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Chemical Peels: Which Level is Right for You?

If you’re looking to refresh your complexion and restore your youthful glow, chemical peels are a surefire way to achieve brighter, smoother, and younger-looking skin. This popular treatment involves the application of an acid-based solution that stimulates new skin growth by accelerating cell turnover.

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While chemical peels have been around for centuries, today’s formulations are more advanced than ever, providing stellar results in a way that’s safe, effective, and virtually painless. What’s more, there are three different types, or levels, to choose from. That means you can customize your experience based on your skin concerns, downtime, and desired results.

Ready to learn more? Let’s take a look at the three different levels of chemical peels that OVME offers and the benefits each one brings to the table.

Level 1 Chemical Peel

If you’ve never had a chemical peel or are looking for a gentle treatment with virtually no downtime, level 1 chemical peels are a perfect choice. At OVME, we use formulations that contain new-generation alpha-hydroxy acids that are gentler and more hydrating than the generation before. And just to be clear, gentler does not mean less effective! In fact, 80% of patients saw visible improvement in smoothness and texture of their skin after a level 1 chemical peel. Level 1 peels are generally safe for all skin types.

“I like to call this the Hollywood Peel or the Red Carpet Peel because there is no downtime—you’ll be red-carpet ready immediately,” explained Elizabeth Weiler, OVME’s Director of Education and Development. “This peel will not cause any visible peeling of the skin. It’s very gentle and contains those newer generation acids that brighten and refine skin. If you’ve never had a peel, this is a great place to start.”

Active Ingredients:

Salicylic acid, mandelic acid, resorcinol, phytic acid, and malic acid.

Ideal For:

Those with mild skin imperfections and those who want to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.

When to Repeat:

Can be repeated every 2-4 weeks.

Recovery/Downtime:

None! You can expect little to no visible peeling.

Level 2 Chemical Peel

Level 2 is the perfect mid-level peel that goes slightly deeper to treat discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. It’s generally considered safe for most skin types, although redness can occur and last for 1-2 days after treatment. According to one clinical study, 94% of patients experienced global improvements, while 100% of patients found that level 2 peels improved smoothness, firmness, and texture.

“Level 2 treatments are the true MVPs of chemical peels,” Elizabeth said. “They do an incredible job and deliver a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak, in terms of results. It’s ideal for addressing those more moderate to severe skin imperfections.”

Active Ingredients:

Salicylic acid, lactic acid, resorcinol, and retinol.

Ideal For:

Those with moderate to severe skin concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

When to Repeat:

Can be repeated every 3-5 weeks. We recommend getting three to 3-6 peels to achieve maximum results.

Recovery/Downtime:

Expect two to five days of moderate peeling and redness.

Level 3 Chemical Peel

Last but certainly not least is your level 3 chemical peel. This is the most intense of the treatments as it penetrates several layers to target sun damage, scarring, and other more prominent skin issues. Contrary to popular belief, level 3 is considered safe for all skin types—including darker complexions. We do, however, recommend starting with a level 1 or 2 before progressing to level 3 if you’re a V-VI Fitzpatrick skin type to assess tolerability.

“Level 3 peels essentially have the same ingredients as level 2 peels, just in slightly higher concentrations,” Elizabeth explained. “This allows us to reach deeper levels of the epidermis to treat more severe skin concerns.”

Active Ingredients:

Salicylic acid, lactic acid, resorcinol, and retinol.

Ideal For:

Those with moderate to severe skin imperfections such as deeper lines and wrinkles, sun damage, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

When to Repeat:

Can be repeated every 4-6 weeks. We recommend getting three to 3-6 peels to achieve maximum results.

Recovery/Downtime:

You may experience moderate peeling lasting 2-5 days, along with some redness and irritation.

After the Peel

No matter what level of chemical peel you opt for, it’s important to take good care of your skin following treatment. Here are a few aftercare tips to follow.

  • Wear SPF (you should be doing this every day anyway!) and avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • If your skin starts peeling, don’t pick at it! As tempting as it can be, avoid removing any skin flakes before it falls off naturally as you could expose the skin underneath that’s still healing.
  • Try not to sweat too much—avoid things like saunas, steam rooms, and hot yoga—to prevent moisture beads from forming under that top layer of skin.
  • Avoid any sort of waxing or hair removal immediately before and after a chemical peel.
  • Don’t over-moisturize. Touching up throughout the day is perfectly fine, but overdoing it can cause peeling skin to come off too soon.
  • OVME carries some SkinMedica products that are perfect for post-peel care. Try Total Defense SPF and TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream.


Ready to book your next (or first!) chemical peel? When you make an appointment with OVME, you’ll be treated to a VIP experience—our experts will guide you through each level and your treatment options to get you the results you truly want. And, best of all, when you become an OVME Elite member, you receive a complimentary level 1 chemical peel once a month!

For more information about our membership offerings, click here, or to find an OVME Studio near you, click here.

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