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BACKGROUND Patients with skin of color demand treatment modality suitable for their skin. Salicylic acid peel has effectiveness for both of acne and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation that are common in patients with skin of color.

OBJECTIVE To assess the whitening effect of salicylic acid peels in Asian patients with acne objectively by the colorimetric method.

METHODS Twenty-four healthy adult patients with acne participated voluntarily in the study. Any other systemic and topical acne treatments were prohibited. They had undergone full-face peels with 30% salicylic acid in absolute ethanol bi-weekly for 3 months. Colorimetric changes of the face were recorded with reflectance spectrophotometer.

RESULTS Paired comparisons with pretreatment CIE L*a*b* showed abrupt descent of L* value after first peel (p=.0286). Then there was continued increase of mean L* value, even though the final L* value did not reach a statistically significant level. The mean a* value decreased continually, and the a* values recorded after the second, third, fourth, fifth, and final peel showed significantly lowered levels (p=.0027, .0005, <.0001, <.0001, <.0001).

CONCLUSION Salicylic acid peels are beneficial in whitening the face of Asian patients with acne. The whitening effect would be an important factor in choosing the superficial peeling agent for them.