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Hi, 

I have some acne scars left over from my younger years and I'd really like to get rid of them if possible. I have heard that a skin peel is the way to go, but that's where it gets confusing. Should I go for a Glycolic or Lactic Acid Peel for my acne scars? I have mixed skin and don't usually use any products other than a normal moisturizer. I'm not using anything for acne any more since the acne problem is over now. My scars aren't super bad or anything, I'd just like to do away with them, but I'm guessing a gentler product might work out for me.

TIA

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Hiya,

Well, if you're a peel "virgin", I'd be going for the glycolic acid if I was you. That stuff is much milder and just gets rid of the dead skin and stuff that builds up on there over time, giving your skin that smoother more glowing look, you know? I wouldn't know if that would necessarily get rid of all your acne scars (don't know how bad they are, right?) but it's a good starting point for the noobs. So I'd start with the glycolic peels and then follow it up with a nice Vit C serum which also works on the scarring. Then see where you go from there. 

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I second that. Alpha hydroxy acid (which Glycolic acid is) is gentler on the skin, giving you less obvious peeling and is very effective. If you have sensitive skin, it's always the way to go. Glycolgic acid goes deeper into the skin than other alpha hydroxy acids and it will help you improve lines, age spots, sun damage and acne scars. The first time you use them you don't know what to expect, so I would recommend starting with simple 60 second peels.
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This is not what you are going to want to hear, but it is my experience and it could be yours too, so I want to warn you.

After spending time reading about peels on the internet, I did use glycolic peel on my face four times.

Rather than ending up with beautiful glowing skin with reduced scars and lines, I ended up with burns.

Burns.

In other words, I got exactly what I did not want but worse. It took my skin over a month to heal and even then I can still see the marks when I look carefully.

Needless to say I am not doing this again and I would warn others to stay away from this unless they are extremely knowledgeable as well. I am not saying that the results you see in the mags cannot happen, but the opposite can also happen.

Peels are very potent. They are not for everyone. Especially done at home without prior knowledge.
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Hi again,

I've been doing a lot of reading over the last few days. It's interesting that a few of you recommend the glycolic acid peels, I'll keep that in mind, thanks. I don't want burns though, quite right! That sounds really scary and I'm sorry you went through that, really :(.

About the lactic acid, here's some of the info I found about them:

Some say that lactic acid is in fact more gentle than anything with alpha hydroxy. Many who have used them say that their scars, lines, and pigmentation got better with regular use and are just really happy about the way their skin looks. They do say you have to wear a sunscreen after using the peels, which OK, really people should be doing that irregardless of what they use on their skin. There are also creams and lotions with lactic acid that you can use on your skin instead if you are scared of doing the peels.

To be honest, this is what I am leaning towards doing right now. I don't have a lot of time and don't really want to spend time at the salon right now. I also don't want anything weird to happen to my face.

Does anyone here know anything more about glycolic vs lactic acid peels for acne scars and also about how to avoid burns?

Thanks!
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Also, when I look around to see why women get burns after using glycolic acid peels at home, I see a lot of them are talking about using the 70% one and then doctors saying that that is just too strong. Then they say to wash the face gently and use Aquaphor and hydrocortisone cream and to stay out of the sun. If that doesn't work, go to a dermatologist.

I would probably start off with the weakest stuff I can find for the first time because I have been scared by people saying it can cause burns. That should be OK, shouldn't it? Again, hoping someone can answer this.
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That was me again, by the way, Icecream cones.
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Hi,

Glycolic and lactic acid are both alpha hydroxy acids. While gycolic acid is derived from sugar cane, lactic acid is derived from sour milk. Lactic acid is the milder option of the two. Lactic acid peels will improve age spots and kill bacteria. Glycolic acid goes into the epidermis, reducing wrinkles, acne and scarring. A lot of the function depends on which strength you use as well. A stronger peel will go deeper, but is not the best option for someone who is new to peels, and most definitely not if you are actually contemplating doing it at home. If you want the full benefit of your peel without the risks, you should have it done by a professional. It will cost more, but in return for that you can feel worry free.

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Hi,

Glycolic and lactic acid are both alpha hydroxy acids, and both will go a way towards reducing the acne scars on your skin. Glycolic acid is weaker, and therefore you are likely to need several rounds before you start noticing apparent improvements to your skin. The benefit of glycolic acid is that it is weaker, meaning you are less likely to deal with side effects or be embarrassed to go out the days after you have a peel. If you are a peel virgin, this is the way to go. It is possible to do peels at home, but you should only do that after you read up on the correct procedure, and I would not do it if you have not previously had a peel done at a salon.
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Whether you will benefit most from glycolic acid peels, lactic acid peels, a deeper peel, or something completely different such as non-ablative fractional lasers depends on the condition of your skin: how deep are your scars? Do you still have active acne outbreaks? Do you have any other blemishes, or pigmentation, or lines that you would like to deal with? Surface peels will not rid you of deep acne scars, not even if you have a whole series of sessions. I would advise you to show your skin to a dermatological surgeon and see what they say is best for your situation.
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Glycolic acid peels are superficial peels that do have the potential to REDUCE the appearance of acne scars. Such scars can also be accompanied by redness, and glycolic peels can certainly help with that aspect. As it cannot reach the deeper layers of the skin, glycolic acid does not have the potential to repair any damage that does reach those deeper layers. This is something to be aware of. It doesn't mean a glycolic acid peel will not help you (your complexion will be brighter in any case) but it does mean you have to be realistic before you start. One peel will not make your scarring disappear, and for optimal results you may well need a deeper peel. Laser resurfacing is going to be much more expensive than any kind of peel, especially if you were planning on applying it yourself, but it is also much more successful at removing acne scars. Ultimately, this is something you should look into for the best results.
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It is worth keeping in mind that chemical peels ARE good options for acne when over the counter or prescription creams have not given you the results you want. They CAN also help with acne scarring, but not always. Acne scarring is an individual thing, meaning some people will have superficial acne scars that will be resurfaced just by doing a glycolic acid peel, some will need TCA or phenol peels, and for some, chemical peels will not improve scarring much at all. It depends on how deep the scarring goes, which is why it is so important to have your skin assessed before you decide on what treatment option to pursue for your scarring.
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