Glycolic acid peels versus salicylic-mandelic acid peels in active acne vulgaris and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation: a comparative study

Dermatol Surg. 2009 Jan;35(1):59-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34383.x. Epub 2008 Dec 8.


Background: Many clinicians have used glycolic acid (GA) peels for facial acne, scarring, and hyperpigmentation, mainly in lighter skin types. Salicylic-mandelic acid combination peels (SMPs) are a newer modality, and there have been no well-controlled studies comparing them with other conventional agents.

Objective: To compare the therapeutic efficacy and tolerability of 35% GA peels and 20% salicylic-10% mandelic acid peels in active acne and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Methods and materials: Forty-four patients with facial acne and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation were divided into two groups, with one receiving GA peels and the other SMPs at fortnightly intervals for six sessions. The treating physician performed objective evaluation of treatment outcomes. The patients, the treating physician, and an independent observer made subjective assessments. Side effects of both agents were also noted.

Results: Both the agents were effective, but SMPs had a higher efficacy for most active acne lesions (p<.001) and hyperpigmentation (p<.001). Side effects were also lesser with SMPs.

Conclusion: Both the agents were effective and safe in Indian patients, with SMPs being better for active acne and post-acne hyperpigmentation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications
  • Acne Vulgaris / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chemexfoliation*
  • Cicatrix / etiology
  • Cicatrix / therapy*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Glycolates / adverse effects
  • Glycolates / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / therapy*
  • Male
  • Mandelic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Mandelic Acids / adverse effects
  • Salicylic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Salicylic Acid / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Drug Combinations
  • Glycolates
  • Mandelic Acids
  • glycolic acid
  • mandelic acid
  • Salicylic Acid