Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or salicylic acid peels are not as popular as AHA peels, yet they can be equally effective and have specific advantages for some skin types. A salicylic acid solution can work in a way that is similar to a glycolic acid peel, but irritation may be reduced. Salicylic acid is a compound closely related to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), and it retains its aspirin-like anti-inflammatory properties. A deep BHA peel can be superior for many skin types because the irritation and inflammation are kept to a minimum due to the analgesic action of the BHA compound. Salicylic acid is also lipid soluble; therefore, it is a good peeling agent for blemish-prone skin with blackheads. The most common concentrations used today are 20% to 30%.
BHA peels are also the preferred option for those with sensitive skin, including skin affected by rosacea. Note that some people with rosacea cannot tolerate salicylic acid. If you have rosacea, consider experimenting with a skin-care product that contains salicylic acid.