Salicylic Acid Peel

What is Salicylic Acid Peel?

A salicylic acid peel is a superficial peeling agent. This means that the first layer of the skin will be treated. Salicylic acid is a Beta Hydroxy Acid that is effective in treating oily skin, clogged pores and seborrheic dermatitis. Salicylic acid peels work well for those that have sun damaged skin, dull and lifeless skin, sensitive skin, dry or dehydrated skin, and uneven skin tones. Salicylic acid peels work for those with acne, ingrown hairs, wrinkles and fine lines, and psoriasis. The use of salicylic acid peels can improve the look and the texture of the skin. Salicylic acid peels can be done on the face, neck, back, shoulders, hands, knees and elbows. Men and woman alike benefit from having this type of peel done. Do take note that while salicylic acid peels are great for any types of skin, those with aspirin allergies should avoid getting this kind of peel done.

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Salicylic Acid Peel Before and After Care

When having a professional salicylic acid peel done, there are three strengths: light, medium and dark. A light peel consists of 10% salicylic acid while a medium strength will have 20%. Dark strengths use 30%. The skin will first be cleansed to remove any dirt and oils on the face, then a prep solution will be applied. The salicylic acid will be applied to the skin, where a slight burning or stinging sensation can be felt. Itching may also be felt, but it will only last a few minutes. Topical discomfort may be felt as the salicylic acid is more penetrating than other chemical peels. The peel will then be neutralised, and then rinsed off with water or a cleanser. After the peel the skin will be red, shiny and sensitive, but should only last for a couple of hours. Mild flaking of the skin will most likely occur for 3 to 7 days. If the peel was done for acne control, the skin may purge itself, in which case more acne will be seen.  This is only temporary and is a result of clogs in the pores being brought to the top of the skin, erupting in new pimples. A salicylic acid peel can be done every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the desired effects for the skin. More than likely, 4 to 6 peels will need to be done to see optimum results.

After the peel, the skin will be very sensitive to the sun. If you must be out in the sun, wear a good sunscreen and stay covered with a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. Seek shade and avoid the sun during peak hours. Avoid picking at peeling skin, and if the skin is dry, use a quality moisturiser. Do not exercise for 24 hours after the salicylic acid peel as sweat will cause a stinging sensation on the skin.

Cautions to take when getting a salicylic acid peel include the following:

  • Should you have a cold sore, it must be fully healed to avoid the risk of having cold sores spread.
  • One week prior to a salicylic acid peel, and one week after, waxing should be avoided. Other things to avoid include using facial masks, hair dyes, dermabrasion, electrolysis, depilatories, products with lactic acid or glycolic acids. Loofahs and other rough sponges should not be used on the skin. Vitamin A (tretinoin) should also be avoided.
  • Make sure to tell the dermatologist if you have any allergies, what your current medications are, what skin conditions you have or have had (eczema, etc), if you have an autoimmune disorder, your history of sun sensitivity, and if you have a history of cold sores.
8 replies
  1. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    I am a man of 32 and have had acne since as long as I can remember. I have done 5 salicylic acid peels and have been very satisfied with them. Yes my skin did purge the first time, but I was so used to having severe acne that a few more pimples did not really bother me at all. I feel that my pores are now clog free! I have some acne but from my first peel til now, I would say that my acne has diminished by at least 50%. I plan on having a few more peels done on my face to get my skin in better condition.

  2. Enemy acne
    Enemy acne says:

    I have had severe acne all my life. I would love to have a salicylic acid peel done to help me rid my face of this mess! I see that my skin could purge, but I would be willing to have my skin look awful for a few days while the clogged pores are getting rid of what is clogging them. I always thought of salicylic acid for drying up my face and never knew that there was a thing as a peel. I am so doing this. I am calling Monday morning to my local dermatologist to see if they are willing to do this for me.

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Hi. Do you know you can do these peels at home yourself for a fraction of the cost. I buy my acids at mauc (makeup artists choice). They sell sample sizes for as little as 5 6 bucks which provide a few peels so you can try different ones. They have other great products and awesome directions either mailed either with their products or on their site. However you can also buy the acids anywhere, amazon, ebay.. just do your research and make sure you know what youre doing. You will save tons of money. People are afraid because of stronger peels like tca and the jessners but honestly they are simple easy to do and can greatly improve your skin, acne, wrinkles, sun spots. Dont spend 500 plus… it is a rip off. A salyclic acid peel is as eazy as applying a prep solution.. (i dont always do this step), putting on with a qtip, cotton ball or fan tip (you can use your fingers for some peels).. letting it sit for a few minutes. Altho with this peel i did 1 min the first time to see how my skin would then you move up 30 seconds each time for this peel until like 10mins i think is the longest on salycilic acid. Then you rinse off with a non acid cleanser or even just want. With some peels you need to neutralize the acid with baking soda mixed in water or a pre bought neutralizer. And you wait 2 hours then use a skin calmer like argan oil or a non acid moisturizer. My skin did not peel the first time. Some lighter peels like these.. you wont have peeling, maybe mild flaking. But super easy. Good luck

  3. Lorely
    Lorely says:

    I am considering having a salicylic acid peel done. I am a woman of color and wanted to be sure that it was safe. From what I can tell, this type of peel is for any skin tone and color. However, I did want to share with others that I read that people with black or dark skin should avoid having too many treatments done because it can cause hypo-pigmentation and light scarring. And another thing that it stated was that you need to stop exfoliating your skin a few days before the peel takes place. If you continue to exfoliate, then the peel could be absorbed much deeper into the skin, which could cause some damage.

  4. olga
    olga says:

    Salicylic acid peels are a very effective way at treating acne. I have been using over the counter ones for a year now. I have yet to try a professional one, because I found great success in the ones that I get from my local drug store. One that I do love for me anyways is Skin Laboratory Salicylic acid 20% gel peel. The bottle that I get is less than $20 and will easy do my entire face 15 or more times! I use the treatment weekly and since I have been, my face has never looked better. I used to have quite a few scars but they have been diminished greatly over the past year.

  5. Miracle Miranda
    Miracle Miranda says:

    Salicylic acid peels to me are a miracle. I have been using them once or twice a week, depending on how my skin feels and looks, for the past 8 months. My skin has never looked better. I have always had issues with my skin, with huge pores, oily skin that you could fry an egg on, and acne that seemed to go away as a new pimple popped up. But since using a salicylic acid peel and being committed to using it, I have gained confidence. My skin looks and feels better. It is not as oily as it once was and my pores are shrinking. I would recommend that anyone with oily skin, huge pores or tons of acne try salicylic acid peels are they really and truly do work.

  6. Akshay
    Akshay says:

    I have used this peel a year ago which made me quite attractive but soon in the next winters my skin turned to black spots then i got a salscylic foaming facewash and now i have peeled my skin again now i would let u the reaults know in just 2 weeks


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