Double Peeling Skin Protocol

Salicylic and Lactic peel protocol
After months of fun under the sun, clients come to the spa to improve their skin tone, texture and radiance. Chemical peels are an economical way to achieve these rejuvenating results at any time of year. The following protocol is a guideline for professionals to use when choosing to administer a double peel facial.  

Superficial peel solutions are formulated to remove dead skin cells up to 0.06 mm (thickness equivalent to a fine strand of hair). This measurement depends on the formulation of the peel and the applications performed. Medium-depth peels, such as Jessner’s, can span into the papillary dermis and encourage flushing and light frosting. Knowing the difference between superficial and medium-depth peels helps you operate within the scope of your license, and accurately assess how much downtime the client may experience. Deep peels fall outside an esthetician’s scope of practice. 


Layering chemical peel formulations can maximize the results of a peel treatment. Chemical peels come in a variety of formulations to help customize a treatment. Determine what skin issues your client suffers from to provide a service that improves skin health, while also addressing their individual aging concerns. The following issues can be helped with a layered treatment combination: 

  • fine lines 
  • dehydration 
  • age spots 
  • thick skin 
  • rough texture 
  • hyperpigmentation 
  • oily skin 
  • acne 
  • wrinkles 



Percentage, pH, and buffer are all taken into consideration in determining a peel combination. In our research, we've found that the Salicylic Peel and Lactic Peel are the best choices for this protocol. Make sure you are familiar with the peel solutions you use, and monitor each client’s reaction to the treatment. 

While layering two peels is a highly effective way to rejuvenate the skin, sometimes the client’s skin will not tolerate a second layer of solution. The esthetician can determine this through the following observation: Rather than setting the timer on your peel solution, simply monitor the client’s skin. 


Essential signs that a client’s skin may already be over-exfoliated include the following: 

  • excessive flushing 
  • regional redness 
  • increased warmth 
  • tingling, burning, or itching sensations 

If any of these symptoms occur, don’t administer a second peel layer. Instead, apply a light layer Post Peel Balm to the inflamed areas and proceed with the facial.  



 1. Pre-peel consultation 

When qualifying a client for any procedure, perform a thorough consultation and skin assessment to determine what skin issues your client suffers from, and provide a service targeted to your client’s individual skin issues. Essential pre-treatment forms alert you to any contraindications for a chemical peel, and ensure a beneficial outcome. Include the following points of analysis and questions in your consultation: 

  • What signs of sun damage do you see in the skin? 
  • Is dehydration a factor in this treatment? 
  • Does the client’s skin feel thick or thin? 
  • Is the client using a bleaching cream or retinoid? 
  • How much sun exposure does the client receive in a day/week/ month? 
  • Do they have a special occasion coming up that will subject their skin to prolonged sun exposure? 
  • Finally, let the client know that they may experience light tingling, warmth, or flushing during the treatment. 

A simple “pinch” test can help gauge the thickness of the client’s skin and determine if dehydration is a factor in the treatment. Resting your index fingers at the arch of each brow and thumbs at the hairline, give the forehead a slight pinch and release. Does it take long for the skin to bounce back? Is there a sheen from superficial dead skin cells? If so, you may be facing a combination of dehydration and thinning skin. Layering chemical peel solutions removes dehydrated and dead skin cells to soften the appearance of wrinkles and folds while improving skin tone and texture.

 2. Cleanse, tone, and prepare peel 

Choose a cleanser and toner that best suit your client’s skin type. Massage the cleanser over the face and down to the neck and décolleté for a relaxing start to the facial treatment. 

3. Apply first layer and neutralize 

Apply a light and even layer of Salicylic Peel to the face, neck, and décolleté. Observe the client’s skin for flushing, frosting, or other reaction. Salicylic acid helps detach dead skin cells to immediately brighten the skin while stimulating cell proliferation, and activating fibroblasts. 

4. Apply second layer and neutralize 

Apply a light and even layer of Lactic Peel in the same manner. Lactic acid has a large molecular structure, and doesn’t penetrate as rapidly as a glycolic acid. In this procedure, the lactic helps polish the skin surface. Neutralize the peel with caution as this second peel may increase sensitivity. Avoid performing extractions. 

5. Perform a light facial massage, then apply a calming mask. Opt for a massage cream that is fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin. Avoid massaging clients with active acne breakouts. If the skin is sensitized, irritated, or over-exfoliated, do not massage or mask the skin. Apply a light layer of healing balm instead to help calm the skin and assist with rapid recovery. 

6. Apply a moisturizer suited to your client’s skin type 

7. Finish with sunscreen 



24-48 hours post peel, clients should avoid: 

  • Prolonged sun exposure 
  • Exercise and strenuous activities 
  • Hot tub, jacuzzi, sauna 
  • Exfoliating or lightening skin care products, scrubs, and retinols 
  • Hair removal cream or bleaching cream on the face 
  • Facial waxing 
  • Hair color, highlights, or perm services 


  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser 
  • Moisturize and keep the skin hydrated 
  • Wear sunscreen daily 




Written by Tina Zillmann, LE, CLHRP for LNE & Spa Magazine