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Salicylic Acid Peel

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient found in skincare products that treat acne blemishes. In higher concentrations salicylic acid is a powerful exfoliating agent used in chemical peeling treatment to improve overall complexion and pigmentation irregularities.

Salicylic Acid Peel

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The Skinny


Average Recovery

1 days

Permanence

Temporary

Application

Topical

Surgical

No

Cost

$100 - $300

The Specifics


What is a salicylic acid peel?

A salicylic acid peel is a non-surgical skin resurfacing superficial chemical peels and medium depth chemical peels. In a salicylic acid chemical peel, a concentrated solution of the beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) salicylic acid is placed on the skin to penetrate the epidermis (top layer of skin) and cause natural, gentle exfoliation.

This is unlike some other medium and deep chemical peels that contain chemical solutions like trichloroacetic acid (TCA), which penetrate into middle skin layers. Salicylic acid is naturally found in willow bark, wintergreen leaves, and sweet birch. Salicylic acid’s chemical peel properties are known to reduce inflammation, decrease sebum (oil) production, and exfoliate the skin.

What cosmetic concerns does a salicylic acid peel treat?

Through gentle, natural exfoliation a salicylic acid peel combines the benefits of epidermal skin cell resurfacing with anti-inflammatory and sebum production suppression for a brighter, more even complexion. 1. Acne: Cleansing the top skin layers kills acne causing bacteria and unclogs pores. 2. Acne Scars & Scars: Salicylic acid peels can slowly debride scar tissue and encourage healthy cell growth. 3. Rosacea: Salicylic acid cleans and exfoliates to alleviate some common symptoms of rosacea. 4. Uneven Skin Tone: Salicylic acid exfoliates damaged skin cells to lessen uneven pigmentation. 5. Melasma: Exfoliation of upper skin layers lessens the appearance of melasma. 6. Uneven Skin Texture: Salicylic acid removes built up sebum and dead/damaged skin cells. 7. Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Refreshing the complexion with salicylic acid can reduce early signs of aging.

Who is the ideal candidate for a salicylic acid peel?

The ideal candidate for a salicylic acid peel is looking to improve the appearance of mild fine lines/wrinkles, skin inflammation, irregular skin pigmentation, or acne. Salicylic Acid Peels are safe in dark skin tones, however, there is a higher risk of hypopigmentation. Salicylic acid peels are not recommended for those with active skin rashes or damage (like wounds or sunburns), those who have used isotretinoin in the past three to six months, and women who are nursing or pregnant.

What is the average recovery associated with a salicylic acid peel?

There is little to no downtime following a salicylic acid peel. Skin erythema (redness) with flaking and dryness usually resolve within two to three days. Most candidates return to all normal activities immediately following the treatment. Unscented moisturizer or a topical steroid can aid recovery. Sunscreen and limited sun exposure should be considered. Makeup and regular skincare can begin once skin is no longer irritated and flaking.

What are the potential side effects of a salicylic acid peel?

Possible side effects following a salicylic acid peel are few, but may include skin irritation, allergic reaction, dry/flaky skin, discoloration (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation), and prolonged erythema (redness).

What can someone expect from the results of a salicylic acid peel?

The results of a salicylic acid peel will develop over a series of three to six treatments every four to six weeks. Once the desired aesthetic has been achieved, patients can maintain the results with maintenance treatments every six months. The results are temporary and subject to aging and sun damage.

What is the average cost of a salicylic acid peel?

Salicylic acid peels cost anywhere from $100 to $300. The actual cost of a salicylic acid peel is dependent upon location, provider, and length and involvement of the cosmetic procedure. Learn more in our complete guide to the cost of chemical peels.

Pros

improved skin toneimproved skin textureimproved acnenoninvasiveall skin tones

Cons

temporarymultiple treatments for resultsmaintenance treatments necessary

Invasiveness Score

mildmoderatesevere
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Invasiveness is graded based on factors such as anesthesia practices, incisions, and recovery notes common to this procedure.

What to Expect


Salicylic acid is a powerful exfoliating agent used in chemical peeling treatment to improve overall complexion and pigmentation irregularities. Here is a quick guide for what to expect before, during, and after a salicylic acid chemical peel.

The Takeaway


A salicylic acid peel is a skin resurfacing treatment. Salicylic acid penetrates epidermal skin cells (outermost skin layer) correcting minor to mild skin concerns, like fine lines, sun damage, and acne, with the benefits of little recovery time and low risk side effects.

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Source List

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  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association Chemical Peels: Overview aad.org
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