There are numerous acne creams, gels, lotions, scrubs, and more that are available as over-the-counter products at the local drugstore. While some of these products can be essential parts of a regular skincare routine, many individuals continue to suffer with acne even after consistently using them. When an acne sufferer is looking for alternative treatments from a skincare professional, chemical peels are often the first treatment offered. Chemical peels have been used for many years to treat acne and are considered to be the most effective and affordable options available. There are many different types of peels but what is the best chemical peel for acne?
Professional Acne Treatments
When an acne sufferer starts to look for professional treatment options, cost will often be an important consideration. The cost of acquiring a laser device and training staff as well as the time it takes to perform a procedure can lead to high prices for the patient. Laser treatment for acne can cost $1,000 or more for each treatment and multiple sessions are required.
Compared to laser treatments, chemical peels will have much less up-front costs for the professional. Multiple sessions of chemical peels may be required, but often packaging them together can result in a treatment regimen that is affordable while still being effective.
Prescription creams and pills are also available for acne but may have unwanted side effects and a longer time to see results. The results from a chemical peel are visible soon after treatment as the irritation goes away and the skin heals.
The Best Chemical Peel for Acne
Acne is caused by pores becoming clogged with sebum and growth of bacteria in the skin. A chemical peel both penetrates to unclog pores and removes blemished skin from the surface through exfoliation. It also can allow other acne-clearing products to penetrate the skin more effectively. Peels are well tolerated by most patients and consistently effective at improving the complexion. The two most commonly used types for acne are glycolic acid peels and salicylic acid peels.
The research on chemical peels mostly favors salicylic acid as the best chemical peel for treating acne. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that exfoliates and clears pores. It is ideal for use on acne-prone skin that is oily with both blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory properties that may make treatments more tolerable.
Compared to alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid, BHAs tend to be less irritating and are more effective at lower concentrations. BHAs are lipid-soluble while AHAs are water-soluble. This makes BHAs like salicylic acid better for individuals with oily skin.
Why is Salicylic Acid the Best Chemical Peel for Acne?
- Salicylic acid peels are well-tolerated by most individuals with few adverse effects besides mild irritation and discomfort. When it comes to treating acne they may be better than other chemical peels like glycolic acid and show quicker improvement.
- Multiple studies confirm that salicylic acid is superior to other chemical peels for treating acne including glycolic acid and Jessner’s peels.
- Beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid have fewer side effects and a more sustained effect than alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid.
- Salicylic acid may result in less of an increase in sun sensitivity than glycolic acid.
Other Chemical Peels
There are several types of chemical peels used by skincare professionals for treating acne, melasma, wrinkles, photodamage, and more. Some of these include TCA peels, Jessner’s peels, and lactic acid peels. Each professional usually develops their own technique for utilizing peels and will customize treatments to an individual’s skin concern and skin type. Multiple customized strengths of chemical peels are available from a compounding pharmacy to better meet the needs of each individual.