White skincare bottles with green leaves on a light pink background.

Salicylic acid peels are specifically used to clear and exfoliate the skin. People often use them at home to treat different skin conditions, including psoriasis, acne and itching. Alternatively, dermatologists can treat patients with a salicylic acid peel in the office space.

For home use, most salicylic acid peels come in bottles or pads and can be found in drugstores or beauty supply shops. They will come with specific instructions to follow. As nourishing, cleansing agents, salicylic acid peels can alleviate skin from deep-rooted skin problems by clearing out built-up oil in lesions or the effects of skin pigmentation.


Salicylic acid peels, similar to collagen products, can have many benefits to people with various skin problems. People generally use them for treating long-term skin conditions. Treatment benefits include:

  • Reducing the pigmentation of freckles or sun spots
  • Reducing the severity of acne
  • Clearing or treating acne
  • Reducing skin roughness
  • Reducing fine lines and wrinkles

As part of the cleaning process, these peels can have a slight tingling or burning sensation upon application, but should not result in concern unless the sensation continues for a long period of time.

Side Effects

When determining how frequently to use a this on your skin, it is critical for people to consult with their doctor and/or dermatologist. Most peel treatments take around 2 to 4 weeks and 3 to 6 peels to show visible signs of improvement.

Does salicylic acid make your skin peel?

Salicylic acid peels target the lower layers of your skin. Some people may experience a realm of side effects after treating their skin, including:

  • Crusting Skin
  • Dryness Due to Over-Exfoliation
  • Irritation
  • Redness

Before using a salicylic acid peel, some people should take extra precautions or avoid using these peels at all. These groups include:

  • People with extremely sensitive skin
  • People who are allergic to salicylates
  • Pregnant women
  • People with dermatitis
  • People who take isotretinoin

It is important to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before using a salicylic acid peel at home. They will be able to determine the best, safest peel for individual needs and follow up on treatment.

What does it do?

A salicylic acid peel is a form of chemical peeling that causes “controlled chemical injury” to the skin through chemical exfoliation. In other words, these peels dig deep below the skin’s surface to clear out oil and other built-up particles that can cause acne and other unhealthy skin conditions. These peels promote healthy removal of skin lesions and the new development of both epidermal and dermal tissues in the skin.

People have used salicylic acid peels for over 2,000 to treat various skin conditions or lesions, including:

  • Warts
  • Acne
  • Melasma
  • Freckles
  • Rough, Dry Skin
  • Wrinkling & Fine Lines

The properties in salicylic acid are found in willow bark, sweet birch, and wintergreen leaves, but the compound can also be artificially manufactured.

How do you use salicylic acid on your face?

To use this peel at home:

  • Gently wash skin with clean water and pat dry.
  • Apply a small amount of salicylic acid to affected skin.
  • Let dry.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Reapply 1 to 3 times each day, depending on a doctor’s recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Salicylic acid peels can act as healing agents for all types of skin conditions. They are powerful skin treatments, so it is critical for people to seek medical advice before routinely using them.

Though these skin treatments are distributed in over-the-counter bottles and jars, some dermatologists offer the treatment in-office. Some medical professionals may recommend to first try a treatment or two in-office before using it at home.

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