What Peels Are Safe for African-American Skin?

I have a yellow/tan complexion (similar to Beyonce's), and I'd like to find out what peels are safe for me. I've searched for a long time for this answer and can't find the true answer (for example, some sites say TCA can be used, then some sites say TCA is not for non-white skin). Thank you for your answers!

Doctor Answers 17

TCA can be risky for African-American skin.

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I would start with a salicylic acid peel (20%) or Jessner's peel. These solutions tend to be less problematic for African-American skin. TCA peels in ethnic skin should be used with caution and I would not go higher than 10% TCA. If I was going to use TCA on African-American skin, I would probably do a small test spot and follow up in 1 month to ensure that it did not cause a pigmentary problem.

San Diego Dermatologist

Peels for African American Skin

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The issue with darker skin is not whether you can or cannot have a peel; the issue is how aggressive that peel is. That is, the more aggressive the peel the more likely you will have post-treatment hyperpigmentation. For example, a high strength TCA peel would not be for you, but a very low strength TCA peel or even a light glycolic peel could be used on your skin.

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Benefits of Chemical Peels

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Almost everyone can benefit from chemical peels.  You are no exception.  The most important thing to do is to find a dermatologist who has extensive experience with chemical peels so that they know how best to treat your skin.  I am from Miami originally and I can tell you there are a large number of very well-trained dermatologists there.  Please avoid the med-spas and non-dermatologist/plastic surgeon providers!

Victoria W. Serralta, MD
Arlington Dermatologic Surgeon

Chemical peels safe for African American skin

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There are a number of types of peels that can be performed safely and with excellent results on brown skin. The type of peel you get will depend on your problem, More importantly have your peel done by a licensed professional who is experienced doing chemical peels on brown skin. Steer clear of full phenol peels. Only have a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon do a TCA peel on you.

Dina D. Strachan, MD
New York Dermatologist

The depth of the peel should be matched to the depth of the problem you are trying to correct

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The type of peel appropriate for you depends upon what condition you are trying to improve. For a peel to work you need to match the depth of the peel to the depth of the problem. It is true that in darkly pigmented skin caution must be exercised with chemical peeling. A good initial peel to try is a Jessner's peel. This is an intra-epithelial peel. It would correct texture problems and make the skin smoother. You may also consider a treatment like microdermbrasion. Exercise caution and start slowly would be my best advice.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Peel Limitations

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In the medical community, we use what is called a Fitzpatrick scale. It is used to determine melanocyte (the cells that produce color) activity in the skin. For those patients that are a Fitzpatrick 1-3,  most chemicals are an option, providing all other criteria is met. Once you reach a Fitzpatrick 4, caution must be exercised. Generally speaking, inflammation can equal hyper-pigmentation, or brown spots. Even worse, there is the possibility of hypo-pigmentation, or loss of color. TCA solution would be taking a chance or risky, depending on where you fall in that scale of 4 or more. There are other chemicals or treatments (like microneedling) that are safer and more effective, depending on what your goals are.

Justin Harper, MD
Columbus Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Chemical Peels for African American Skin

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I have many patients with dark skin and the TCA peels that I perform in my office combined with specially formulated products such as those with Vitamin C and retinoids give beautiful results without any risk of depigmentation or hyper pigmentation.  Be sure to consult a specialist who understands that darker complexion skin is more sensitive and needs proper treatment.  Best, Dr. Green

Peels that are safe for African American skin

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Particularly our patented Alpha Beta Peel, which is gentle—yet effective enough—to be used on every patient’s skin. Sometimes, deeper peels can cause skin to become lighter (or darker in some fair-skinned patients) That's why it’s critical to go to a highly trained board-certified dermatologist to administer a deeper peel.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Safe Peels For African-American Skin

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The safety and efficacy of any chemical peel is dependent upon preparation, depth, post care and the experience of the clinician administering the peel.  When treating African-American skin and other ethnic skin types, prepping the skin for a chemical peel is a necessity.We routinely administer the Obagi Blue Peel ( a TCA peel)  on ethnic skin, but our patients must prep at least 4 weeks prior to the peel, are educated extensively on how to care for their skin post peel and encouraged to adhere to their prescribed skin care regimen to obtain optimal results. Now, every peel is not for everybody, but your clinician(after a thorough consultation) will be able to determine what peels are most suitable for your skin type. 

Many peels suitable for African-American Skin

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Peels come in all strengths and types. Yes, there are many peels that can be done on African-American skin types. It is important to first have your skin assessed by a medical professional, especially with your skin colour. Some side effects of receiving an incorrect treatment may be permanent. Glycolic and Lactic Peels generally don’t cause peeling and are great to start with. These peels will help improve skin tone, texture, pore size, oil production etc. In some cases stronger peels such as Salicylic acid and Resorcinol can safely be performed as well. Companies distributing these peels will all have different protocols regarding their individual peels so it’s important to receive a consultation prior to any treatment.

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.