Glycolic Peel Percentage for Acne Scars, Fine Lines, and Pigmentation?

I am 26 years old from India. I have acne scars, fine lines, and pigmentation on my face. What percentage of Glycolic Peel would be effective for me?

Doctor Answers 6

Glycolic For Skin

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It is always a good idea to start with a lower percentage peel and work up to a stronger one.  That will help ensure you avoid irritation and downtime.  Since glycolic peels are more superficial and generally tolerated well, they are a wonderful tool to help with pigmentation and fine lines.  You will get the best results with a series of at least 6 peels and following them up with a good skin care regimen for home care and maintenance.

Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Start with a 20-30% peel; be very careful and slow as you increase in percentage

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Thanks for your question.

As with any chemical peel, it is important to know what a peel is capable of improving and what it is not. Glycolic peels are excellent peels that are performed widely and are very well tolerated.

Regarding pigmentation, glycolic peels of any percentage will help with pigmentation, but usually need to be done multiple times to see this beneficial effect. Use of glycolic peels with hydroquinone +/- topical tretinoin would be a fine starting regimen to help reduce pigmentation.

Regarding fine lines, glycolic peels should help with slight textural abnormalities over time, and would be a nice adjunct to topical tretinoin nightly. However, a non-ablative fractional resurfacing laser (e.g. Fraxel) would likely be a better choice for those fine lines, and, if those lines are in movement areas around the eyes, between the eyebrows, or on the forehead, using Botox would be a better choice.

In regards to acne scarring, my opinion is that glycolic peels do not do anything significant to reduce acne scarring. Better options would be a fractional ablative or non-ablative laser - depending on how dark your skin is, a fractional non-ablative laser may be more ideal for you.

If you decide to do the glycolic peels, start with a 20%, then increase to a 30% 2-3 weeks later. Do 30% one or two times, then increase to 50%. You can increase to your tolerace up to 70%. Keep in mind that as glycolic peels can help you reduce some pigment, they can also cause quite an inflammatory and scabbing reaction on your skin leading to more pigment / darkening. Doing 30% without scabbing multiple times is much more beneficial than doing 50 or 70% with scabbing in your case because of your darker skin.

Hope this helps.

Don Mehrabi, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist

Acne scar treatments

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lasers are usually the best treatment for acne scarring. superficial chemical peels will do little in the way of improving these acne scars long term. you should discuss possible laser treatment with your dermatologist

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist

Best treatment options for acne, fine lines and acne scars in Indian skin.

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Hello Anushka,


From what you describe, Glycolic peels are definitely not the treatment of choice in your case. There are superior and faster acting peels available on the international scenario like Azelic + Salicylic peels for acne and post acne pigmentation in Indian skin.

In my opinion Indian skin responds far better to dermaroller treatments for fine lines and acne scars as compared to Fraxel laser. Fraxel laser has always been my second line of choice due to the bronzing it leaves behind on Indian skin.

The Cosmelan peel is another good option for you to consider. I have used it with great success in Indian skin for pigmentation, fine lines and mild scarring.


Glycolic peels are a very slow and nearly ineffective process when it comes to treating acne  and fine lines in Indian skin. Glycolic peels offer minimal or no benefit in improving post acne scarring.


Keep looking beautiful


Niketa Sonavane, MD, MBBS
India Dermatologist

Glycolic Peel in Indian Skin

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A glycolic peel will not be able to address all of your concerns, in fact, no one modality will. Acne scars respond  very well to a combination of treatments, and fine lines respond better to lasers than peels alone. The pigmentation would benefit from the glycolic peel.
Good luck!

Fraxel For Acne Scars

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Thank you for your question. At my practice, I have gotten excellent results for scarring with Fraxel. This treatment eliminates irregular skin discoloration, and stimulates new collagen production, tightening the skin without prolonged recovery. After a series of 2 to 4 Fraxel treatments, the cumulative cosmetic improvement is near more aggressive lasers, but unlike more aggressive lasers, redness and swelling eliminated within 2 to 4 days after each treatment. Fraxel is outstanding for fine wrinkles, mild skin laxity, irregular pigmentation, acne scars, surgical scars, enlarged pores, stretch marks, age spots and Rosacea. It can be used safely on the face, neck, hands, arms, and chest.

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.