Salicylic Acid Skin Peels: Before, During, and After

Salicylic acid is a gentle acid used in mild and deeper chemical peels to treat acne and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and blemishes. Salicylic acid is safe for use on all skin types, and can have dramatic results even when used in lower concentrations. Preparing for your salicylic acid peel properly can help you get the most out of your treatment.

Preparing for Your Salicylic Acid Peel

Salicylic acid is not safe for use during pregnancy. While dermatologists tentatively agree that using a cleanser with up to two percent salicylic acid may be safe during pregnancy, a full-blown chemical peel is definitely not. Salicylic acid has been proven to cause birth defects and pregnancy complications. You shouldn’t use it while breastfeeding, either. Make sure you won’t be pregnant or breastfeeding when you receive your peel.

You can prepare your skin for a chemical peel by using a retinoid cream daily for four to six weeks prior to your peel. A cream containing Retin-A, or alphahydroxy acids (AHA), can begin the exfoliation process. That way, when you receive your chemical peel, the acids will be better able to penetrate your skin’s surface. When skin is properly prepared, salicylic acid can remove more dead cells from the surface and leave your new face looking even fresher, brighter, and younger.

Before undergoing any cosmetic or other medical procedure, you should discuss the risks and possible side effects with your doctor. Mild skin peels with salicylic acid and other gentle ingredients, like lactic acid, carry few risks, since they don’t really penetrate deep enough into the skin to cause scarring, pigmentation changes, or demarcation lines.

You should remember that, just because a peel formula contains salicylic acid, that doesn’t mean it’s gentle or mild. Jessner’s solution, a deeper peel formula, contains salicylic acid, but it also contains stronger acids such as retinol that should be applied by a professional to minimize the risk of scarring and other complications.

You should be aware that salicylic acid carries a risk of allergic reaction in those who are sensitive to aspirin and other salicylates. If you have or think you might have an aspirin allergy, you shouldn’t have a salicylic acid peel. Try a peel using AHAs, lactic acid, or glycolic acid instead.

During Your Salicylic Acid Peel

You can either get an at home Salicylic Peel or go to an office to get one. done. The peel procedure itself will last no longer than ten minutes. Afterward, you will need to be neutralize the acids and may apply ointment to keep your skin moist during the healing process.

After Your Salicylic Acid Peel

If you’ve had a mild peel, your skin may be red for up to 24 hours. You may experience flaking and peeling for a few days. Stay out of the sun and use a moisturizer to relieve flaking.

If you have received a deeper peel, you may need up to two weeks’ recovery time. During recovery, your skin will form a brown crust. This crust will fall off after about a week, and the skin below will be bright pink. The pinkness will gradually fade over several weeks. Keep the treatment area clean and dry and use the ointment your dermatologist gives you to keep the treated skin moist and prevent infection. Once the brown crust falls off, you can begin moisturizing as normal and wearing cosmetics.

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