[Get with the Winning Team] The Exfoliating Ingredient that Outperforms Glycolic Acid

Skin Care
After learning of the power of acids to eliminate dead skin cells and diminish discoloration I immediately sought to implement it into my daily skin routine.  So far, I've picked up a glycolic acid based cleanser and a serum.

Although the products I chose are pretty mild in strength, I still enjoyed some benefits.  Recently, a facialist checked my skin up close under ultra bright lights and commented on how well the scars were fading.  That made me feel good but, in reality, it's still taking way too long for them to finally go away.

Today I stumbled on a study that detailed the effectiveness of acids on treating discoloration. Turns out that I could have experienced faster results if I had gone with a different type of acid.
The study involved a group of 50 participants.  The women ranged in ages from 30-60 years old.  These ladies struggled with hyperpigmentation along with fine lines and wrinkles.  For 12 weeks, they were instructed to apply either a glycolic acid or a salicylic acid peel.  This was done bi-weekly over the course of 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, 41% of the salicylic acid group experienced a noticeable improvement in their fine line & wrinkles compared to 30% of the glycolic acid group.  With regards to discoloration, 46% of the women noticed a significant improvement thanks to salicylic acid versus the 34% who noticed improvement with glycolic acid.  Essentially, the study demonstrated that salicylic acid was superior to glycolic when it comes to treating wrinkles and discoloration.  They also concluded that salicylic acid was effective at a lower concentration.  A solution of only 10% salicylic acid was as effective as a 20-50% glycolic acid solution.

Salicylic acid may sound familiar to you if you've ever purchased an over the counter acne wash.  Not only is it a great exfoliating agent but it also can help you address your acne concerns.  It penetrates pores while delivering powerful anti-inflammatory qualities.  This makes salicylic acid a superior exfoliator if you have oily or acne prone skin.

Now that I'm armed with this information, I'm definitely switching over to salicylic acid to see if it's a better option for me.  Based on the results of the study alone, I feel like a salicylic peel would make more sense.  Don't get me wrong, glycolic is good, but I'm looking for even greater results and according to the folks heading the study, "salicylic acid peels are better."


  1. Hi Nadege!
    Lactic acid is actually the best for skin discoloration! I have been able to drastically reduce my dark marks after only 3 peels! I use peels from MUAC. You should start with the 40% lactic acid and weekly peels. Let me know how it goes!

    1. I also use MUAC 40% lactic acid peels and try to do weekly or bi-weekly. I've seen improvement in skin texture, the speed in which pores clear and some reduction in hyperpigmentation. The peel also comes in 55% and 65%. They also have a Fade Serum that has some pretty good ingredients - Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid, Licorice Extract, Mulberry Leaf Extract, Resveratol, Lactic Acid, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) that you can try for $10. I am going to start using that a few days a week in the evening in September to see how it works before getting a regular size. I've used salicylic acid, Paula's Choice, for a good while and although it helped clear pores well, it was very, very drying and also caused my skin to get darker over time so I discontinued it. Also, note if you are allergic to aspirin, do not use as it will cause an allergic reaction.

    2. Loving the sound of this fade serum. It has all the good stuff!

  2. Salicylic acid penetrates deeper than lactic or glycolic acid because it is a bha as opposed to an aha. It also better targets acne. I've used all three and I've found lactic and glycolic acids to sting less when I use them...but salicylic gives me better results (and some more pain).

  3. Very interesting study. My skin reacted to SA at up to 2% so I definitely can't use it as a peel. I always associated it to treating acne while GA was better for exfoliating. I've seen a Cerave SA exfoliating body lotion though


  4. Thanks so much for this post! I did a salicylic peel last night and wow! My face was so soft.


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