How Often Should You Use a Glycolic 30% Peel?

Woman having facial mask at beauty salon
A glycolic peel exfoliates and tightens skin. (Image: Valua Vitaly/iStock/Getty Images)

If you want to improve skin tone, get rid of dryness and flakes or diminish fine lines, you may be considering a glycolic peel. A type of alpha hydroxy acid chemical peel derived from sugar cane, a glycolic peel is considered a mild chemical peel. Also known as a fruit acid peel, the glycolic solution is brushed onto the skin and left on for several minutes, offering light exfoliation. These treatments may be applied at regular intervals for a number of weeks to achieve the desired results.

Strength and Benefits

Glycolic peels are considered skin-freshening peels, according to the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Center. This is because glycolic acid works to loosen the bonds that hold dead skin cells to healthy skin cells. Chemical peels are applied in varying concentrations. The higher the chemical peel number, the deeper it penetrates the skin, according to CosmeticSurgery.com. Glycolic acid peels that are a 30-percent concentration are considered mild peels, while 70-percent solutions penetrate more deeply. The 30-percent glycolic solution helps to reduce fine lines, acne and areas of hyperpigmentation.

Time Frame

A glycolic peel typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes to perform. Because the 30-percent glycolic acid peel does not deeply penetrate the skin, it can typically be repeated every two to four weeks, according to the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Center. This may vary based on your skin’s reaction to the treatment itself. When spaced appropriately, you can undergo glycolic acid peels as often as you like. Johns Hopkins states that at least six sequential treatments are needed to experience results such as reduction in fine lines or acne. After that time, you may wish to undergo “maintenance” peels every few months.

Side Effects

The level of side effects you experience can determine how often you undergo a chemical peel. Common side effects include redness, irritation and skin itching. Your skin also may peel or flake for a few days, according to Glycolic.org. If you experience irritation and redness leading up to the time to undergo your next glycolic peel, your aesthetician may recommend waiting one to two additional weeks before undergoing another.

Treatment and Care

If you wish to undergo glycolic peels as frequently as two weeks apart, you may wish to take a few steps to encourage skin repair between peels. This includes wearing a sunscreen containing a sun protection factor of 15, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This can help to minimize sun damage and irritation between treatments. You also can apply moisturizer to the skin to reduce redness between treatments. If you experience redness or inflammation after treatment, apply cold compresses; dip a washcloth in cold water and apply it to the skin for 10-minute intervals.

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