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Benefits of a Glycolic Peel

A glycolic peel is also important because it helps to remove dead skin cells and treat acne. This makes it a great treatment for those who suffer from acne-prone skin or anyone who has aging skin that looks dull and flaky.

Another benefit of the glycolic peel is that it helps to unclog pores. By removing dead skin cells from your pores, you make room for new skin cells to grow, which leads to younger-looking skin with fewer signs of aging.

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on Benefits of a Glycolic Peel, are glycolic peels good for your skin and are glycolic peels worth it.

Overview of Benefits of a Glycolic Peel Overview of

A glycolic acid peel is a resurfacing treatment that seeks to address a number of skin concerns. It can treat acne and melasma, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and lighten hyperpigmentation. 

Glycolic acid is a member of the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) family, and is valued for its small molecular size which enables it to penetrate deeply into skin.  

Professional treatments are most commonly administered as very superficial, superficial and medium-depth peels depending on the severity of the skin concern and skin type. These two depths are the most commonly used with glycolic acid, and therefore avoid the significant downtime and potential risk of scarring and dyspigmentation of deep peels.

Glycolic acid peels are the most common among AHA peels and are well tolerated by all skin types with few associated side effects. It is used in concentrations of 20%–70% depending on the skin complaint and severity.

These peels have anti-inflammatory, keratolytic and antioxidant qualities to treat a number of concerns including acne, photodamage, hyperpigmentation and scars. They can be used solely or combined with other treatments such as laser or dermabrasion to achieve greater results.

Depth of the glycolic acid peel will depend on the concentration used, the number of coats applied and length of time it remains on the skin. In general, a superficial peel penetrates the top 1–3 layers of skin, a medium/deep peel 4–6 layers. 

Benefits of Glycolic Acid Peels

Glycolic acid’s small molecular size enables deep penetration to clear pores of excess oil, debris and acne-causing bacteria to help heal inflammatory acne and prevent future breakouts.

As a keratolytic, glycolic acid can soften and break down the outer layer of skin to deeply exfoliate and dissolve scaly, flaky skin. This action also improves the efficacy of topical agents as they can then absorb more easily into the skin.

Glycolic acid has also been shown to have a synergistic effect when combined with vitamin E and melatonin; data show that glycolic acid can strongly influence the antioxidant action of both compounds which enhances their photoprotective potential.


A glycolic acid peel provides multiple benefits as an anti-aging tool, and has been demonstrated to have minimal risk for all skin types.

Peels provide a form of controlled damage in order to prompt skin regeneration and remodeling. As part of the healing process, elastin and collagen production accelerates to firm, plump and strengthen skin which results in a rejuvenated appearance.

Glycolic acid peels have the advantage of penetrating deeper within skin for superior results: reducing sun damage, evening skin tone, improving texture, and softening fine lines and wrinkles.  


All types of acne can be effectively treated with a glycolic acid peel; it is especially effective in clearing blackheads and whiteheads, or comedonal acne, due to its strength in clearing pores of debris and material.

Several studies have demonstrated that this acid suppresses the expression of key genes to inhibit an inflammatory response.

In one study, researchers found two glycolic acid peels were significantly effective in reducing mild-to-moderately severe acne.

Another study demonstrated that a 70% peel was effective in treating patients with comedogenic acne, papulopustular (average of 6 applications) and nodulocystic acne (8–10 applications). The most rapid improvement was seen in comedogenic acne along with a significant improvement of superficial scarring.

In addition to providing exfoliating benefits that can help prevent and treat acne, a glycolic acid peel can penetrate pores to dissolve and eliminate acne-causing oil buildup. This, in turn, helps reduce the size of enlarged pores.


Hyperpigmentation refers to dark spots or patches of skin that can develop due to a number of causes, and include melasma, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and sunspots.


Melasma, is a genetic, chronic skin disorder, characterized by gray or brown patches on the skin and is notoriously difficult to treat. Glycolic acid is considered first-line treatment, and is typically performed in concentrations of 30%–70% over several applications.

With glycolic acid peels, discolored patches of skin can be noticeably reduced—especially with high concentrations—by removing these damaged cells and accelerating skin cell turnover, replacing them with healthy, normal cells. This action also primes the skin to better receive topical applications such as azelaic acid to further reduce discoloration.

Lastly, glycolic acid can interfere with melanin production, the pigment responsible for giving skin its color. It does so by inhibiting tyrosinase activity.

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation

Skin can be marred by dark marks as a result of the skin’s healing process. A skin injury or inflammation can trigger an overproduction of melanin and cause hyperpigmented spots where the original injury occurred.

Of all skin types, skin of color is most at risk, as this type has greater levels of melanin. It is also  difficult to treat, as additional inflammation can result. However, very superficial to superficial peels are well tolerated and have been proven to be a gentle, yet effective solution when performed with care.

In one small study comparing the effectiveness of combination therapy using hydroquinone, glycolic acid gel and tretinoin versus combination therapy plus 6 glycolic acid peels, the latter group showed a faster and greater improvement in postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.   


Sunspots or solar lentigines are a very common outcome of chronic sun exposure and result due to an overproduction of melanin. This overproduction occurs in response to the skin attempting to protect itself from the sun’s harmful rays. 

In the same way glycolic acid lightens melasma and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, the same is true for sunspots.

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