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Glycolic Vs. Salicylic Acid - Which Peel is Better for Acne?

I have light to moderate acne, and a friend suggested that I start getting monthly chemical peels.  I've read up on glycolic acid peel and salicylic acid peel but they seems so similar I don't know which one would be a better acne treatment.  Please tell me which one works best.

Doctor Answers (18)

Salicylic acid slightly superior

+5
You are asking whether the alpha-hydroxy acid, Glycolic acid, or the beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is superior. In this case I am going to have to go with the Beta dog, sal acid.
A study published in Dermatologic Surgery last year compared the two types of peels and gave the nod to the salicylic acid peel. This study, performed by dermatologists at the St. Louis University confirmed the impression that most dermatologists have had for years: that the Beta peel is preferred for acne and the glycolic peel for skin lightening and rejuvenation.
The results of the Beta hydroxy acid peel (BHA) lasted a bit longer and had fewer side effects such as irritation. Both peels were effective in reducing acne lesions, however.
This was the only study I am aware of that compared these two peels.
Usually the beneficial effect of the peels occurred in about two weeks.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Salicylic acid peels typically better for acne

+4

Typically, Salicylic acid peels are better for acne, but glycolic peels in higher concentration can be also very effective. Sometimes, alternating them is a good idea to see how your skin will respond to each of them. Remember that a series of peels will be necessary and maintenance peels to keep your acne under control. Usually not one peel or treatment works for acne, so multiple different treatments, sometimes combined with prescription medication will help.

Web reference: http://drturowski.com/chemical-peels-chicago.html

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Acne and Salicylic Acid Peels

+3

Salicylic acid peels penetrate deeper into the oil gland than the glycolic acid peels do, and cause less inflammation on your face---so go with the Salicylic acid.  It comes in a number of different strengths, and can be customized just for you.  You might also speak with your dermatologist about using some prescription topical medications at home every day to maximize your best skin.

Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon

Salicylic acid or glycolic acid for acne

+3
Both of these acids are used for minor "peels" and often used as "adjuvants" for treating acne. However, not convinced that either alone are any more beneficial than the other. To be most effective , either glycolic or salicylic need to be combined with an appropriate acne regimen that consists of prescription creams and oral antibiotics for more severe cases.
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Salicylic acid

+1
Hello,


A salicylic acid peel is a great option for active acne.  Glycolic is a good peel as well, overall good peel to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin.  Salicylic acid is better for acne patients.  It is a derivative from aspirin to help heal and dry out active acne.  We usually like to start our patients on a four step acne kit, after about two weeks we do a chemical peel altered to their skin type.  We us PCA chemical peels which are blended peels designed for specific skin types.  We also do a 6 treatment package.  Usually the patient needs about 3 customized chemical peels, and 3 laser light resurfacing treatments.  Again, to answer your question, salicylic acid is better for acne.
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Salicylic versus glycolic Peel

+1

It is the physician who decides which peeling agent will help help her/his patient for her/his specific needs.

I prefer salicylic acid over glycolic acid for its better penetration, safety & results.

Also, it needs generally 6-8 sessions of peeling for significant results.

Please follow your physician for proper assessment & better management.

-Dr. M. Khawar Nazir

Pakistan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Both Superficial Peels

+1

Both of these are superficial peels. Glycolic acid is the stronger of the two, so generally, I have more success with it. Both can help with papules and pustules of acne.

Salicylic acid is really mild….really, really mild. While there can be some mild improvement in acne and skin texture, the penetration of salicylic acid makes the impact very low. It also makes the downtime very low, usually just an hour of redness. If you can tolerate a few hours of redness, I’d recommend beginning with glycolic acid. It’s still a superficial peel, but has shown much better activity against both the bacteria that causes acne as well as black/whiteheads (called comedones). You’ll need fewer treatments and get better results.

Web reference: http://www.bobbybukamd.com/services/chemical_peel_treatment_nyc

New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Glycolic and Salicylic Acid Peels

+1

Both work well. Salicylic peels have been associated more with acne treatments over the years (Beta-hydroxy acid peels) but glycolic peels leo work well. Make sure you go to a reputable skin care facility - preferably overseen by a board-certified dermatologist who can mare sure the proper peel is being performed to treat the skin concern. 

Nashville Dermatologic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Acne and glycolic acid or salicylic acid peels

+1

Both glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels can help acne, but salicylic acid penetrates more deeply into the pores to dissolve oils so is usually more beneficial.  You should be assessed by a board certified dermatologist who can give you prescription medication to control your acne and decide if a peel would also help you.

Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Salicyclic Acid and Glycolic Acid Peels Can Both Improve Acne

+1

Both a salicylic acid peel (beta hydroxy acid) and glycolic acid peel (alpha hydroxy acid) can be helpful in improving acne and I am not sure that one is necessarily better than the other. It often depends on the acne type and severity as well as the skin type.  They should also not be used as stand-alone treatments, but rather as additive to other treatments being done such as over-the-counter and topical prescription creams and possibly oral medication.  In darker skinned patients it is important to be careful with strength of peels as to avoid any discoloration.  As with many treatments, there is less benefit seen with one peel than with a series of peels, which can be done a few weeks apart. 

 

Web reference: http://www.barnettdermatology.com/conditions.php?id=15

New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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