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At-home peels
These are "retexturizing" masks or cloth pads containing AHAs and/or BHAs in concentrations of 8 percent to 15 percent glycolic acid, 5 percent to 12 percent lactic acid, and 2 percent salicylic acid. Peels exfoliate in the same way as AHA and BHA lotions, but because they're more potent, they yield slightly more dramatic results. If skin is very rough or dull, an at-home peel can work better and quicker than other nonprescription methods. With stronger formulas, there's greater potential for irritation. If you apply too much product, use a peel too often, or use it in conjunction with other strong exfoliating agents, skin could peel too deeply, leaving you red for days. Light tingling or burning is common (it shouldn't last longer than a few minutes) as is temporary redness (an hour or so). Cost: $4 to $124.

Professional peels
Three levels of peels—light, medium, and deep—that consist of one acid or a combination of acids in high concentrations. Typically performed on face, chest, or hands. Medium and deep peels help correct the effects of long-term sun damage: wrinkles, thinning skin, hyperpigmentation, and precancerous cells. In all professional peels, the acids "burn" the skin to trigger a repair response. Light peels affect only the epidermis, and it's safe to get one every six weeks. The results from just one medium or deep peel can last from months to years. If improving skin texture is your only goal, medium and deep peels aren't for you. Skin is red for up to three weeks, and usually a surface crust forms. This falls off after a week, and the redness turns to pink, which can last one to three months. Deep peels may require local anesthesia or pain medication. Cost: $150 to $250 for light peels; $1,200 to $3,500 for medium and deep peels.


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