When it comes to lightening dark spots, alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acid), beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are the most commonly used surface peels. Glycolic acid (GA) is the most popular alpha-hydroxy acid skin peel and is also known as a fruit peel. It is milder than other AHA peels and is safe to use, with minimal side effects. It is best suited for superficial hyperpigmentation as it does not penetrate deep into the skin.
AHA peels are also better for people with dry skin, and have been shown to be effective in treating dark spots at a concentration of 30-50%.For those with more severe acne, a beta peel with salicylic acid can help. Salicylic acid is ideal for exfoliation and oil control, as well as taking care of the bacteria that cause acne breakouts. Products containing this ingredient can help soothe, exfoliate and re-texturize skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines. The Jessner peel is another option, which involves applying an acidic liquid to the skin to remove the upper layers and encourage the growth of new, younger-looking skin. It is important to remember to apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher after a chemical peel, as they increase sun sensitivity. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is an important limiting factor for treatment procedures such as lasers and chemical peels.
TCA peels may be as effective as GA peels for treating dyschromia pigmentosa, but caution should be exercised when using them on dark skin due to a higher frequency of adverse effects. Salicylic acid peels are less likely to cause more dark spots than other types of peels because they are anti-inflammatory. Platinum Skin Care offers a chemical peel with the equivalent of 30% glycolic acid, plus lactic acid, salicylic acid and tartaric acid. This type of peel is better suited to deeper deposits of melanin, as it penetrates deeper than other peels. Although treating melasma on dark skin is challenging, chemical peels with some precautions can offer great satisfaction for both the patient and the treating physician. The exfoliating solution is left on the face until the next morning, unlike traditional alpha-hydroxy peels that require immediate neutralization.
All TCA peels (except 30%) include cold-acting menthol to soothe stinging and reduce irritation for a more comfortable exfoliation experience. Even weak over-the-counter peels can effectively treat dark spots, and higher-concentration peels are only needed for deep dark spots. Several over-the-counter chemical peels claim to reduce acne scars, and a person can purchase them online or in stores such as pharmacies. If peels are used, a light peel with BHA such as salicylic acid is best for black skin, as it is gentle and anti-inflammatory.