What Chemical Peel is Best to Even Skin Tone and Clear Acne on Dark Skin?

I am an African American male and want to even out my skin tone more specifically my face and neck which is noticeably darker than the rest of my body. I also have want to clear up the the acne and acne marks on my face, back, and shoulders. What chemical peel is most effective and safe for these things?

Doctor Answers 6

Chemical peels help acne and pigmentation

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A series of chemical peels in combination with skin care regimen and a medical program would likely be a great solution for both your acne and uneven skin tone. Great choices for chemical peels are Jessner's peels and salicylic acid or beta-hydroxy acid peels. Often these peels are combined with hydroquinone to enhance the skin lightening effect. Often peels are the best choice for acne on hard to reach areas such as the back. I would see a board certified dermatologist in order to get the most comprehensive care. There really are great topical products and peels that do a lot to help you acheive your goal of clearer more even skin.

Jessner's or light TCA peels do well for darker complexions

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Jessner's solution or light TCA peels do well for discolorations and acne but usually need to be done 5-6 times at 2-3 week intervals for about $175-250 each and are so worth it for darker complexioned individuals.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

How to lighten uneven skin tones following acne in an AfroAmerican male

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A combination of sunscreen, hydroquinone, and retinoid would be an adjuvant to any peeling regimen. Multiple agents are available to achieve superficial peeling. Among them TCA, glycolic acid and salicylic acid. All can achieve very good results in pigment disorders in people of color.

The most important decision is to find a dermatologist who has experience in these peeling agents. Even a superficial peel when applied improperly can cause complications such as increased pigment. Knowledge and experience in your physician is critical to your success.

Pamela Carr, MD
Sugar Land Dermatologic Surgeon

Theraplex salicylic acid a good start

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I would recommend a comprehensive skin care program that incorporates retinoids and perhaps bleaching agents, and of course, sunscreen everyday.

Theraplex peels are very safe for darker skin. I also like the SilkPeel dermal infusion procedure using salicylic acid and hydroquinone or Lumixyl.

There are many options, but one thing is for certain: see a board certified dermatologist to guide you through the choices.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Important to understand the limitations of these methods

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The mild peels can help. Often the inflammation associated with acne causes post imflammatory hyperpigmentation and due to the depth of the pigmentation, improving this can be difficult without the risk of damaging natural skin color which is always a concern. It is helpful to have ongoing skin care directed at controlling acne to help limit new issues.

A dermatologist interested in managing acne is a good place to start. They can also discuss with you approaches to help you skin where it has been damaged by past inflammation. Some of this may be covered by health insurance and some may not be covered. Finally, understand that the safer mild peels will help open the pores which improved skin tone and decrease active acne but it will not address all the issues.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Salicylic acid peel is best for acne prone skin

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Salicylic acid peels have proven to be best for acne-prone skin since they are better at penetrating deeply into the hair follicles, getting to the root of acne. They're also great for decreasing the darker spots on the face (medically known as post-inlammatory hyperpigmentation) that occur after acne lesions resolve. These dark spots are usually not permanent, but may take 6-12 months to fully fade.

Salicylic acid peels work best as a series of 3-6 peels, each performed around 4 weeks apart.

Chad L. Prather, MD
Baton Rouge Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.