In 1962, an easily mixed formulation of phenol, water, croton oil, and septisol was published and became known as the Baker formula. For almost 40 years, Baker’s formula was mistakenly known as a “phenol” peel. In 2000, Gregory Hetter M.D. demonstrated that the peeling agent was the croton oil, not the phenol, within the Baker formula and that by varying the croton oil concentration, the surgeon could alter the strength of the peel for certain patients and facial areas.
For years, the peel was associated with hypopigmentation. However, the feared complications of the peel were generally associated with the original version of the formula, which had significantly stronger concentrations of phenol. We now recognize the key ingredient in peel is the croton oil and not the phenol, which has led to dramatic improvements in skin texture, tone, and obliteration of deep wrinkles with a shorter recovery period. The risks of complications from the modern version of this peel are low with an experienced peeler and the potential benefits are unparalleled.