Glycolic, Salicylic, Lactic, Mandelic or TCA peel- which one is best (Dermatocare's skin rejuvenation guide)

Written By Dr Aditi, MD Skin

Last updated: 19/09/18

“Doctor, Should I take glycolic, salicylic, mandelic, lactic or TCA peel? Are there any home-based peels? Is it safe to take chemical peels for my pre-bridals?” This article provide brief overview of different types of peels, namely TCA, glycolic lactic, and salicylic peels. So read on!

Before you proceed further, I would recommend you to read all the information on chemical peeling, so that you know what is chemical peel, how it is done and what are the benefits.

What are different types of chemical peels?

Peels can be differentiated into superficial, medium and deep peels according to the depth of the skin they penetrate. Most of the peels used now are superficial peels because they have minimal healing time, and no one can make out that you have taken one. Your dermatologist decides the most appropriate peeling agent based on your skin type and your primary complaint. There are many peeling agents available in various combinations; the most important ones are:   

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids(AHA): Glycolic acid, Lactic acid, Mandelic acid, Citric acid, Tartaric acid
  • Beta-hydroxy acids(BHA): Salicylic acid
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) 
  • Other agents like Pyruvic Acid, Resorcinol, Jessner’s solution, Retinoic acid, Phenol, etc.

What is salicylic acid peel?

Salicylic acid is beta hydroxyl acid that has the unique ability to seep into oil secreting glands and dissolves the oil secretions and help loosen the clogs plugging the opening of these glands. Thus, salicylic acid peels not only sheds dead skin cells but also reduces oil secretions, black/white heads, pimples and open pores. No doubts it is preferred for oily skin types.

What is TCA peel?

TCA stands for trichloro-acetic acid, and it is used as superficial and medium depth peels. TCA peel is usually followed visible peeling in the form of shedding of a thin layer of the skin over next 7 to 10 days and needs much more post-peel care. However, being deeper than other peels; it is usually used for a patient with multiple skin issue like age spots, pigmentation, superficial scars, pimples, skin texture changes due to aging. You might like to see the list of skincare products that can help in reducing Aging/wrinkles.

What is Glycolic acid (GA) peel?

Glycolic acid is alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA) commonly known as fruit peel. Its benefits had long been recognized when Polynesian women used sugarcane juice that contains GA in their beauty regime. Glycolic acid specifically helps in decreasing the pigmentation and hydrating the dry skin; thus is the perfect choice for non-sensitive dry and combination skin types.

What is Lactic acid peel?

Lactic acid has been in the use of skin care for ages; the much-celebrated beauty icon Cleopatra use to apply sour milk that contains lactic acid. Lactic acid is AHA, but much milder than the glycolic acid, thus preferred for sensitive skin types. 

Is it safe to use peels for pre-bridals?

Yes, they are safe; in fact series of peels over 1 to 2 months can boost up your looks before any important engagements. However if you have you have multiple skin issues, then they should be started at least six months before marriage. Peels have an edge over pre-bridal facials because a dermatologist does them after considering your skin type and issues. We usually use milder agents like lactic acid, arginine, mandelic acid near the most important day to minimize the chances of any untoward side effects.

Are home-based peels effective?

Face packs prepared from pineapple, papaya (rich in papain), orange, pomegranate, strawberry, tomato, lemon (rich in citric acid),  sour curd (rich in lactic acid), sugarcane juice (rich in glycolic acid) have peeling properties. They gently peel off or more precisely exfoliate your skin, thus showing small improvement on repeated usage. These peels also possess anti-oxidant and skin-lightening properties. Though mild they might still irritate your skin more so the sensitive skin types, it is always advisable to patch test before using them. 

What are the advantages of a peeling over other cosmetic procedures?

Chemical peels being non-invasive and having a little downtime, have an edge that no one can make out that you have taken one. This single procedure can tackle multiple skin issues. Since it is inexpensive compared to other rejuvenating procedures, it is affordable to get maintenance peels once in 1 to 3 months to keep up your radiant looks. However if you are expecting a drastic change in your wrinkles, sagging skin, scars, etc. then peels might not satisfy you. On the other hand instead of spending on a facial treatment in parlors, chemical peels might get you a lot more satisfaction at somewhat similar cost.


This write-up authored by Dr. Aditi, MD Skin. Dr. Aditi has a keen interest in aesthetic dermatology and anti-aging skin care. She can be reached at

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