Some treatments are best left to the pros—and an intense chemical peel with glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid is most definitely one of them. Don’t test your fate (or face) with at-home experiments, people. But, that’s not to say that chemical exfoliators won’t give you the same glow-boosting, skin-evening benefits via a safer medium. The best at-home chemical peels are going to be *much* gentler, won’t require downtime, and will typically be delivered through peel pad, serum-like liquid, or wash-off formula. Granted, it may take a bit longer to notice a smoother texture or faded dark spots, but believe us when we say that incorporating one into your routine is 100 percent worth it in the long run. At-home chemical peels vary in strength and ingredients, but most aim to deeply exfoliate the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve brightness, and lift away unwanted discoloration and brown spots.
To get the answers to all of your chemical peel questions and shop for the safest at-home options, keep scrolling. (If you’re interested in more professional-grade at-home treatments, check out our favorite LED masks, keratin treatments, and dermaplaning tools. )
What to Look for in a Chemical Peel
When choosing a DIY peel, it’s smart to consider your skin type, says Dr. Engelman. “Look at the acids in the peel, and make sure they target the issue you are trying to remedy.” For example, someone with acne-prone skin might want to seek out a salicylic acid peel, while someone with sensitive skin looking to target hyperpigmentation is better suited with glycolic acid.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel recommends that companies use glycolic and lactic alpha-hydroxy acids in concentrations of 10 percent or less, in solutions with a pH of 3.5 or greater, when formulating consumer products. As for salicylic acid? The maximum concentration in over-the-counter products is two percent.
You’re going to notice that the chemical peels on this list range from peel pads to overnight treatments. While the medium you choose is in large part personal preference, it’s worth noting that short-term, wash-off products are *typically* going to have less of an impact than leave-on formulas that can work overnight. However, that doesn’t mean that the latter is necessarily better. Wash-off products are generally ideal for more sensitive or dry skin types.
Is an At-Home Chemical Peel Safe?
Let us preface this by saying that using a professional-grade product at home is unsafe—those high intensity acids should *only* be used by doctors. “Due to a wave of how-to YouTube videos and consumer accessibility to professional products through vendors like Amazon, I am seeing more and more instances of serious damage done to skin—all in a patient’s own bathroom,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. “Higher concentrations of acid must be administered by a licensed professional; they can damage skin if they’re not neutralized properly.” That said, using a peel pad, mask, or serum that is specifically designed for at-home use is a-ok.
The Best At-Home Chemical Peels
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel Overall
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Chances are, you’ve seen this peel pad before. It’s everywhere, because it’s really, truly the best of the best. It’s packed with five different acids—a combination of AHAs and BHAs—to target concerns ranging from acne to dark spots and dry patches. It’s a two-minute long application process that’s well worth the investment. That said, these pads are the real deal, so if you have sensitive or dry skin don’t charge full speed ahead. Start out using them just two times a week.
Pros: AHAs and BHAs; Multi-benefit
Cons: Might be too intense for some
Customer Review: “This product has been amazing in clearing up my face. It’s so smooth after each treatment and you can really see all the gook on the pad even after it’s been washed. I have seen a significant improvement on my smile lines. They are not as defined and seem to be smoothing out. This is way better than scrubs or harsh cleansing tools. It’s the perfect amount of exfoliation. I now use it at least once a week as maintenance after using one sensitive skin treatment.” — Sephora
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Mature Skin
Natura Bisse Glyco Extreme Peel
Think of this like a short term pick-me-up. It’s designed to be used twice a day, every day, for six weeks. Supercharged with five different AHAs to target signs of aging on the surface and at deeper levels of the skin, this is strong enough to visibly brighten skin without irritating it. According to Dr. Engelman, AHAs like glycolic acid are ideal for anti-aging: “It’s the smallest acid in particle size, meaning it is the most effective in breaking down cellular bonds to reveal new cells,” she explains.
Pros: Derm-approved; Brightening; Anti-aging
Customer Review: “I bought this exfoliator a few months ago and absolutely love it—I feel like I look years younger! It’s quite strong so I started off slow and built up to a couple of times a week and I love it that makes my skin so smooth, refreshed and clear! Makeup goes on smoother and it’s not drying either. Definitely recommend.” — Nordstrom
The Best Multi-Acid At-Home Chemical Peel
Obagi Clinical Blue Brilliance Triple Acid Peel
This is the closest you’re going to get to a professional-grade peel in the comfort of your own home. Three acids (glycolic, salicylic, lactic) combine for one of the strongest exfoliating treatments you can get over-the-counter. While the retexturing and skin-smoothing results are undeniable, pretty pretty please proceed with caution. This is no joke, so read all of the instructions, set your timers appropriately, and stear clear if you have sensitive skin.
Pros: Very effective; Smoothing and retexturizing
Cons: Needs to be used with an abundance of caution
Customer Review: “I love this peel so much! It’s great for a fast at-home peel that gives great results. After each use, my skin is super soft, smooth, and continues to glow days after. I always receive the best compliments after using this product. I really do recommend and will buy again.” — Target
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Fine Lines
Bliss That’s Incredi-peel Glycolic Resurfacing Pads
In some regards, these fan-favorite peel pads from Bliss—and their whopping 1,200 Amazon reviews—are rather simple. Ten percent glycolic acid time-releases overnight, targeting fine lines, dark marks, and blemishes. It’s a particularly well-tolerated formulation thanks to the addition of witch hazel, licorice, and calendula flower, which quell inflammation. Because they’re on the gentler side, it’s a great entry option for anyone who want the chemical peel benefits sans irritation.
Pros: Anti-inflammatory; Soothing; Non greasy texture
Cons: Some report a strong odor
Customer Review: “I have a few wrinkles, age spots, acne scars and uneven skin. I’ve been using the common things that we all use, vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide and others, with no really discernable results. I bought these and took a picture of my face. I am not lying, I could see a difference after three uses and after a month I took another picture. The results are spectacular!” — Ulta
The Best At-Home Glycolic Acid Peel
Sobel Skin Rx 30% Glycolic Acid Peel Concentrate
This 30 percent concentrate of glycolic acid only stays on for two minutes and is especially beloved by those who are looking for chemical peels to treat acne scars, acne, or melasma. Its formula contains the obvious glycolic acid, along with soothing and calming chamomile, to create a balanced, clear, and exfoliated complexion. This peel is on the stronger side, so don’t leave it on longer than instructed and avoid it if you have sensitive skin.
Pros: Great for acne and melasma; Powerful
Cons: Not for sensitive skin
Customer Review: “This is the best thing to ever happen to my skin. I had acne prone skin with melasma and large pores and i had tried EVERYTHING….nothing worked until I incorporated this into my skincare routine. I use it twice a week and i leave it on for five mins. I am on my third bottle and i now have clear skin….my skin has evened out, i barely breakout and my pores are barely noticeable. I can go out without makeup in confidence and i am so happy.” — Sephora
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Rosacea
iS Clinical Active Peel System
As someone who’s struggled with rosacea for years, I can very confidently and comfortably confirm that these pads are game changers. It’s gentle, so my skin barrier remains in tact (and my rosacea under control), but still has powerful botanical and citric acids to provide effective exfoliation. The initial tingling sensation is even cooling in nature, which feels great against my naturally hot skin.
Pros: Easy to use; Good for rosacea-prone skin
Cons: Small batch per box
Customer Review: These wipes are absolutely AMAZING!! They work to clear acne, black heads, rough skin. They work like little facials. I can’t live without these.” — Bluemercury
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Hyperpigmentation
Shani Darden Triple Acid Signature Peel
If you have hyperpigmentation of any sort (think: dark spots, melasma, dark patches), then Shani Darden’s Triple Acid Signature Peel is the peel for you. The first step is formulated with glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid. The trio’s sole focus is to draw out gunk from your pores and brighten your complexion. The second step is the neutralizer, which comes complete with kaolin and bentonite clays. When all is said and done, you’re skin will look glowy as ever. It has a steep price point, but you’re going to get a full eight peels out of the kit.
Pros: Gentle; Effective; Pro-formulated
Customer Review: “I used this today for the first time and I am amazed at how smooth and healthy my face looks!! It was so easy to use and is packaged perfect for storing until your next use. It is gentle and the directions tell you what to expect every step of the way. This was worth every penny and I have only used it once. I have used many at home peels and this one has been the best by far.” — Sephora
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Large Pores
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
Dr. Englemen says that a peel that contains BHAs is ideal for treating acne. “BHAs, like salicylic and beta hydroxy, are best for issues like large pores, blackheads and pimples,” she explains. “These acids have keratin-dissolving properties that can breakdown dead skin cell build-up and decongest pores.” That in mind, this two percent BHA and 30 percent AHA solution will work wonders for acne-prone skin. Just don’t leave it on for more than 10 minutes because you can overdo it.
Pros: Derm-approved; Affordable; Good for acne
Cons: Some report burning and stinging upon application
Customer Review: “I have bought this product twice now and im still in love with it! I am a sucker for exfoliating products and when i first tried this i thought there was no way my face would feel “polished,” but boy was i wrong. My face feels so soft and refreshed after every use. Always clears up whatever breakouts I get. I will warn you it does have a slight burning/tingling sensation when you first use it. But the more frequently you use it, that burning feeling goes away.” — Ulta
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel Mask
Caudalíe Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Peel Mask
Dull skin has nothing on this exfoliating face mask. The 10-minute fix is a radiance-boosting-dead-skin-sloughing-glow-giving miracle worker. It’s packed with gentle AHAs as well as the brand’s trademark Viniferene, which is ideal for reducing the look of dark spots. Unlike some other chemical peel masks, which will tighten and need to be peeled off, this little guy has an unexpectedly creamy texture that won’t sting or tingle upon application. While this mask does come with some crazy good results, we don’t recommend it for sensitive skin types.
Pros: Great for dark spots; Vegan; Creamy texture
Cons: Not for sensitive skin
Customer Review: “Every time I use it, my skin feels amazing and looks so fresh. I use it at night mostly, and then slather on hydrating products after cleaning it off, and I use this twice a week religiously. I feel like my skin looks healthier, especially with pregnancy hormones doing a number on my skin, this helps clear and soften and calm it.”
The Best Wash-Off At-Home Chemical Peel
Doctor Babor Refine RX AHA Peel Pads
With an AHA concentration of 5.1 percent and a pH value of 3.7, these are totally safe for at-home use according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Thanks to a blend of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid, these babies help to minimize the look of pores, even skin tone, and brighten—the trifecta. One callout: This is a wash-off formula, so make sure you wash your face with water after five to 10 minutes.
Pros: Multi-benefit; Comes with two month supply
Cons: Tingles upon application
Customer Review: “Great at-home peel pads for exfoliation. These are safe enough to use multiple times a week. I like to use them, then use the collagen ampules and a night cream. They are not as effective as a professional peel, but do come a close second.”
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Uneven Skin Texture
Kate Somerville KateCeuticals Resurfacing Overnight Peel
Let’s preface this by saying that having bumps and rough patches is a completely normal part of being human. If you do want to smooth out some of that texture, though, there’s no better product than this one. In addition to glycolic acid, this formula includes retinol and niacinamide, two ingredients that speed up cell turnover and help even skin texture and tone. So without further ado, start using this two to three times a week.
Pros: Smooths texture; Contains retinol
Cons: Irritating to some
Customer Review: “This product is strong, but it worked well for me once I figured out the right frequency for my skin. I generally don’t have sensitive skin, so I started using it about twice per week all over my face and neck, but I noticed some dry skin and peeling on my cheeks after a little while of using it. Since then, I’ve reduced use to once per week, and I’m very satisfied with the results. My skin is smoother and is more even in tone. The product is kind of sticky once applied, but I found waiting about 20-30 minutes for it to dry/set in before going to bed helps.”
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Acne-Prone Skin
Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel
If you’re ready to pull out the big guns in the name of glow, this product is the way to go. It features both physical and chemical exfoliants, so rest assured your skin will be left looking radiant. While most of the peels on this list have glycolic acid as the star ingredient, this one features salicylic acid, making it a great option for those with acne.
Pros: Multi-acid; Radiance-boosting; Good for acne
Cons: Drying and irritating to sensitive skin
Customer Review: “I’ve used this once a day, 3 times a week for one week now and it has really cleared up my breakout. I would not recommend for anyone with very dry or sensitive skin but it works amazing for oil control. Light and fluffy texture with a great natural scent and nothing artificial. Steep price tag but you only need a small amount for each use. One of the only masks I’ve used that made a noticeable difference!” — Sephora
The Best At-Home chemical Peel for Sensitive Skin
Skyn Iceland Nordic Skin Peel
I’m the first to admit that the thought of a peel on my sensitive skin is slightly terrifying. But trust me when I say that this gentle pad doesn’t irritate my face. In fact, I can use the lactic acid treatment five times per week without experiencing extra redness or stinging. I also love that the formula doesn’t have to be washed off—it’s just an added step in my nighttime routine.
Pros: Editor-approved; Good for sensitive skin
Cons: Has a scent
Customer Review: “I use this every night after removing my makeup and using an acne wash. I typically wait around a half hour after my nightly routine to use this. I wipe my entire face down using both sides until the pad no longer feels wet, then after I feel that it’s all absorbed I do a lite layer of moisturizer. When I wake up my skin looks so healthy. This has helped clear up my mild acne, and these little bumps that started forming on my chin over the past 7 months.” — Ulta
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Easily Irritated Skin
Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel
If chemical peels typically leave you raw and red, this little bottle might be just the solution. Shake it up to blend the two liquids: A heavy-duty combo of glycolic, lactic, and malic acids that loosen the bonds of dead cells to clarify skin, and a soothing elixir of antioxidant holy basil and omega-rich jojoba seed oil to calm the acid’s effects. Then act fast and pour a little onto a cotton pad before swiping it across your face. You’ll notice an immediate glow and long term brightening benefits.
Pros: Soothing; Gets rid of dead skin cells
Cons: A bit oily
Customer Review: “I use it every night and two weeks after, my skin becomes so soft and brighter, and my nose does not have blackheads anymore. But, it is very oily. However, because it gives such a great result, I can bear with it. I apply three drops on the cotton pad (you don’t want to use a lot, because it’s really oily), I wont apply cream immediately right after. I’ll brush my teeth first to let it absorbs for a while, and then apply my night cream.” — Sephora
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Brighter Skin
Sanitas Skincare Brightening Peel Pads
A one-two-three punch of glycolic, salicylic and lactic acid provides exfoliation, brightening, and cell turnover for a fresh and renewed complexion. Plus, the BHA inclusion is going to help clear away blackheads and whiteheads. Simply swipe this pad along your face and décolletage and allow it to dry fully before layering on your nightly products. The triple-acid blend is gentle enough to linger on your skin and keep working overnight, so don’t wash it off.
Pros: Multi-benefit; Works overnight; Brightening
Cons: Might cause dryness or irritation
Customer Review: “I’ve tried this twice now before bed and woke up with noticeably clearer skin and smaller pores! My skin has never looked better 10/10 recommend.” — Sanitas
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Smoothing
Lancer Skincare Caviar Lime Acid Peel
To target tone and texture, Lancer Skincare is the way to go. This 15 minute wash-off treatment leverages caviar lime, which is naturally rich in AHAs, with retinol, an anti-aging powerhouse that speeds up cell turnover, plumps up fine lines, and evens out tone. The outcome? An ultra-brightening treatment that gives an airbrushed look to pores. It’s also going to make your complexion a lot less oily.
Pros: Controls oil; Helps with texture and tone
Cons: Not a lot of product in the jar
Customer Review: “While it is a steep price for this jar, I do think the results are worth it! I started off using it once a week to assess my threshold and have since upped it to twice a week. I can definitely tell a difference in my skin as it appears smoother, shinier and some of my dark spots have faded a bit. I know I will eventually need professional intervention but until then, this Caviar Lime Peel will be my go to.” — Dermstore
The Best At-Home Chemical Peel for Dull Skin
goop GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel
Give your skin a boost while you catch some Z’s with these peel pads. Swipe the dual-sided pad over your face, neck, and chest before you head to bed and wake up with smooth, glowing skin. The peel contains a high concentration of glycolic acid (15 percent to be exact), along with kakadu plum, which provides antioxidant protection, and three different types of hyaluronic acid to balance out the drying effects.
Pros: Hydrating; Vegan; Brightening
Cons: Only contains 12 treatments
Customer Review: My first time using it my skin purged like crazy. But now my skin looks THE BEST IT EVER HAS. I’m a regular at the medspa for hydrafacial and peels and this hands down gave me the best results. Get through the first week after application and you will be blessed with clear, nearly poreless skin. My second and third applications didn’t result in purging, so I think with regular use it will be less scary!” — Sephora
At-Home Chemical Peel vs. Professional Chemical Peel
At-home chemical peels formulas have lower concentrations of acids (read: glycolic, lactic, salicylic), making them safer for at-home use. “In-office peels have stronger concentrations of acids, meaning greater immediate results,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “These need to be administered by a licensed practitioner, because of the potential to burn or irritate the skin,” she says.
How Often Should I Use an At-Home Chemical Peel?
“The biggest challenge is to not overwork the skin,” says Dr. Engelman. “Excessive exfoliation will expose skin, weaken skin-barrier function and trigger inflammation. If the barrier function is damaged, skin becomes vulnerable to infection from microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungus, and leads to sensitivity and irritation.”
As a rule of thumb, start slow. Use an at-home chemical peel once a week or once every other week to see how your skin tolerates it. Some products are super gentle and safe for every other day use, while others should only be used once every few weeks. (Editor’s note: If you decide to use an at-home chemical peel, it’s even more important to use one of the best sunscreen products, as they can make skin extra sensitive to the sun.)
Meet the Dermatologists
Dr. Dendy Engelman is a board certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue. Dr. Engelman attended Wofford College in South Carolina and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with honors with a double major in psychology and French. She also played on Wofford’s varsity volleyball team. Dr. Engelman earned the Presidential Scholar award while a medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina. She was also awarded the Humanism in Medicine Scholarship primarily for establishing and running a free medical care clinic in Charleston and in Haiti where she continues to serve on an annual mission with her family. Following medical school, Dr. Engelman completed her internship in Internal Medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan. In addition to a dermatology residency at the Medical University of South Carolina, Dr. Engelman completed a one-year fellowship in Mohs and dermatologic surgery, lasers, liposuction and vein treatments. She also has extensive training and experience in cosmetic dermatology – including neurotoxins, injectable fillers, and chemical peels. Most recently, Dr. Engelman was appointed Director of Dermatologic Surgery at New York Medical College where she oversees the training of future Mohs surgeons and dermatologists. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and American College of Mohs Surgery.
Dr. Dennis Gross is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon. Dr. Dennis Gross has been in practice for 25 years and is the founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology, an exclusive dermatology practice on 5th Avenue across from Central Park in Manhattan. A top-rated dermatologist, Dr. Dennis Gross is well known and has been featured as one of New York Magazine’s Best Doctors for his expertise in skin health as well as his approach to creating and maintaining the most natural-looking skin utilizing the very latest state-of-the-art cosmetic treatments and dermatologic technology. Dr. Dennis Gross is a regular invited guest on shows including Dr. OZ, The Today Show, The Doctors, CBS: The Early Show, and on CNN. Dr. Dennis Gross is also the founder of the award-winning and innovative skincare line Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare™, which is inspired by patients at the practice and is a bestseller at Sephora, Nordstrom, QVC and around the world. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare™ has been lauded for its innovative approach to skincare and home peeling treatments by every major magazine, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine. Dr. Gross published his first consumer book “Your Future Face: The Customized Plan to Look Younger at Any Age in 2004.