Chemical peels use unique peeling agents to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. There are many types of chemical peels that are used on the skin; some peels are used to improve acne or lighten pigmentation on the skin, while other peels are used to decrease the appearance of fine lines or brighten dullness on the skin. Two of the most common chemical peeled performed in dermatology practices are glycolic acid peels and salicylic acid peels. Dr. Schweiger explains that, “Glycolic acid peels can help with acne to some degree, though we primarily use them to improve the tone of the skin and brighten up the appearance of dull skin. Conversely, salicylic acid peels will help with redness and pigmentation from acne, but they are primarily used to treat active acne and prevent the development of acne in the future.”
Here is what you need to know about two of our most popular chemical peels:
Glycolic acid peel: Glycolic acid peels can be applied in a wide spectrum of concentrations, delivering a no-downtime light peel to temporarily brighten the skin or a deeper peel (with a few days of downtime) to brighten up dull skin in a more aggressive manner. Glycolic peels must be neutralized, so the longer that they remain on the skin, the stronger that the effect of the peel will be.
Salicylic acid peel: Salicylic acid peels may also be applied in a variety of concentrations. The most commonly used concentrations, when treating acne, are between 20-30% saliyclic acid. These peels may produce a few days of mild redness and peeling, but not a significant downtime.