How Long Should Glycolic Acid Be Left on the Skin During a Treatment?

I get glycolic acid peels every month. The acid is left on my skin for maybe 30 seconds. The last peel I got (70% glycolic acid) was left on my skin for maybe 10 seconds. I read that the acid is normally applied to the skin for about 10 minutes. I am concerned that the peels I have been getting are ineffective if not being left on my skin for the appropriate amount of time. Thank you in advance for you help and advice. Take care.

Doctor Answers 7

Glycolic acid peel

The depth of peel is dependant on the thickness of the skin, whether the skin has been prepaired by medical grade skin care or not.

the end point is dependant on the skin reaction, such as redness, frosting.

That is why all chemical peels should be done by the physician

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Duration of #Chemical Peels

When performing a peel, the practitioner will be observing your face for signs that the skin is reacting well and sufficiently before neutralizing the peel. I typical leave the peel solution on for 2 to 7 minutes.  The time can vary from patient to patient and is even different in the same patient from day to day.

Sheryl D. Clark, MD
New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Glycolic peels must be timed to be safe

Glycolic peels must be timed to be safe. The average patient will need about 2 minutes before neutralizing with water after having 70% glycolic acid applied to the skin.

Edward Lack, MD
Chicago Dermatologist
2.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Glycolic Acid Peels

When I do a glycolic acid peel, my end point is entirely based on the visual changes I see in the skin, not the time the acid is in contact with the skin. There are too many variables such as skin type, pre-peel preparation, prior use of tretinoin cream, etc. to depend simply on how long the acid is on the skin.

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

How long should a glycolic acid peel be left on the skin?

How long a peel is left on the skin will depend on the product and protocol. More typical is an application of 3-5 minutes. Ten seconds is not wrong but it does sound short.

Dina D. Strachan, MD
New York Dermatologist
3.3 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Glycolic Acid Time

Each company has a different set of protocols for their product. Moreover, physicians tend to differ whether to hold strictly to time or to see how a patient responds.  The important factor is improvement, and improvement can occur with different philosophies.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Glycolic Peels are not all the same.

Chemical peeling can be confusing.  There is no specific amount of time the chemical should be "left on".  With glycolic acid: once the chemical is applied it will continue to affect the skin until it is removed or diluted (some say neutralized) by applying water or a bicarbonate solution (which fizzes).  The time to neutralize depends on the reaction of the skin.  Some sensitive skin may only take a minute or two where thick oily skin could take 10 or even 15 minutes.  The buffering and concentration of the chemical also play a role.  You need a good aesthetician, hopefully in a physician's office, who knows the product they are using well.  I agree, 10 seconds seems a bit fast.

Susan Van Dyke, MD
Paradise Valley Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 35 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.