Skip to main content

Jessner Peel Photos: Before & After Guide to Chemical Peels

The Beauty Blogger's "Before & After" Guide to Chemical Peels - Updated 12/5/18

Since posting my Jessner peel photos, detailing the stages of the process, and writing my chemical peel blog review back in 2013, I've had quite a few Jessner peels (my favorite) and TCA peels. However, I've saved a ton of money over the past 6 months by doing my own chemical peels at home. At my last professional peel, I made a note of the product being used and did some research when I got home. I was able to buy the exact same one, Dermalure Jessner Solution Acid Peel 14%, from Amazon for less than the cost of a single peel. I also use Dermalure's AHA/BHA Acne Cleanser, which I apply before the Jessner. (Side note: There's currently a 1-star review for the at-home peel that complains "I had to deal with days upon days of gross peeling and flakey chunks of skin falling off my face (and I have super oily skin). If I happened to laugh really hard on a particular day or take a big bite out of my food, well guess what? The skin around my mouth and cheeks would split apart and I'd have very visible pieces of cracked skin running across my face." As you're about to see from my photos below, THAT'S HOW A PEEL WORKS!) The product is self-neutralizing, despite what the Amazon listing says, and couldn't be simpler. The best results are achieved by completing a series of peels, which isn't always feasible when you're working around someone else's schedule. Plus, paying someone else to apply the peels can get pretty expensive, pretty fast! That said...

I'm not sure I'd recommend going the DIY route to a chemical peel newbie, as you're already nervous enough the first time without the added worry of doing it yourself. It's so convenient (and cost-effective!) once you're comfortable with the chemical peel process though. I love being able to spiff up my complexion on my own schedule and from the comfort of my own home.

If you're unsure whether to invest in a peel performed by a beauty professional or attempt to tackle your own, ZenMed sells a Glycolic acid solution that is gentle enough to use daily. It's like a gradual peel, rather that one that will provide instant results. I've used it on and off for about a year. It isn't my favorite ZenMed product, but it's good enough that I'll probably repurchase it when I run out.

Oh, and if you're up for a lighthearted Jessner peel warning (and a laugh), check out A Nightmare Jessner Peel Side Effect. I learned my lesson.

Okay, on to my original blog post:

Considering a chemical peel? I recently underwent my first Jessner peel and thought I'd share my results, post a Jessner peel review, and answer some frequently asked chemical peel questions. (I'm guessing that "Does a chemical peel hurt?" is a biggie!) I'd been planning to order an over-the-counter peel (this one specifically, which I heard of when we were in Iceland. I still haven't tried it but it has great reviews), but my computer led me a different direction.

I decided to do this on a whim after LivingSocial greeted me one morning with a great $40 chemical peel deal.

Now, I can read your mind. You just gasped in horror and thought You trusted your face to a discount chemical peel?! You're wondering where my mother was and why she didn't stop me. But not to worry. Really!

Here is my Jessner peel before and after:

jessner peel photos before and after
Chemical Peel Before & After

Also known as "EEEK!" and "Oooh, Ahhh"

Not too shabby, right? To be fair, the "before" is extra bad because the Jessner peel had just been done and I'm making my "not sure sharing this on the internet is such a good idea/my skin is ruined" face and my "after" was taken right before leaving for work, about a week and a half after the procedure. These photos are not retouched or Photoshopped, but I am wearing makeup in one and not in the other. Still, it's hard to argue against getting a chemical peel after seeing the results. 

I would love to do a few more chemical peels soon (I've read that a series of 6, spaced about a month apart, yields the best results) and have been diligently scouring Groupon and LivingSocial. Maybe some smart Albuquerque dermatologist is reading this Jessner peel review right now, realizing that giving free chemical peels to me in exchange for a sponsored blog post is a super deal that will increase their business (hint, hint, whoever you are!).

Shameless, aren't I? Anyway, I wouldn't say the results after only 1 peel are drastic enough that people are going to stop in their tracks when they see you, but you can definitely see a change when looking up close in a mirror. Your face looks "fresh", which makes sense because a chemical peel works by peeling off all your old skin. It's like an extreme exfoliation, achieving results you can't get from microdermabrasion. In fact, now that I've had a chemical peel, I feel like the few times I've paid for a microdermabrasion (also Groupon!) were a waste of money. The two procedures cost about the same and the results are just not comparable.

Feel free to comment if you have a question I haven't answered. I'm happy to help! Keep in mind, of course, that everything here is my own opinion from my own chemical peel experience. If you have a special medical condition or have had an adverse reaction to a beauty treatment before, I would absolutely check with an expert before undergoing a Jessner chemical peel.

Now, let's get those questions answered!

Does a chemical peel/Jessner peel hurt?

In my experience, it didn't hurt at all. The sensation was like the slight burn you feel after applying astringent to your face. Maybe a teenie bit more extreme, like if you'd exfoliated before using the astringent. It's not something they're going to start offering at Disneyland, but it's nothing to cry about. I might just be an oddball though. Really, it does seem like brushing acid onto your face would hurt, right?

Before starting, the woman who did my peel insisted that I tell her how much pain I was in. She would apply a little of the Jessner peel solution and have me report on a scale of 1 (fine and dandy) to 10 (want to rip my skin off) how bad my face felt. After the first layer, I told her I was a 2. I actually felt pretty normal, except for the areas around my lips and at the top of my cheeks, which were warm and tingly. She seemed startled by my low number. She fanned cool air onto my skin, which I've read online is standard chemical peel procedure. I didn't feel like it made much difference - it was actually a little bit annoying! The next layer was applied and I was asked to report on the 1 to 10 scale again. I felt the same as before, but the woman had seemed so surprised earlier that I didn't want to admit to it. I told her I was a 2.5.

Ultimately, 3 layers of Jessner peel solution were applied and my pain level maxed out at a 2.75 (which, looking back, surely drove the woman applying my peel completely crazy!) It felt like the skin around my mouth and at the top of my cheeks was hot, which I told the woman as each layer was applied.

Recovering from the peel wasn't particularly bad either. The worst part was that my face felt uncomfortably tight and slightly itchy. It looked like all the moisture had been sucked out of it, leaving a desert of scorched skin. Every little wrinkle and crease was magnified. It felt somewhat like a sunburn. Speaking of which, I'd heard a common chemical peel side effect is that your face becomes bright red for a few days to weeks, but I didn't experience that problem. My skin was red immediately after the peel, but was mostly back to its regular shade within a few hours.

jessner peel side effects
This picture shows the first stage of the Jessner peel process. The circled areas were the most affected by the peel and took the longest time to heal. Since these were the same parts of my face that had been hot/tingly during the procedure, I was concerned that maybe the peel had been too strong in these areas and that I might have permanent scarring or discoloration. The top of my cheeks looked like they had been burned! Everything turned out fine though and, before disappearing, the redness was only noticeable without makeup.

How should I prepare for a chemical peel?

Exfoliate like crazy! I hadn't been sure whether or not to do this beforehand (and, silly me, it never crossed my mind to look it up online or to simply call and ask) so I did a sort of haphazard exfoliation beforehand, with St. Ives Apricot Scrub, unsure whether doing so was harmful or helpful. When I arrived for my peel, I was asked whether I wanted to start with a microdermabrasion to improve the results. I've been kicking myself ever since!

Also, it's good to arrive for your chemical peel with a clean face, free of makeup, and to stock up on sunscreen beforehand. You'll also want to have a gentle moisturizer for later. I checked with the woman who did my peel about whether I should skip my usual moisturizer, which contains retinol, for a week or so afterward. She just about fell over! You must not use retinol right after doing a chemical peel.

How do you do your own Jessner peels at home? (2/27/18 Update)

Using the same product a dermatologist had used on me (this one), I start by exfoliating and cleansing my skin. The exfoliation helps achieve a deeper peel and the cleanser ensures I am starting with a clean face. When my skin is dry, I do the following:

1. Wipe an acne solution onto my face and neck. (This one.) This is a completely optional step. I do it because the company recommended it for my acne-prone skin type.

2. Put vaseline on my lips and around my the bottom of my nostrils to protect these sensitive areas from the Jessner solution. 

2. Apply Jessner peel solution to a cotton ball or cotton pad. (Don't overly saturate - I don't want it to be dripping, lest it get in my eyes! I'm not sure what happens if you get Jessner peel in your eyes, but I suspect it's a nightmare.)

3. Wipe the cotton ball/pad over my face, starting with my forehead and working my way down to my neck. There's no need to be gentle on this first layer - a little scrubbing is fine. Wash your hands when you're done, otherwise your palms will feel annoyingly dry. You can do a peel on the back of your hands while you're doing your face, but it's tricky to get the solution on the back while simultaneously keeping it off the front. For the best results on your hands, enlist the help of another person.

4. Stop here or wait 5-10 minutes before repeating step 3. I always apply 3 layers of the Jessner peel solution, which I'm told is the maximum you should do. It's sufficient for my face to frost and to peel.

5. That's it! The product I use is self-neutralizing (I think all Jessner peels are, but double check to be sure if you use a different brand, just to be safe), so there's nothing else to apply and no need to wash it off. Actually, you shouldn't wash it off. The longer you can go without showering or cleaning your face, the better. (Well, up to 24 hours. Don't skip bathing for the next 14 days.) I usually make it about 12 hours.

Note: Sometimes the stinging/burning feels very mild to me and sometimes it feels unbearable, like my skin is being eaten away by acid. (Probably because it is being eaten away by acid. Fair enough.) To reduce the stinging, it helps to cool my face by standing in front of a fan. 

How long does a Jessner peel take?

I was in the office for just over 30 minutes, from the time I walked through the door to the time I left.

You're only 29. Isn't that too young for a chemical peel?

Nope! If you've been reading my blog, you might have seen my posts Who Wants Pretty Skin? I Do! I Do! and I'm in Therapy. The skin on my face apparently hates me and only responds to being beaten into submission and blasted by microscopic laser beams. As a teenager, I hoped (and, to be honest, somewhat expected) that my embarrassing cystic acne would magically disappear on my 18th birthday. Eleven years later, my annoying skin problem continues to flare up about once a month, leaving dark spots that have barely faded by the time the next month's round of acne fun comes along.

Acne is bad enough when you're in high school and everyone else is dealing with the same problem. It's especially awkward as an adult, trying to look professional at work while your boss "helpfully" suggests that your skin would clear right up if you stopped eating chocolate altogether. 

Like heck I'm giving up chocolate. You give up your chocolate!

What were the results of your chemical peel?

My pores looked smaller and clean. My face seemed "brighter", like if I'd gotten a good night's sleep. Dark spots from recent breakouts literally peeled off with my old skin, leaving a mostly even skin tone in their place. There is a wrinkle on my forehead that I've had for as long as I can remember. It's still there, of course, but it isn't as deep. An unexpected bonus was that when my next monthly breakout session rolled around, it was barely noticeable. I would love to be able to do regular Jessner peels just to keep my acne under control.

When is the best time to do a chemical peel? (Also, what does the worst stage of a chemical peel look like?)

I've heard that women are more sensitive to pain during their period, so if you have a low pain tolerance, you might want to factor that in when trying to decide when to do a chemical peel. Schedule a peel for when you have time away from work and other social commitments. I wouldn't do one with anything less than a 3 day weekend. Although my peel didn't hurt, I was shocked to see my face in the mirror immediately afterward. It was bright red and looked terrible. This is not a lunchtime cosmetic procedure. You also need to avoid getting sweaty for several days after the peel, lest your sweat become trapped between the fresh layer of skin below and the crispy layer above. (Yuck!)

The first time I had a Jessner peel, I actually had 5 days off from work, including the day of the peel. As a bonus, Sexy Nerd just happened to have a business trip scheduled at the same time, meaning he wouldn't have to see me shuffling around our house like the undead. Hooray! Although it seems like everything was timed perfectly, I wish I'd planned things on a different timescale. The peel was done at 3pm on Thursday and I was needed back at work Tuesday. Perfect, right? Wrong! Although I wouldn't have wanted to return to work that same day, my skin actually looked relatively decent on Friday. It was nothing makeup couldn't have covered. The peeling didn't actually begin until Saturday night.

My timing couldn't have been much worse. After a 5 day weekend, the peeling really started to go nuts on Tuesday morning - just in time for me to go to work. It figures, right? Sometimes, it seems like the universe is just being a jerk. I tried to cover my peeling skin with concealer, foundation, and powder (anything I could think of) but it isn't something that can be hidden. And, as the woman who applied the peel made very clear, you must never, ever pick at the peeling skin or you'll risk scarring.

I walked around work all day with giant pieces of skin hanging from my chin, cheeks, and forehead, looking like someone had pressed my face to a cheese grater. Even worse? I kept finding little bits that had fallen off stuck to my shirt and around my desk. It was like the world's worst case of dandruff, but from my face.

photo of jessner peeling
The peeling process continues. Sorry, you're just going to have to go to work like this!

(Even worse, this photo is from Sunday, before my peeling got too wild.)

With a chemical peel, timing is everything!


For best results, consult a medical or skin professional, which I am not. This blog post shares my personal experience with chemical peels and should in no way be interpreted as medical advice.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it...wait, do I really want my gross, peely skin plastered all over the internet? The things I do for this site.

7/23/18 Update: Be sure to check back here in a few weeks. I am currently undergoing Kybella to melt away, or however they magically make it go away, the fat in my hereditary double chin. I've survived the first treatment, which was surprisingly painless (well, painless compared to the horror stories I'd read online) and have just one treatment to go. I'm also trying the Almased diet and will be blogging about the results. After 3 days of a liquid fast, I lost 4 pounds...then promptly gained 5 pounds immediately after moving on to the next stage of the diet! It is not going well.

12/29/18 Update: A blog post about my Kybella experience and an Almased review are both coming soon. Really! I've now completed two Kybella treatments and, although I was initially skeptical, my hereditary double chin actually is gone. And it didn't even hurt! Why doesn't everyone do Kybella?? (Probably because it's overpriced due to shady practitioners - more on this in my review.) As for the Almased? Eh, it's okay. I think there are other diet drink options that work just as well for a much lower cost, including the Vitacost version of Almased called Enersed. I've tried both - detailed review coming soon.

About Kitty Deschanel

About Kitty Deschanel
I'm a freelance writer who believes in infusing all topics, from Jessner peels to chronic insomnia, with a dose of humor. Thanks to their endless shenanigans, my Sexy Nerd (SN) and our "children", Pica and Biscuit, make frequent appearances on my blog. I have written for major brands including Dove, Anheuser-Busch, and Jimmy Dean and my work has been featured on Huffington Post. Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @KittyDeschanel.

Popular Posts from Kitty Deschanel:

Amerisleep Promo Code

Best Amerisleep Promo Code as of : $250 Off, plus free shipping both ways...not that you'll want to return it.

This is the ultimate Amerisleep mattress blog post, featuring unbiased reviews collected over more than 7 years of ownership, photos, videos, FAQs, and more. As a chronic insomniac (yes, even as a baby - my family insists I was a nightmare), the struggle to improve my sleep night after night is my life.

Q. How Long Does an Amerisleep Mattress Last?
A. We purchased our first Amerisleep mattress, a king-size AS3, in January of 2012. It is still like-new today, as proven by a test with a level (below). We have not babied this bed - we even jump on it! (Also below.) Can a memory foam mattress last 20 years? At this rate, I have no doubt that our Amerisleeps can.
Q. Is Amerisleep a Good Mattress?
A. We have recommended Amerisleep to our friends and family. Since making our initial purchase, we have personally ordered 3 more Amerisleep mattresses for our new home. The new ones we…

Instant Pot Explosion

While you're here, please be sure to check out my Instant Pot recipes: Creamy Enchilada Rice and Cranberry Oatmeal with Quinoa
We love our Instant Pot, the digital pressure cooker that seems to suddenly be in every home. You can't mess up - just throw in random ingredients and you'll get something yummy every time. It's foolproof. At least, that's how I used to feel about our Instant Pot, until the explosion...

Instapot Explosion

Ack! We just moved in and look what I've already done to my brand new, all-white kitchen!
I tried to re-seal the vent but the pressure was too high to cooperate. I'm honestly not sure what went wrong with this batch of oatmeal. I've made it a million times. The Instant Pot was only about halfway full.

Here is the link to my extra-healthy Super Oatmeal Instant Pot recipe, in case you are curious or a fan of the delicious. It probably won't explode when you make it.
Oatmeal? More like a batch of tasty homemade glue.
 I was b…

Dream Home Dreaming

We've finally broken ground on our mountain dream home! Can you believe it? Even more surprising, we actually managed to work a good chunk of this list into our actual design. See below for details.

*Another Update*
We've finished construction and are finally living in our mountain dream home and it's even better than I'd hoped! Here is a sneak-peak of our new kitchen and living room. Click the "Decorating" button above for more photos.

Believe it or not, our budget was meager. Really! My husband built the coffee table from an olive trunk and did the thin brick backsplash himself. Eventually, he's going to take the brick all the way to the top of the ceiling. He also created the three-tier chandeliers (three chandeliers total - yeah, he's pretty great!). 
I was responsible for all of the shopping and decorating decisions and design details and layout. We had the tongue-and-groove installed upside down (rough-side down) with Sherwin Williams H…

A Nightmare Jessner Peel Side Effect

Almost as popular as my Amerisleep mattress reviews, the Jessner chemical peel post here on my blog has been a reader favorite for years. I'm still doing my own peels at home and still recommend this to anyone concerned about acne scars or wrinkles. However, last night I did have a Jessner peel scare.

As written before, timing is everything with a chemical peel. You don't want pieces of dead skin (yuck, right?) flaking off at work or at important social events. I've wanted to do one for months but things kept getting in the way, like extra days spent at work and our recent trip to California. Finally, last night I was able to treat myself to an at-home Jessner peel. (Using this product from Amazon, in case you want to try it for yourself.) I've done this so many times that the steps are automatic. I applied three layers of Jessner solution, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. Snuggled into our new mattress and a mountain of blankets, I fell into a deep sleep. I dreamed…

Family Size Bed (Because a King Mattress is Too Small)

Look! Up In The Sky! It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's...

(cue suspenseful music)

What's bigger than a king-size Amerisleep mattress? An Amerisleep Superbed!

As you know, my nerdy engineer husband, SN, and I recently ordered two new twin XL mattresses from Amerisleep. The AS4 bed didn't work out for us (too soft and mushy for our taste) but we loved the extra-firm AS2 bed. It's perfect for people who sleep on their back (SN) and on their stomach (me). SN liked it even better than the AS3 bed we'd slept on since 2012 and I thought it was at least equal to that mattress, which is now making our relatives happy in the guest bedroom. The AS2 costs a little less than the AS3 and a lot less than the AS4. Who would have thought the less expensive option would be the better choice, right? Money really doesn't buy happiness.
(Okay, in all honesty, I think I prefer the AS3 just a hair over the AS2. Your first choice is usually the right choice.)

We loved our …

Now Accepting Paid Guest Blogging Submissions

Enjoy reading Kitty Deschanel? Now is your opportunity to write for one of your favorite blogs!

Guest Blogging Benefits

Make extra income. Unlike most websites that accept content from guest authors, allows one affiliate link per article. It's like placing your ad on my site, absolutely free.Gain backlinks to your website. You're on your way to the top (of Google), baby.Expand your audience and grow your brand awareness. Posts are shared with thousands through Twitter and Facebook. Content permitting, posts will also be shared via Pinterest and Instagram.Receive a "Featured On" badge for your portfolio.Guest Blogging Submission Guidelines Posts must be original, non-duplicated content. Don't tempt Google to penalize your site and mine with a rerun.You must have the rights to any photos, social share graphics, videos, infographics, etc. used in your post. Saving an image from Google does not make it yours. Stealing content from others and trying to…

Flooring Ideas

Ever since we purchased our 13.1 acre (gotta get credit for that extra 0.1 acre!) lot outside of Albuquerque last year, Sexy Nerd and I have devoted most of our free time to planning our mountain dream home.

We cannot make a decision about anything. At this point, it seems our best option would be to build a row of townhomes, each in a completely different style. On Monday, we would live in our colorful Victorian home, and later in the week we could switch things up in our ultra-contemporary, all concrete house.

Since I can't imagine our neighborhood HOA (or our budget) ever allowing such a thing, we really do need to narrow down our list of ideas.

Flooring is a tough choice. In our current home, we have premium laminate flooring. It stands up well against our rambunctious dogs, but is easily damaged if you unknowingly drip water onto it and let it sit, like by the dog's water bowl and the dishwasher. We also have real wood flooring on our stairs and our bedroom sitting area,…

5 Ways to Make Your Flu Recovery Faster and Easier

I have the flu, so this is going to be a short post. Never mind that I often skip blogging altogether when I am healthy. (Update: This turned out to be a pretty decent post. Yay sick me!)

I should be at work today and not at home witnessing how stupid our dogs are. Pica just yawned and the sound caused Biscuit to bark, which made Pica bark. Now they are both barking hysterically at the glass front door. (Yes, glass front door. It is super obvious that there is no one there.) (Update: UPS just dropped off 2 packages and neither dog had any idea.)

1. Water tastes gross.

You know you're supposed to stay hydrated when you have the flu. Staying hydrated is never a problem for me. I love water...except that when you have the flu, water tastes gross. Like, you can taste the sickness. The universe has a cruel sense of humor sometimes. If you're caring for someone with the flu (hint, hint, SN), bring them hot tea with honey, juice, a smoothie, water with those fizzy Emergen-C packets, so…

A Healthier New Year for Sexy Nerd

Sexy Nerd recently started a new program through work that requires a lot of traveling. He gets sick of all the time wasted at airports, but loves the many meals his company pays for. Fresh seafood in San Francisco. Prime rib in Seattle. Burnt ends in Kansas City. He's been living it up!

After his most recent, week-long trip away from home, I decided to play the role of pesky wife and insisted that he step on the scale.

Surely you knew there'd be consequences for eating out for every meal, didn't you, Sexy Nerd?
The men in Sexy Nerd's family have a history of heart attacks at a young age, so a couple extra pounds is nothing to play around with. I planned to get him back on track by cooking healthy meals when he was home. I was all set to make a scrumptious breakfast of oatmeal with chia seeds (really, it's delicious!) when Sexy Nerd walked in with a bag of groceries. In our almost 7 years as a couple, this was maybe the 2nd time he has ever done any grocery shoppi…