What No One Tells You About Chemical Peels For Black Skin

Aesthetician Dija Ayodele of the Black Skin Directory sheds light on chemical peels for darker skin tones and how to ensure a successful skin peel experience

Dija Ayodele | Image: Fotolia

A question, I am often repeatedly asked is – ‘Can black skin have chemical peels?’

Whilst there have been a lot of myths and misconceptions over the years, the short answer is yes – darker skin tones can have chemical peels, but with caution.

In this article, I will take you through the ins and outs of chemical peeling, different types of peel agents, what skin conditions chemical peels are suitable for and the precautions that you need to follow to ensure a successful skin peel experience.

What is a chemical peel?

Simply put, it’s the application of an acid solution that sloughs off old, scaly, dull and poor performing skin cells to improve the appearance of the skin and hasten skin regeneration.

Why would you need a chemical peel?

Used at its simplest a chemical peel will lift and brighten the tone of your skin. But you can have a chemical peel for any number of reasons – fading age spots, improved texture and smoothing rough skin, fading scarring, hyperpigmentation and imperfections, evening out and unifying your skin tone, tackling early fine lines and wrinkles, rejuvenating ageing skin and reducing outbreaks of spots and acne.

What types of peels are there?

Peels are classified in four levels, starting with superficial peels which target the top layers of skin (epidermis), medium peels affect the dermis and deep peels penetrate right through the dermis.

For most skin concerns, a course of superficial peels is ideal. They have very little down time, the skin heals quickly and it is easier to control the outcome. Medium peels tend to be too aggressive for black skin, whereas deep peels are wholly unsuitable due to the risk of severe scarring.

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What types of peels are suitable for black skin?

With so many different types of chemical agents available, it’s important to know something about how they work and what they can be used for. Most peels will have an alpha-hydroxy (AHA) or beta hydroxyl (BHA) base, though sometimes peels agents are used singularly in a pure form or in combination with each other.

?Lactic Acid (AHA)

This is a gentle peel derived from soured milk and good for sensitive skin types. Lactic acid is also found naturally in the skin and is a natural humectant, so not only will it remove afore mentioned dullness but it will also help your skin draw and retain moisture, leaving it smooth and plumped out.
What is it good for? – Mild skin ageing, early onset wrinkles, mild hyperpigmentation, refining the skin texture, rosacea.

Mandelic Acid (AHA)

This has gentle surface action and is both anti bacterial and anti inflammatory. It is derived from bitter almonds, so nut allergy sufferers beware.
What is it good for? – Oily and congested skin, superficial to medium acne, superficial hyperpigmentation.

Salicylic Acid (BHA)

Great for oily and congested skin types. It is a mild anti-inflammatory peel that can deep cleanse pores to remove debris and built up oil. It also contributes to the effective shedding of old skin cells. If you’re allergic to aspirin, then beware of salicylic acid as they are from the same chemical family.
What is it good for? – Deep cleansing the skin prior to other peels, controlling oil production, reducing pore size.

Glycolic Acid (AHA)

One of the original chemical peeling solutions made from sugar cane. A highly efficient, high performance work horse for many aestheticians.
What is it good for? – Mild to severe ageing skin, loose skin, lines/wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, acne and associated scarring.

Citric Acid (AHA)

Derived particularly from oranges and lemons. It creates a mild peeling effect but is often added to other peels as a gentle booster for its antioxidants, plumping and brightening effects.
What is it good for? – Light pigmentation, smoothing and reconditioning skin and brightening.

Precautions for black skin

One of the primary concerns for black skin when having any skin treatments, including peels is the potential to develop Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. That is, instead of clearing the hyperpigmentation the treatment does the opposite and creates more hyperpigmentation, dark marks and scarring.

Therefore, it is important to ensure your skin is properly prepped and primed in the weeks leading up to the peel. This could be in the form of a preparatory peel or using home-care products with similar ingredients to the peel.

It is also important to leave adequate time between treatments to allow skin to heal. Ten to fourteen days is ideal, though some peel treatments can require up to four weeks.

It is also important that a full medical history is disclosed including discussing your propensity to scar. If you’ve suffered from keloid scarring in the past, then peels are not advisable.

Are you applying sunscreen on a daily basis? If you want to have peels, then it is a must to wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 everyday to prevent further damage to your skin and post treatment inflammation.

Skin care…


  1. by Layla Monet on 28/08/2021  10:38 PM Reply

    I wholeheartedly love the article as a newbie in the esthetics craft, I’ve been doing my research and diving into how to heal the appearance of skin as a melanated carbon being so I understand hyperpigmentation is a common issue, so, I was looking for to a great chemical peel to appease my audience? Especially a product chemically compounded to affect the result of melanated skin.

  2. by Kashi on 16/08/2021  3:05 AM Reply

    Just trying to see if these comments are from real ppl

    • by IShelley on 16/08/2021  5:11 PM Reply

      Your comment made us smile – no actually, laugh!

      Yes, they are from real people.

      The BBH Team

  3. by Gabriel Hyett on 10/08/2021  7:31 AM Reply

    Thanks for the great content. I will also share with my friends & once again thanks.

  4. by Tish on 27/02/2021  8:19 AM Reply

    Hi I would love your advice.
    I'm currently struggling with hypopigmentation around my mouth nose and between my eyebrows. All because I used a Japanese product when I ran out of my daily cleanser. I used that product twice and am going on 2 years with no real improvement. The dermatologist just tells me to wait. Would a chemical peel be a good option for me?

  5. by Researching on 19/01/2021  3:48 PM Reply

    Great information. Thank you.

  6. by Hope on 11/01/2021  11:30 AM Reply

    Hello, I had acne and I touch all my face and now I have dark marks and hyperpigmentation. I live in Europe and there aren't dermatologists who know the treatment for me. Please help.

    • by Do on 13/03/2021  4:39 PM Reply

      Hi where do you live in Europe ?

  7. by Pam on 15/07/2020  2:05 PM Reply

    I have several dark marks on my cheeks and above my top lip from smoking. What peel should I use to remove? My skin is otherwise ok.

  8. Pingback : Black Skin Directory wins big at the Aesthetic Awards |

  9. by Kwesi Kendall on 11/11/2019  11:24 PM Reply

    Love the information,. Where can I buy this product from?

  10. by Maxine on 26/07/2019  8:15 PM Reply

    Thank you for sharing! Very insightful

  11. by Ashley Johnson on 02/07/2019  4:19 PM Reply

    I liked that you said that chemical peels will brighten and tone your skin. I would imagine that this would help you look more awake and bright. I would consider using a chemical peel to help my skin appear healthier.

  12. by Alice G on 07/06/2019  1:40 PM Reply

    I have been using clycolic acid products to brighten my skin but instead of being bright my skin is becoming more darker, I don't even expose my skin to the sun as I'm always at home. Please I need help should I leave the products or..

    • by Symone Ikuenobe on 13/05/2020  12:42 PM Reply

      Hi Alice, Glycolic acid peel is a superficial chemical peel that is effective for removing dead skin cells. If you are looking to brighten your skin you will need to use ascorbic acid, kojic acid, retiniods, cysteamine and a liquorice extract niacinamide. Check out @skincultuk for more information on helping women of colour achieve healthy skin.

  13. by JJ on 28/12/2018  5:39 PM Reply

    What type of peel would you suggest for the body? I have hair entrapped on my arms and legs – chicken skin. The condition has worsened as I age.

  14. by Tara Jo on 16/12/2018  6:29 AM Reply


  15. by Tara Jo on 16/12/2018  6:25 AM Reply

    A Doctor can only recommend a chemical peel?

  16. by click here on 25/10/2018  4:59 AM Reply

    You can get it in the black tea version Debra but if you don’t like milk tea, then definitely skip!

  17. by Customeressay on 11/03/2018  9:27 AM Reply

    By removing damaged layers of skin, a good chemical peel can give you a fresh start. While a peel may not completely reverse damage, it will significantly reduce sun damage, acne, and discoloration, as we will see shortly. What Type of Chemical Peel is Right for You? When considering getting a chemical peel, it’s important to be aware of the many variables. Choosing the right chemical solution can mean the difference between a poor chemical peel and a great one. Additionally, you and your doctor will need to decide whether a light, medium, or deep peel is best for you. In order to help you ensure you choose the right peel, your doctor will likely want to examine you and take a history of your skin issues. Then, taking into account your skin issues as well as your availability and budget requirements, your doctor can recommend a type of chemical peel.

  18. by Marla on 07/03/2018  10:08 PM Reply


    Do you have any addresses from clinics which are familiar with peeling dark skin?

    My cousin is having huge problems with her skin I see how it affects her life at the moment.

    Thank you for answering.


    • by Dija Ayodele on 12/03/2018  5:44 PM Reply

      If you live in the UK - you can search www.blackskindirectory.com and you will be able to find clinics that will be able to help.

    • by Symone Ikuenobe on 13/05/2020  12:36 PM Reply

      There are a number of clinics in the UK that offer safe and effective chemical peels for dark skin. Check out @skincultuk on instagram a page dedicated to helping people of colour achieve healthy skin.

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