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IPL Photofacial vs. Chemical Peel: Which is right for you?

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Two really effective treatments, each with their own benefits and drawbacks: how do you choose?


Both IPL photofacials and chemicial peels (or low ph peels as we like to call them here at Lift Laser and Beauty) are standards in treating excess pigmentation. Chemical Peels (such a tough word to digest, I know) or sometimes called Acid Peels (also hard to digest which is why we like to call them Low pH Peels - which is exactly what they are and much more palatable to say and hear, lol) in addition to tackling tough hyperpigmentation are powerhouses at resurfacing.


IPL photofacials are renowned for evening overall tone, managing acne, and minimizing fine lines while tending to sun spots, age spots (which are pretty much the same thing) other pigmentation issues.


Let me walk you through some of the nitty gritty here.

IPL Photofacial: A Non-Invasive Light Therapy IPL photofacial, often referred to as photorejuvenation, is a non-invasive treatment designed to target sun damage, hyperpigmentation, redness, and visible blood vessels. Here's how it works:

  1. Light-Based Technology: IPL utilizes a broad spectrum of light to penetrate the skin's surface, targeting pigment and stimulating collagen production.

  2. Minimal Downtime: You're going to have some of your pigmentation darken and that will be visible. But, overall, you won't look too different during the healing phases.

  3. Gradual Results: You can expect to see improvements in skin tone over a couple of sessions. IPL works gradually. In order to protect your skin, we treat you over a series of sessions to safely work on minimizing your pigmentation.

  4. Mild Discomfort: There are some feels to this one. More like a little zap than anything else, it's pretty easy to tolerate.

Chemical Peel: A Controlled Skin Exfoliation A chemical peel is a treatment in which a low pH solution is applied to the skin's surface. This could be glycolic, lactic, mandelic, salicylic, resourcinol, TCA, polyphenol or combinations thereof. These solutions exfoliate the outermost layer of skin, revealing fresher, healthier skin beneath. Here's what you should know:

Day two of the healing process from a medium depth chemical peel
Day two of a medium depth Jessner and TCA chemical peel

  1. Versatility: This is the part we love the most. Chemical (or low pH) peels come in different solutions at different strengths, allowing for total customization to address any client's skin concerns, including acne scars, fine lines, and uneven skin tone.

  2. Quick Results: Peels often provide full results in under a week. After the initial shedding period, which can vary depending on the peel's depth and individual healing times, clients can generally enjoy their new look within a week of treatment.

  3. Downtime Varies: The level of peeling and downtime depends on the type and strength of solution used. Superficial peels usually involve minimal downtime, while deeper peels may require more recovery time. Because there is such a variety of peel solutions and strengths, each client's peel process can be customized to their tolerance for downtime.

  4. Sensation During Treatment: This one has some serious feels to it. I'm not going to lie. There's about 45 seconds to a minute that you'll experience some good stingley heat. This subsides within about a minute. It's absolutely tolerable but it's not free of discomfort.

Which one solves your issues best with the right combination of effect, downtime, discomfort? Beyond which combination of the above suits you best, the next thing to consider is number of sessions, maintenance and side effects.

  • Number of sessions: IPL done well by a professional is a slow roll, a delicate dance of safety and gusto. Clients should settle in for a couple of sessions, depending on the complexity of their issues. Peels are so diverse that it really depends on the clients tolerance for downtime. In general, clients will typically require fewer peels - but the downtime is very different from that of IPL. If you're mainly dealing with sun damage, redness, or visible blood vessels, an IPL photofacial might be the better choice. However, for sun damage, pigmentation and issues like fine lines, acne scars, or uneven skin texture, a chemical peel (or series of) could yield the desired results.

  • Downtime: Consider how much downtime you can tolerate. If you're looking for minimal interruption to your daily life, IPL photofacials may be the treatment for you. For clients willing to undergo a bit more recovery for quicker results, a chemical peel might be the way to go.

  • Maintenance: This is very dependant on how clients go about their daily lives post-treatment. Both are going to require sunscreen as a requirement. Meticulous use and reapplicaiton of high spf sunscreen is absolutely mandatory. Maintenance will depend on how clients manage this.

  • Side effects: this is closley linked with downtime and maintenance. This is the list of not great things: you could scar if you pull your peeling skin, you will be more photosensitive after IPL and absolutely must be vigilant about suncreen to prevent reoccurance. There is a slight risk of hyperpigmetnation if you expose your newly peeled skin to the sun without spf protection or from your IPL treatment. Peels can sometimes cause a breakout.

So, what did we learn here? Both IPL Photofacials and Chemical Peels are excellent treatments, The choice between the two comes down to the specific skin concerns clients want to address, comfort level with downtime and sensation during treatment. Meticuolus sunscreen habits are mandatory post treatment to prevent adverse reactions and reoccurrance.


If you have more questions you can connect with us by email on the contact page. If you're thirsty for all the info you can read, check out this blog for more!


Lift Laser and Beauty is a boutique medical aesthetics space providing services in the heart of downtown Chilliwack and Kelowna. We offer a variety of services for your skin's health and appearance. Welcoming you, where you're at on your skin care and aging journey in an open, honest, casual space is our signature.

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