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.
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.