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It is a type of superficial chemical peel which sloughs off dead skin cells from upper layers. At the same time, the peel smoothes skin by reducing the horny layer and thickening the living epidermis. The procedure helps normalize hyper pigmentation like pimples and pigment spots.


At cosmetology, glycolic peel is generally performed in two variants:

1. Superficial peel with acid concentration up to 40% and pH from 2.4 to 4.5. 
It affects the superficial horny skin layer only and exfoliates (sloughs off) dead keratinocytes without affecting proliferative processes. It is prescribed mainly for young oily skin with minor problems, as well as for brightening and smoothing skin. Substantial advantages of such like peels include the possibilities of frequent usage and urgent application for festive events. 

2. Aggressive peel with acid concentration of 40-70% and pH level under 2.8. 
In such peels, glycolic acid is more active. It penetrates deeper skin layers and activates the proliferation of derma fibroblasts and basal keratinocytes of the horny layer. The effect of such peel will be superficial-medium or medium, with all the medium peel particularities: hyperemia, flaking, mild pains, and brown crust formation. 

Glycolic peel is recommended both for young and aged (after 40 years) skin and is used on all skin types, especially oily and mixed-type skin. 


Procedure Specifics Planning peels with glycolic acid is best in autumn and winter when sun activity is relatively low. This prevents hyper pigmentation after peels. To predict whether pigment spots will appear in spring or summer is rather difficult. Still, after peels, even in autumn and winter it is recommended to apply sunscreen with maximal sun protection factor (SPF). The number of peels and the concentration of acid in the solution are determined directly by aesthetician after examining the condition and problems of skin. Unlike deep chemical peel, glycolic peel is unable to fix rough scarred skin, hyperkeratosis and deep wrinkles. The procedure does not involve using anesthetics, but practically all patients experience unpleasant sensations and discomfort. This might include burning, prickling, tingling, combined with reddening. In rare cases of incorrect acid concentration in relation to the skin type and current problems, as well as in cases of prolonged exposure to the solution, burns can appear. These burns are subject to home treatment with any burn-treating medications. If second-degree burns (blisters on skin) appear, it is vital to consult a physician and receive a corresponding treatment scheme.


1. Hyper pigmentation (if not connected with a systemic disease); 
2. Skin aging; 
3. Dryness, low firmness of skin; 
4. Skin problems (post acne, acne, blackheads); 
5. Visible scars from earlier skin inflammation (scars and “dimples” from deep acne); 
6. Pronounced mimic wrinkles; 
7. Minor stretch marks and stigmata on face and body; 
8. Hyperkeratosis (thickening of skin horny layer); 
9. Oily skin with enlarged pores; 
10. Seborrhea (excessive sebaceous secretion caused by sebaceous glands dysfunction); 
11. Molluscum contagiosum treatment and preventive care; 
12. Preparatory stage before more serious and intensive cosmetic procedures (plastic surgery, laser and mechanical skin polishing). 


1. Definite allergic reaction or suspected case for a component of the solution (this needs a detailed examination and allergy verification); 
2. Inflammatory elements on skin; 
3. Open wounds, cuts on the face and immediate skin areas; 
4. Herpetic infection in its exacerbation stage, healing herpetic lesions on face and immediate skin areas; 
5. Increased photosensitivity of skin cover; 
6. Pregnancy and lactation; 
7. New growths and warts; 
8. Recent hair removal or eyebrow correction; 
9. Exposure to UV rays; 
10. Serious systemic illnesses. 

With care glycolic peels should be used for those who apply retinoids (structural analogues of retinol – vitamin A) with medicinal or cosmetic purposes, since these substances increase greatly the effect of glycolic acid on skin. 


Pre-Peel treatment 

Before glycolic peel, it is advised to have pre-peel treatment during 7-14 days. It helps skin adapt to the acid, normalizes pH and smoothes skin cover. Pre-peel treatment comprises solutions with 5-10% of glycolic acid and pH from 3.0 to 4.5. It may include other fruit acids, in particular lactic acid. Glycolic acid hardly penetrates fats, and before applying a glycolic acid solution skin should be cleansed with lotion. For the first 4-5 days, solution is applied in the evening, and later on – twice a day, morning and evening. If your skin is very sensitive and dry, continue to apply it once, in the evening. On the day of the salon procedure acid solutions are not used. 

Sensitivity test 

Superficial chemical peel with glycolic acid is usually safe and is performed without anesthetics. But a local allergy test is still necessary. Skin is tested on the day before the procedure. Some peel solution is applied on bend of elbow and then is washed off after a standard period of time. During the next 24 hours the observed skin area should remain under thorough supervision. A local allergic reaction appears as strong burning, long-lasting reddening, and any unpleasant sensations that last a lot longer than expected. Being a fairly strong irritator, glycolic acid can cause gravest reactions. That is why correct pre-peel treatment is necessary. 
If there are any doubts in local allergic test results, it is better to cancel the procedure or, for a start, to perform it on a small area of skin. Cheeks are the most preferable zone for it due to thicker epidermis. But it is still advised to postpone the procedure and sign for a thorough examination to exclude allergic reactions completely. 


After-Peel treatment 

The interval between glycolic peels is determined directly by the supervising cosmetologist and depends on the skin's overall regenerative function in each individual case. On the average, peels can be repeated every five days. Online, one can read that glycolic peeling is so safe that skin can rest not for days, but even for several hours. However, this is a wrong suggestion; skin needs several days in order to regenerate completely after application of however mild, but still acidic solution. 

After peel, skin is treated with protective cream with maximal protection factor. 




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