Glycolic Acid Peels for Acne Scars – Do They Work?

Can glycolic acid peels heal acne scars and prevent new acne from arising? That’s a common question asked and you can easily find a lot of articles online promoting the use of glycolic acid peels for acne. But not many of these articles actually cite information from verified tests by researchers.

We did a little research and found a controlled study on the use of both AHA peels (glycolic peels) and BHA peels (salicylic acid peels) on people with moderate to severe facial acne. Here are the results:

The study involved 20 patients with moderate to severe facial acne. Their average age was 24 years; 13 were women. Each was treated with a chemical peel every other week for six weeks…

The study found that both types of chemical peels significantly reduced acne lesions within two weeks of the first treatment… 81 percent of the sides of the face treated with beta-hydroxy acid still showed good or fair improvement in acne lesions, compared with 75 percent of the sides of the face treated with alpha-hydroxy acid.

Peels using beta-hydroxy acid (or BHA) had slightly fewer side effects and results that lasted a bit longer than did peels using alpha-hydroxy acid (or AHA), the study found. But overall, both types of treatments were similarly effective in reducing lesions caused by acne vulgaris.

Basically, this suggests that salicylic acid peels may be a better option to deal with live acne lesions because it has fewer side effects and longer lasting effects. But bear in mind that there are many factors involved which influence this test. The researchers didn’t mention this but as everyone knows, acne is caused by a wide variety of factors such as diet, lifestyle, hormones, hygiene and stress levels. Several of these factors may have contributed to the occurrence of acne in several test subjects. It is also useful to note that glycolic peel side effects are roughly the same as salicylic acid, both induce redness and peeling.

But generally, the recommendation given is sound and goes along with the popular experiences of thousands of individuals who have done both BHA and AHA peels. Our recommendation is simple: if you have acne bumps and lesions on your face right now, you should use a salicylic acid peel to unclog your pores and heal the acne lesions faster.

If your skin is generally smooth or flat but you have acne marks or scars, you should use a glycolic acid peel to remove the top layers of your skin and promote new skin renewal. Glycolic acid peels are best used when you don’t have any live acne or pimples on your skin and all you have are scars or hyperpigmentation marks that you want to get rid of.

Glycolic acid penetrates the epidermis much more than salicylic acid and is a great way to remove acne scars especially if they are new and fresh. High levels glycolic peels of 50 to 70% can really make a huge difference in your skin tone but remember, you need to work up to them slowly. If you’re interested in getting rid of acne marks or scars, glycolic peels are a great place to start. Start doing them regularly on a weekly or fortnightly basis and you’ll definitely see results.