Should I Expect More Peeling from 20% Salicylic Acid or 30% Glycolic Acid?

I've had 20% salicylic peels administered on a weekly basis but the level of peeling and flaking is a little too much for me, thought the results in the end are good. Will a 30% glycolic peel result in less 'down time,' peeling and flaking?

Doctor Answers 2

Chemical peels

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A 30% glycolic acid peel will result in less peeling than a salicylic acid peel if it is kept on for about 2 minutes or until your face turns pink. Glycolic acid needs to be neutralized to stop the process, unlike a salicylic acid peel.  The strength of glycolic acid depends on whether or not it is buffered, not just the percentage.  Buffered is weaker.  If left on for too long, you can have more peeling than with a salicylic acid peel. The peels should be 2 to 3 weeks apart, not weekly.  Make sure you have your peels with an experienced aesthetician who understands the different peels.

Toronto Dermatologist

Superficial chemical peels

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Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, glycolic is an alpha hydrox acid.   Each will give your a level one peel, this is an intraepidermal peel which is superficial in nature.  These type of peels are usually performed by an aesthetician.  If your are peeling excessively with salicylic acid then you might try either a buffered 30% Glycolic peel or even microdermabrasion.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

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