Skip to main content

Glycolic Acid Peel

  • 1083 Accesses

Part of the Clinical Approaches and Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology book series (CAPCD,volume 2)


Peelings are among the oldest and widespread procedures used in aesthetic dermatology worldwide. Chemical peels are classified as superficial, medium, and deep according to the depth of penetration of the peeling solution. The glycolic acid (GA) peel is the most used alpha hydroxy acid peel, producing a very superficial, superficial, or even a medium-depth peel, all of them usually well tolerated by patients and without systemic toxicity. GA peels have been used as an adjunctive therapy in a variety of skin disorders because of its anti-inflammatory, keratolytic, and antioxidant effects. The depth of glycolic acid peel depends on the concentration of the acid used, time of exposure, and skin condition. Acne (inflammatory and non-inflammatory), acne scars, melasma, photoaging, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation can be treated with GA peel, but the most common indication has been skin rejuvenation. As other AHA peels, it needs to be neutralized to end its action, and it should be repeated several times to achieve the desirable cosmetic result. They have practically no downtime, and results vary significantly from patient to patient, but with proper patient selection and correct technique, GA has great skin improvement potential. In addition, the GA peel can be used or combined with other techniques, such as botulinum toxin injections and dermal fillers to promote the rejuvenation of the aging face.


  • Glicolic acid peel
  • Alpha hydroxy acid peel
  • Chemical peeling
  • Superficial depth peel
  • Medium depth peel
  • Acne
  • Fine wrinkles
  • Epidermal melasma

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   249.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD   299.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  • Atzori L, Brundu MA, Orru A, Biggio P. Glycolic acid peeling in the treatment of acne. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 1999;12:119–22.

    CrossRef  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bernstein EF, Lee J, Brown DB, Yu R, Van Scott E. Glycolic acid treatment increases type I collagen mRNA and hyaluronic acid content of human skin. Dermatol Surg. 2001;27(5):429–33.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Coleman III WP, Futrell JM. The glycolic acid trichloroacetic acid peel. J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1994;20(1):76–80.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ditre CM. Alpha hydroxy acid peels. In: Rubin MG, Tung R, editors. Procedures in cosmetic dermatology series; chemical peels. St Louis: Elsevier; 2006. p. 27–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fabbrocini G, De Padova MP, Tosti A. Chemical peels: what’s new and what isn’t new but still works well. Facial Plast Surg. 2009;25(5):329–36. doi:10.1055/s-0029-1243082. Epub 2009 Dec 18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fabbrocini G, Padova MP, Tosti A. Glycolic acid. In: Tosti A, Grimes PE, Padova MP, editors. Color atlas of chemical peels. London: Springer; 2012. p. 9–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fartasch M, Teal J, Menon GK. Mode of action of glycolic acid on human stratum corneum: ultrastructural and functional evaluation of the epidermal barrier. Arch Dermatol Res. 1997;289:404–9.

    CrossRef  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fischer TC, Perosino E, Poli F, Viera MS, Dreno B. Cosmetic Dermatology European Expert Group Chemical Peels in aesthetic dermatology: an update. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2010;24:281–92.

    CrossRef  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson A. Chemical peels. Facial Plas Surg. 2014;30(1):26–31.

    CrossRef  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kadunc BV. Peelings químicos: médios e combinados. In: Kadunc B, Palermo E, Addor F, editors. Tratado de cirurgia dermatológica, cosmiatria e laser: da sociedade brasileira de dermatologia. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier; 2012. p. 311–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kede MPV, Guedes LS. Peelings químicos: superficiais. In: Kadunc B, Palermo E, Addor F, editors. Tratado de cirurgia dermatológica, cosmiatria e laser: da sociedade brasileira de dermatologia. Rio de Janeiro: Elsevier; 2012. p. 311–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Khunger N. Standard guidelines of care for chemical peels. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2008;74(Suppl S1):5–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim SW, Moon SE, Kim JA, Eun HC. Glycolic acid versus Jessner’s solution: which is better for facial acne patients? A randomized prospective clinical trial of split-face model therapy. Dermatol Surg. 1999;25(4):270–3.

    CrossRef  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Landau M. Chemical peels. Clin Dermatol. 2007;26:200–8. l therapy. Dermatol Surg 25(4): 270.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Monheit GD. The Jessner’s? TCA peel: a medium-depth chemical peel. J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1989;15:945–50.

    CrossRef  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Monheit GD, Chastain MA. Chemical and mechanical skin resurfacing. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, editors. Dermatology, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby; 2012. p. 2496–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Monheit GD, Kayal JD. Chemical peeling. In: Nouri K, Leal-Khouri S, editors. Techniques in dermatologic surgery. St Louis: Elsevier; 2003. p. 233–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murad H, Shamban AT, Premo PS. The use of glycolic acid as a peeling agent. Dermatol Clin. 1995;13:285–307.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rubin MG. Manual of chemical peels. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott; 1992. p. 14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sharad J. Glycolic acid peel – a current review. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013;6:281–8.

    CrossRef  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Tung R, Rubin MG. Procedures in cosmetic dermatology series: chemical peels. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2010.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Denise Steiner .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 Springer International Publishing AG

About this entry

Cite this entry

Steiner, D., Pascini, M.G. (2018). Glycolic Acid Peel. In: Issa, M., Tamura, B. (eds) Chemical and Physical Procedures. Clinical Approaches and Procedures in Cosmetic Dermatology, vol 2. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-16804-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-16805-0

  • eBook Packages: MedicineReference Module Medicine