Carbon Peel: All You Need to Know

Here’s a detailed yet simple guide through the carbon peel: what it is, how it’s done, what effects it can achieve, and all other information you should know before booking an appointment.

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The carbon peel, a.k.a. carbon laser toning or the Hollywood peel is a type of laser skin treatment. It involves applying a carbon solution to the skin, which is then treated with a laser.

The procedure is performed by licensed, board-certified technicians at clinics or medical spas.

It unclogs pores and stimulates collagen production, giving you a brighter, smoother look. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of carbon peel, including how it works, the benefits, risks, aftercare, and cost.

Let’s dive in!

What Is a Carbon Laser Peel?

A carbon peel is a superficial treatment that helps with acne, enlarged pores, pigmentation issues, mild scarring, and uneven skin tone.

Carbon laser toning has been proven to reduce pore size, even out skin tone, and promote collagen production, resulting in smoother, brighter, and firmer skin.

A carbon solution is used in conjunction with a laser (usually Nd:YAG) to create a peeling effect. The lasers used in this treatment affect only the surface layer of the skin, which means they can treat only mild to moderate concerns.

As a tradeoff, there’s virtually no recovery time, and the treatment only takes about 20-30 minutes.

Is It the Same Thing as a CO2 Peel?

The carbon laser peel and the CO2 laser peel are both popular laser skin resurfacing treatments. The names make them easy to confuse, but there are some key differences between a carbon laser peel vs CO2 laser peel.

In contrast to a carbon laser peel, a CO2 laser peel relies solely on laser energy, without any solutions applied to the face.

The laser uses carbon dioxide gas as the medium for delivering the light wave energy to the skin. It’s meant for treating a wider variety of skin conditions and can affect issues that are more severe.

The CO2 peel penetrates deeper into the skin and is classified as a medium-depth resurfacing treatment. It has more dramatic results but requires a longer recovery time compared to the carbon laser peel.

How Does the Carbon Laser Peel Work?

Carbon laser toning utilizes a layer of carbon-based lotion, followed by a laser that targets the carbon particles on the skin’s surface, destroying them and taking dead skin cells and pigment along with them.

This treatment has gained popularity due to its quick results, minimal downtime, and suitability for all skin types.

What Is the Charcoal Laser Peel Used For?

The Hollywood peel benefits people with a wide range of cosmetic concerns. It can help with acne, acne scars, undesirable pigmentation, enlarged pores, and overall skin tightness, elasticity, and youthfulness.

Carbon Laser for Face Treatments

The carbon peel is particularly useful for evening out the skin tone, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and minimizing scars and other blemishes. Overall it gives you a youthful complexion and a healthy glow.

Carbon Laser for Acne

In acne treatment, the carbon solution and laser eliminate the oil, debris, and bacteria in the pores, which are common causes of the condition. It not only clears up existing acne but also prevents new breakouts from occurring for weeks or even months.

Although multiple treatments may be required to see significant results, the good news is that you can repeat carbon laser peels as necessary without any negative side effects.

Since the treatment is non-irritating and non-invasive, it doesn’t make the acne-inflamed skin feel any worse like some other, more intense treatments may.

Carbon Laser Peel for Acne Scars

A carbon peel facial can be an effective option for reducing or even eliminating mild to moderate acne scars.

However, deeper and more severe forms, such as ice pick scars, may require a different rejuvenation treatment, such as laser skin resurfacing.

Consult with a dermatologist to determine the most suitable treatment for your specific acne scarring.

Carbon Peel for Pigmentation

When treating pigmentation issues, the Hollywood peel uses laser energy to gently break up excess pigmentation in skin cells, allowing it to be naturally removed. This is followed by gentle heating of the dermis to trigger collagen production.

This procedure can address various pigmentation issues such as freckles, dark spots, age spots, sun damage, etc. It not only improves uneven pigment distribution but can also reduce the appearance of textural irregularities and fine lines.

Carbon Laser Peel for Melasma

Carbon peel is an effective treatment for melasma. The interaction of carbon particles with the laser not only removes unwanted pigmentation, but also boosts collagen production in the area.

As a result, the stimulation of healthy new skin is increased, and your face looks more even-toned, smoother, and significantly lighter.

Carbon Peel for Underarm Treatments

The underarm skin can also benefit from a carbon peel laser treatment. First, the carbon mask cleanses the skin, eliminating dead skin cells and clearing the pores.

Then, the laser heats up the dermis, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin that enhance the firmness and elasticity of the skin.

The process results in skin tightening and underarm lightening, making it an effective solution for those looking to whiten and rejuvenate their underarms.

Carbon Laser Peel for Pores

The Hollywood peel is a highly effective method for improving the appearance of enlarged pores, blackheads, and dull skin on both the face and body.

The treatment removes the top layer of skin and unclogs pores. This process not only removes dead skin cells, but also stimulates collagen production. That way it tightens and smooths the skin, reducing the enlarged pore openings.

Carbon Peel Benefits

The Hollywood peel procedure has several notable benefits for your complexion. It can improve your skin tone and leave the skin smoother, softer, and glowing.

The carbon peel treatment also reduces skin oiliness, improves acne, and shrinks pores. It can even help reduce wrinkles and fine lines, resulting in firmer, more youthful skin.

Carbon Peel Risks & Side Effects

Carbon peel is generally considered safe with minimal risks. The most common side effect is mild redness, which typically resolves within a day, and some tingling during the procedure itself.

Take the time to choose an experienced and licensed professional to perform your procedure. It’s essential to follow their post-treatment care instructions to ensure optimal results.

Is It Safe to Get a Carbon Peel During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding?

The safety of doing a Hollywood peel during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.

Women who are currently pregnant or nursing should take the safe route and postpone making an appointment.

Consult with your doctor about how long you’d need to wait to be 100% in the clear.

Who Is a Good Candidate for a Carbon Peel Treatment?

Essentially anyone who wants to address any of the issues we mentioned above. The Hollywood laser peel is suitable for various skin types and tones.

That said, it’s recommended to be carried out on healthy or only slightly damaged skin to achieve the best possible results.

Moderately, significantly, or severely damaged skin would benefit more from other treatments. Consult your dermatologist.

Who Shouldn’t Get a Carbon Peel Treatment?

You are not a suitable candidate for a Hollywood facial if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have more than mild skin damage.

Consult with your dermatologist and your GP about other treatments that might be more beneficial for you, such CO2 laser resurfacing, other laser treatments, microneedling, or other types of collagen induction therapy.

What Does a Carbon Peel Treatment Look Like?

A Hollywood laser peel is a short treatment – as we mentioned above, you’ll be done in 20-30 minutes – but it does entail a few distinct phases.

Here’s the whole procedure broken down into steps.

Step 1: Consultations

Before undergoing laser skin care, it’s important to consult with both your general practitioner and dermatologist to ensure it’s safe for you. Once they give the okay, you can proceed to make a consultation appointment at a skin clinic.

During this initial conversation with a laser specialist, your skin will be thoroughly assessed to determine the best course of treatment for your specific condition.

If they determine that additional treatment may be necessary to address your cosmetic concerns, the specialist may recommend a more suitable procedure.

Step 2: Preparation

The carbon laser peel is most effective on clean, debris-free skin. Before your treatment, it’s important to prepare your skin by washing it with a mild cleanser and avoiding harsh exfoliants or chemical products.

Since the Hollywood peel is a mild procedure, numbing cream is not necessary. When you come in for your appointment, your skin will be cleansed to remove bacteria and product residues.


Your provider may recommend that you stop using retinol for a week before the procedure and use sunscreen daily during that time.

Make sure you disclose your past and current medical history during your consultations, including any underlying health conditions and ongoing medication.

Step 3: Applying the Carbon Lotion

The laser tech will apply a dark-colored cream with a high carbon content. It looks and feels similar to a mud mask or clay mask.

The lotion will help to remove dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin, as well as facilitate the penetration of the laser energy into the pores.

The mask will be left on for several minutes to allow it to dry and bond with the surface contaminants and dead skin cells. Following this, the specialist will provide eye shields (special goggles) to protect your eyes from the laser.

Step 4: The Warming Laser (Optional)

Your doctor may perform this optional step before the carbon peel itself: warming your skin with a low-energy laser setting. This heats up the carbon in the lotion, binds it to the epidermis, and helps it absorb impurities.

However, this step is not recommended for individuals with very sensitive skin or dark patches like melasma.

This is because the extra heat might irritate very sensitive skin, or make pigmented patches worse by triggering boosted melanin production. In such cases, the warming laser will be skipped.

Step 5: The Pulsed Laser

During the final step of the Hollywood peel, your technician will use a pulsed laser to break down the carbon lotion and eliminate impurities from your face. The laser also stimulates collagen and elastin production, which results in firmer skin.

At a higher-energy setting, the laser is used to break the liquid carbon into tiny particles. During the procedure, you might hear snapping sounds as the laser interacts with the carbon mask. A smoke evaporator attached to the laser removes the vaporizing carbon and impurities.

If you have sensitive skin, your technician will adjust the laser settings accordingly to make sure you’re comfortable throughout the treatment.

Once the entire surface of your face has been treated, the lotion residue is cleaned off and the procedure is complete.

Step 6: Care Instructions

After the carbon laser peel is complete, your technician may recommend a hydrating moisturizer and sunscreen to apply to your skin.

Although there’s no downtime or recovery period per se, it’s recommended to avoid direct sun exposure after the treatment as sunlight can irritate the skin.

Additionally, you should avoid using any exfoliants or exposing your skin to any harsh chemical products for 2 to 3 weeks following your session.

Carbon Laser After Care

After getting a laser carbon peel, your doctor will likely recommend using gentle products and applying SPF.

In addition, here are some general do’s and don’ts for laser carbon peel aftercare:

  • Moisturize daily.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30+ regularly for several days post-treatment.
  • Don’t use any products containing retinol for at least five days after your Hollywood facial.
  • Do not exfoliate or use any abrasive or invasive skin treatments for at least 1 week.
  • If you have oily skin, use products designed to combat acne to maintain optimum results.
  • If you have photoaged skin or fine lines, use products containing collagen, take collagen supplements, or follow a collagen-boosting diet.

Your laser specialist can give you an aftercare routine that’s tailored to your case, but feel free to follow these guidelines as a rule of thumb.

You can also schedule an appointment with your dermatologist, tell them about the procedure you had, and see if they have any care recommendations.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Hollywood Carbon Peel?

There is essentially zero healing time involved. Since a Hollywood peel is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure which doesn’t involve any harsh chemicals or aggressive treatments, there is no injury for the skin to heal from.

Does a Hollywood Carbon Peel Hurt?


Anesthesia or numbing is not required, as the treatment is completely pain-free. There may be a slight pricking sensation when the laser contacts the carbon lotion on the skin, but it’s very mild.

Following the treatment, most people feel completely normal, and there’s no need for any downtime or recovery. You can go back to your daily activities right away.

How Many Hollywood Peel Treatments Will I Need?

To achieve the maximum effectiveness of carbon laser peels, experts often recommend multiple appointments spaced 2 to 3 weeks apart.

The period between treatments allows for sufficient collagen regeneration.

The number of treatments you will need will depend on your skin’s condition and your desired outcome, and your doctor will take that into consideration when putting together your session plan.

When Can I Expect to See Carbon Peel Results?

You can expect to notice an improvement in your skin’s appearance immediately after your first Hollywood peel. This is because the exfoliation and unclogging of pores results in a brighter and clearer complexion.

Additionally, remember that most specialists recommend having several sessions to achieve maximum results.

As your skin produces more collagen and elastin over time, you will continue to see improvements in the reduction of blemishes and the overall quality of your skin.

How Much Does a Hollywood Laser Peel Cost?

The cost of a carbon peeling treatment in the US is typically around $400 per session on average.

The specific cost may vary depending on several factors, such as:

  • The expertise of the specialist performing the procedure
  • Your and the clinic’s location
  • Your skin condition

Keep in mind that this is not the final sum. Your total expense will include all of the sessions you undergo, as well as any products you might have to invest in, such as SPF, moisturizers, etc.

Carbon Peel – Main Takeaways

A carbon peel, a.k.a. Hollywood peel, Hollywood facial, or carbon laser toning is a non-invasive, gentle procedure that requires no downtime and no healing period.

Although the name makes it easy to confuse with a CO2 laser, it’s actually a completely distinct treatment.

It’s an excellent choice of laser skin care for people with mild imperfections such as pigmentation issues, melasma, non-severe acne, shallow acne scars, fine lines and shallow wrinkles, or dark and/or lax underarm skin.

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