmentation and they can reduce skin discoloration, but the ingredients used within a chemical peel can result in unwanted side effects, so while they can be a good option, they are also a risky option.

A chemical peel is a substance which is applied to the face in order to remove the top layers of skin, therefore reducing the appearance of damaged skin caused by conditions such as acne and hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels contain acidic ingredients including glycolic acid and salicylic acid which help to remove the top layers of skin, leaving it more evenly pigmented and therefore improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

There are, however, a few side effects and risks to using chemical peels., A safer alternative would be to maintain a regular skincare routine using products that contain natural ingredients such as our moisturising face cream and hydrating serum to tackle hyperpigmentation, but for some people the benefits of chemical peels outweigh the risks. Some of the risks of using chemical peels are detailed below so that you can decide the best option for you.

The risks of using a chemical peel to treat hyperpigmentation

Chemical peels come in varying strengths, from the superficial chemical peels that only remove a layer of the epidermis, to medium peels that reach down to the dermis and deep peels that strip the skin back deep into the dermis. The stronger the peel, the higher the risks are. Some of the most common risks and side effects of chemical peels are as follows:

Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation

Ironically, despite some people using chemical peels as a way to treat hyperpigmentation, they are also known to cause hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin in places) and hypopigmentation (lightening the skin in places). This side effect is particularly prevalent in people with dark skin and can be permanent. Superficial peels are more likely to cause hyperpigmentation, and deep peels are more likely to cause hypopigmentation. The other difficulty is that for a period of time after a chemical peel, the skin is much more sensitive to sun exposure, which can, of course, also lead to hyperpigmentation.

Skin damage

While it is rare, chemical peels have been known to cause permanent scarring, particularly around the lower part of the face which then requires antibiotics or steroid treatments to reduce the appearance of the scarring. More common side effects would be scabbing, swelling and a redness that can take months to go away (particularly after a medium or deep chemical peel).


Another common side effect of chemical peels is that people who suffer from herpes complex are likely to get a flare up following treatment, resulting in cold sores. There is also the possibility of a bacterial or fungal infection following a chemical peel, although these side effects are far less common than cold sores.

Organ damage

While this is an extreme example of a chemical peel side effect, deep peels can potentially result in heart, liver or kidney damage. This is because deep peels use carbolic acid (phenol) which can damage the heart muscle and cause irregular heart beats, as well as damaging other organs. Deep chemical peels are usually broken up into several treatments to limit the phenol exposure.

While there is plenty of evidence to suggest that chemical peels can treat hyperpigmentation, many people find that the risks outweigh the benefits. There are plenty of other ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation, and in some cases hyperpigmentation can go away by itself. Knowing the cause of your hyperpigmentation can help with deciding the best type of treatment, and speaking to a dermatologist is a great way to learn more about caring for your skin. At Epara Skincare, we have an amazing range of skincare products, many of which can help to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation.

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