The Best At-Home Chemical Peels, According to Skin Experts

The Best At-Home Chemical Peels, According to Skin Experts featured image
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Chemical peels are one of the most popular in-office treatments for achieving smoother, brighter skin—and now, at-home chemical peels make those same results possible without booking an appointment.  

“At-home chemical peels are growing in popularity because brands have seen that there is a strong desire for people to be able to get professional-like results at home,” says celebrity aesthetician and founder of SkinLab Joshua Ross. Washington D.C. plastic surgeon Michael Somenek, MD believes their burgeoning popularity is also due to their lower cost in comparison to an in-office chemical peel. 

So, what exactly is an at-home chemical peel? The answer is dependent on understanding the function of a chemical peel. Aesthetician and founder/CEO of Urban Skin Rx, Rachel Roff, defines it as a “chemical exfoliator that works to fade the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve brightness.” At-home peels use weaker concentrations of ingredients than in-office peels. 

Ahead, find the top chemical peels recommended by our beauty team and experts. 

What is an at-home chemical peel?

At-home chemical peels function similarly to in-office chemical peels. However, the key difference is that at-home chemical peels have lower concentrations of active ingredients. “In-office peels are performed by professionals and use stronger acids that can penetrate deeper into the skin,” explains Garden City, New York dermatologist Navin S. Arora, DO. “This allows for more significant results but also comes with a higher risk of side effects and a longer recovery time.”

New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD explains it this way: “In-office peels are capable of doing things that at-home peels can’t. They can penetrate the dermis deeper and provide quicker results.”

When shopping for an at-home chemical peel, Dr. Levine suggests keeping an eye out for alpha hydroxy acids (also known as AHAs) like glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids, which exfoliate and brighten the skin or beta hydroxy acid (BHAs) like salicylic acid, which fights acne.

How often should you use an at-home chemical peel? 

New York aesthetic nurse practitioner Jackie Spagnuolo believes the frequency of using an at-home chemical peel depends on a variety of factors, such as the strength of the peel, your skin type, and tolerance. “Most at-home chemical peels are designed for weekly or bi-weekly use. It’s essential to follow the instructions provided with the product and start with a lower frequency to assess how your skin responds,” she explains. “If you experience excessive dryness, redness or irritation, decrease the frequency or discontinue use temporarily.” That being said, it is always best to air on the safe side. She suggests consulting with a skin-care professional for personalized advice based on your skin’s needs.

Best At-Home Chemical Peels

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Obagi Clinical Blue Brilliance Triple Acid Peel ($149)

“For a multi-acid, strong over-the-counter peel, I like this one,” says Laguna Beach, CA aesthetic and wellness expert Dr. Adrienne O’Connell. “It contains salicylic, glycolic and lactic acids, and it’s great for retexturing and smoothing the skin. It’s the closest you’ll get to a professional-grade peel in the comfort of your own home. With that being said, it needs to be used sparingly and I can’t stress enough to follow the directions.” Spagnuolo also loves this peel—in part for its triple acid formulation but mostly for how it evens her skin tone. “It leaves my complexion looking refreshed, smoother and more youthful,” she says.

BUY NOW – $149

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The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Exfoliating Peeling Solution ($10) 

This peel looks like a serum, but don’t let the bottle fool you—it is only meant to be used once per week. “This is a water-based rinse-off weekly treatment, ideal for experienced users of exfoliating acids,” says Dr. Somenek. When used regularly, this treatment uses a combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to target textural irregularities, dullness and signs of congested pores. 

BUY NOW – $10

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Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial AHA + BHA Mask ($80) 

Don’t let the name fool you. This formula is much too strong for your Sephora tween. This cult favorite peel is packed with a whopping 25 percent AHA blend. Think glycolic, lactic and citric acids working together to speed up cell turnover. The two percent salicylic acid may seem small in comparison, but trust us, it’s mighty. After 20 minutes of wear, expect clearer pores, slight redness and a little tingling. 

BUY NOW – $80

DrunkElephant Babyfacial
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Glo Skin Beauty GlyPro AHA Resurfacing Peel ($70)

“I love Glo Skin Beauty’s Level 2 GlyPro AHA Resurfacing Peel as a slightly stronger at-home peel treatment,” says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “It uses glycolic acid, retinol and antioxidant-rich superfruits to refresh and reset skin by exfoliating, brightening, fortifying and refining the complexion.” Dr. Arora seconds this. He is particularly impressed with the retinol component that promotes cell turnover, refining and renewing.

BUY NOW – $70

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Shani Darden Skincare Triple Acid Signature Peel ($125)

Celebrity esthetician Shani Darden has worked on some of Hollywood’s most beautiful faces—Jennifer Aniston, Chrissy Teigen and Kelly Rowland are clients. Thanks to the handy brush and clever packaging, her at-home peel is the next best thing to an in-office treatment. Step one relies on the help of three acids, namely glycolic, mandelic and lactic, to clear congestions and exfoliate. Step two is a calming kaolin clay mask which continues to purge pores. It’s meant to be used bi-monthly for your best complexion yet. 

BUY NOW – $125

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Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads ($115)

“These pads really give an immediate effect and glow to the skin,” says New York medical aesthetician Joie Tavernise. “Please keep in mind, however, that everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to consult with a skin-care professional before trying any new at-home peels, especially if you have sensitive or problematic skin. Spagnuolo calls these pads “a staple” in her routine. The combination of acids and retinol firms and brightens her skin with each use.

BUY NOW – $115

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Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel ($49) 

For more sensitive skin types, this enzyme peel eats away at dead skin without rubbing the skin raw. Instead of intense acids, this at-home peel relies on exfoliating papaya and calming pineapple. Paired with milk proteins and vitamin E, this peel hydrates while gently sloughing dead skin cells. 

BUY NOW – $49

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PCA Skin Micro Peel At Home Peel ($140)

PCA is one of the most commonly used chemical peels in med spas, and now, they offer a peel that you can do at home. This kit is an entire routine in a box, equipped with everything from a cleanser to an SPF. The detoxifying mask paired with the enzyme treatment will gently exfoliate, and the soothing moisturizer will reduce any sensitivity.

BUY NOW – $140

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Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Exfoliating Peel Spray ($52)

Unlike other options on this list, the Juice Beauty at-home peel comes in a spray rather than a dropper or a jar. Instead of slathering, spritz onto cleansed skin. It also relies on plant-based exfoliators, which tend to be gentler. Licorice root keeps pores clear, and cucumber extract hydrates and soothes. Make sure to shake before using. 

BUY NOW – $52

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Is Clinical Active Peel Treatment System ($92) 

“I love recommending these peel pads for people to use at home,” says Ross. “They are generally safer for all skin types and can be used sometimes weekly or monthly [there are 15 in a set, and you can use them every other day] depending on your skin type. Do not trust Amazon brands that are not well-established or have high concentrations of acid over five to 10 percent, depending on the acid and pH.”

Spagnuolo also relies on this peel system for its potent blend of botanical extracts and active ingredients like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. “It delivers visible results, improving texture, tone and overall skin health,” she says. 

BUY NOW – $92

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Philosophy Microdelivery 2-Step Resurfacing Peel Kit ($79)

Dr. Somenek compares this two-step peel to an at-home dermabrasion treatment. He loves the combination of vitamin C and lactic acid, which both replenishes and smooths the skin. One of the more sensorial treatments on this list, this two-step solution starts with a micro-crystal-infused mask. Note: this is not meant to be used as a scrub. The next step is applying the lactic and salicylic acid gel over the top. After that, the mixture will begin to foam and warm. 

BUY NOW – $79

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M-61 Powerglow Peel Gradual Tan ($72) 

Freshly peeled skin glows—thanks to the banishment of dead skin cells. However, these peel pads take things a step further. Yes, a combination of glycolic and salicylic acid eat away at a dull top layer, and they also use vitamin K to aid in reducing inflammation and speeding up skin recovery. The real differentiator is how the pad simultaneously exfoliates and tans the skin. Use regularly to build up a tan or sparingly when you need a little extra glow. 

BUY NOW – $72

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Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry and Acid Polishing Peel ($56) 

“I like this one because it is both a physical exfoliant and chemical exfoliant,” says Dr. O’Connell. “It features salicylic acid, so it’s great for acne. It really cleans out the pores and leaves skin glowing. I recommend using it one to two times a week, as you do not want to over-dry or irritate your skin.”

BUY NOW – $56

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PSD Acne 2/2 Toning Pads ($38)

Dr. Levine loves these pads for acne-prone skin to help control breakouts and improve skin texture. “They can also be used in the morning to cleanse the face, instead of soap,” she says, “These pads are available in either two percent or five percent pure glycolic acid, coupled with the proven acne-fighting ingredient salicylic acid two percent to exfoliate your skin and give it a clear, glowing, and youthful appearance.”

BUY NOW – $38

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Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads ($92)

“I have loved these peel pads for years,” says Roff. “The trend for doing at-home treatments started during Covid and hasn’t really slowed down. While an at-home peel won’t give you the same results as a professional treatment, it still yields great results. They do not completely resurface the skin, but they are powerful exfoliators and will leave your skin glowing after use.” Spagnuolo is also a fan. “I love these peel pads for their convenient two-step system that combines AHAs, BHAs, and antioxidants to address various skin concerns,” she says.

BUY NOW – $92

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Bliss That’s Incredi-Peel Spa-Strength Glycolic Resurfacing Pads ($25)

Dr. Somenek gives these resurfacing pads his stamp of approval. The pads are infused with 10 percent glycolic acid which gradually releases overnight to exfoliate and smooth away dead skin cells. “It is a no-rinse peel in a pad which is easy to use,” he explains. They are an extra convenient way to improve the brightness and texture of the skin.

BUY NOW – $25

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