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Ask Dr. Schultz | Skin Care Guides | Selecting an At-Home Chemical Peel for Acne

Selecting an At-Home Chemical Peel for Acne

The extra oil. The pimples. The enlarged pores. Acne can really do a number on your skin. Chemical peels can provide the non-abrasive exfoliation to get deep inside your pores to lessen acne symptoms and improve your appearance.

Since there are several available at-home chemical peels for acne on the market, you have some considerations to make when it comes to determining the best for you.

How Does Acne Clog Your Skin

Acne is named for the P. acnes bacteria that can accumulate in the skin and cause acne blemishes. The skin condition develops when your skin makes extra oil that combines with dead skin cells and bacteria to form plugs in your pores. These plugs start to bulge, resulting in pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and even the more painful pimples, which are called nodules.

When you have acne, you need to exfoliate the skin, yet scrubbing can worsen the condition. However, you need a method to rid the face of dead skin cells as well as penetrate deep into the pores to break up the acne clogs.

That's where chemical exfoliation and an at-home chemical peel for acne can come in.

Chemical Exfoliation Benefits

Chemical exfoliation is an excellent alternative to physical exfoliation for several reasons, including:
- less risk for uneven application to the skin
- less risk for causing skin damage, such as inflammation or broken blood vessels
- less risk for trauma and irritation to existing pimples

Chemical exfoliation penetrates the pores and allows the chemicals to do the work for you. Chemical peels contain varying percentages of chemicals proven to exfoliate the skin.

Glycolic Acid for Acne Treatment

While there are several chemicals on the market to exfoliate the skin - including salicylic acid, fruit enzymes and lactic acid - the gold standard for at-home chemical peels for acne is glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane. While there are several AHAs on the market, glycolic acid has the smallest molecules. This is of benefit for acne sufferers because the acid can penetrate the skin more deeply.

When it does, it acts like a de-gluer by breaking up the oil, dirt, and dead skin cells in the pores. A glycolic chemical peel applied to the skin on a nightly basis, like The Progressive Peel, can exfoliate the skin without the redness, irritation, or downtime that physical exfoliation or other chemical peel types can.

The Right Glycolic Peel for Acne

When selecting a glycolic peel for acne, it is imperative that the peel is formulated for those with "Oily Skin" or "Acne-Prone Skin." Products marked for those or "All Skin Types" or that are marked "Oil-Free" or "Non-Comedogenic" are appropriate.

Glycolic Acid vs. Retin A

Some people compare glycolic acid to another exfoliation type - retinol. This form of vitamin A is used in acne treatment to encourage skin cell turnover. However, retinol and glycolic acid work in very different ways, with glycolic acid being the milder, yet effective, method for use. Retinols can cause a local reaction when exposed to the skin, resulting in inflammation and irritation.

By comparison, an at-home chemical peel for acne using glycolic acid is a much milder option in terms of side effects, because there are none.

Glycolic acid does not encourage exfoliation via irritation and skin sloughing. Instead, glycolic acid results in the release of already-dead skin cells from the outer portion of the skin as well as the dissolution of the built-up oil inside the pores.

Through the nightly application of a skin-type-appropriate glycolic acid chemical peel, acne sufferers can reveal clearer skin.

Allure: 6 Things You Didn't Know About Acids
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: What Is Acne?

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