Best Chemical Peel for Oily Skin?

Is salicylic acid better at cutting through oily skin than glycolic acid? Also, how does salycylic acid at 15% compare to glycolic acid at 30%? Will it be a lot stronger or is this still a mild peel? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 3

Salicylic acid peel for oily skin

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Chemical peels are an excellent adjunct to taking care of one's skin.  The more superficial peel like the ones you have asked about are not home runs, but they are a nice touch to the care for your skin.  While I agree with Dr. Asaria that the chemical peel will help, I would prefer the salicylic acid peel, even at percentages that may be higher than the 15% you have asked about.

Salicylic acid works by breaking apart the bonds of the dead skin cells AND by breaking up the lipids (fats/oils) in the cells of the outer skin layer.

Glycoilic acid peels only break apart the dead skin cells on the outer layer of your skin.

Jessner's peel works as sort of a combination of both.

That is why for simply oily skin I would recommend the salicylic acid peel. 

Hope this helps.

Naples Dermatologic Surgeon

Chemical peels for oily skin

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In general, superficial chemical peels are an excellent treatment for rejuvenating the outer layers of the skin. Superficial peels (such as salicylic, lactic acid, or low concentration TCA) can have a great effect in slowing down sebum and oil production in the skin and prevent breakouts. 

For oily/combination skin, I like to use the PCA SensiPeel. It is a combination peel (Lactic, TCA, Kojic, and Azelaic) and is very well tolerated with perhaps an evening of redness, and three to four days of mildly flaky skin. I have found the PCA products (due to their purity and combination of mild chemicals) to be better at treating oily skin than single source superficial peels such as salicylic or glycolic.

I hope that helps!

-Dr. Asaria

Jamil Asaria, MD
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 139 reviews

Chemical Peels to Treat Oily Skin

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The purpose of chemical peels is to address skin problems such as discoloration, acne wrinkles and scars (such as acne scars). Prior to a peel, the skin is "degreased" or all oily secretions are cleaned off so the peel is able to treat the skin without a barrier. Chemical peels are generally classifies as "Superficial", "Medium depth" or "Deep". Both the peels you describe fall into the "Superficial" category and the choice of peel depends on the objective of the treatment.


Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 80 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.