How can I get the best results from in-office peels?

Dear Dr Irwin, Thank you for your excellent website sharing unbaised skincare information. I am 37 years old and I interested in including medical grade peels and microdermabrasion into my skin-care routine, primarily to help with blackheads, but also to assist with overall skin texture over time. I understand from reading Paula Begoun's books that BHA and AHA products work most effectively within a certain pH range (approximately 3-4 for AHAs and 3 for BHAs. My question is, how can I go about selecting which skin care provider to use for a medical grade peel when information about the pH level of the products they use is difficult or impossible to access?

Your welcome!  I’m afraid that short of calling the companies and being very persistent, you really can’t be sure. The best thing to do is find reputable doctors who use companies with a long history of providing good products and trust them to do a good job. See my tips on how to find a good doctor and my regional guide to excellent cosmetic dermatologists

 pH generally isn’t an issue with microdermabrasion unless an infusion system is used with a glycolic solution.  Also, I like the peel systems that are self neutralizing – usually BHA peels because it eliminates operator error (leaving it on too long).  Look at the SkinMedica peel system which offers 3 different levels of BHA peel (available with your doctor).  Their products are well formulated. 

Almost more important though is sticking to a schedule and having realistic expectations.  Peels are good for surface issues like blackheads, some pigment problems or to refresh the skin but won’t make a difference in most wrinkles or generate any new deep collagen.  Occasionally they can make pigment problems worse!  Expect to do at least 2 or 3 before drawing any conclusions about their results for you.     Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!