There is more than one way to achieve smooth, radiant, glowing skin. Retinol spiked products and vitamin C serums should be in everybody’s beauty product arsenal but one of the most effective ways to give skin a boost is with a deep exfoliation. There are a couple of different ways to get rid of dead skin cells, and one of the best is a chemical peel. They can be done in a dermatologist’s office or a medical spa, but one of the best and most cost effective versions is the at-home chemical peel. They are milder than ones done in a dermatologist’s office- but that’s not a bad thing. A milder at-home peel means less down time and potentially less irritation coupled with a big savings. Here’s a look at the best home chemical peels, what to look for and our top 10 peel products.
What is a Chemical Peel?
There are two ways to exfoliate the skin – manually and chemically. A manual scrub uses a chunky, abrasive formula containing ingredients like crushed apricot kernels to physically remove dead skin cells. The downside of using one on your face is that it can create micro tears, although they are generally fine on areas with rough skin as feet and elbows.
A chemical peel also provides a deep exfoliation of the skin, but does this in a more gentle way by using fruit and plant acids to dissolve dry, dead skin cells. Whisking away the top layer of the skin reveals fresher, smoother looking skin. They can also help to minimize pores and soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and work to improve the texture of skin. A chemical peel can also help with acne scars, hyperpigmentation and dark spots such as melasma. In general they are safe for all skin types and colors.
What Are The Types of Chemical Peels?
Chemical peels can be done in a doctor’s office or at home. A doctor can perform a light, medium or deep peel which can often require weeks of recovery along with anesthesia, depending on how deep the peel goes. An at-home peel is more gentle with fewer risks and side effects but won’t go as deep as one performed by a doctor – accordingly, the results won’t be as dramatic.
All chemical peels contain a type of acid, usually an AHA (alpha hydroxy) or BHA (beta hydroxy). This includes glycolic acid, which also helps to brighten skin, as well as lactic acid which is suitable for all skin types. Salicylic acid, like other BHAs, is ideal for anyone with oily and acne prone skin as it works to help unclog pores and minimize acne. Lactic acid works on all skin types and helps fade dark spots. Other types of acid include mandelic, which helps target enlarged pores, and phytic acid which is ideal for sensitive skin.
What Should I Look For in a Chemical Peel?
When choosing a home chemical peel, look for ingredients that will slough off dead skin cells and also work on brightening the skin. A key ingredient is an AHA such as glycolic, lactic and citric acids as well as BHAs. These acids are derived from plants and fruits and work to gently dissolve dead skin cells. They also help to keep skin looking plump, firm and bright.
Salicylic acid, commonly found in acne products, helps to unclog pores and soften acne scars, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Keep an eye out for skin brightening vitamin C as well as ferulic acid. Some at home peels include a dose of retinol to help fade dark spots, while others contain clay and charcoal for acne prone skin.
Can Chemical Peels Help Acne Scars?
Absolutely. One of the best tools to help reduce and fade the look of acne scars is a chemical peel. Think of it this way. A chemical peel, like micro-needling, is a controlled injury to the skin which encourages cell turnover, resulting in smooth, fresh looking skin. An injury also kick starts the body’s repair response which causes it to produce collagen which helps fill in scars. It’s important to note that chemical peels are not as effective with raised or deeply pitted acne scars.
What Are The Side Effects From a Chemical Peel?
As with all things in life, there can be too much of a good thing so it’s important not to overdo it with an at-home peel. Peeling too frequently can backfire and lead to redness and irritation. Some people experience a light stinging sensation when using a peel. Anyone with sensitive skin, rosacea or using retinol based products may not react well to a chemical peel; if you’re using retinols, it’s a good idea to take a break from them for around two weeks before doing a peel. Most companies suggest only doing a chemical peel once or twice a week. If you plan to do a peel, skip other types of exfoliation that week such as a cleansing brush or a physical scrub on your face.
Microdermabrasion vs a Chemical Peel?
Both microdermabrasion and a chemical peel work in the same way, by removing a layer of skin to reveal a fresher, smoother looking complexion and help even out skin tone. They differ in how and where the procedures are performed. Microdermabrasion is done by a doctor or aesthetician. It is a physical exfoliation, as it works by spraying fine crystals to basically sandblast the top layer of skin, in conjunction with a suction tool. Skin is left smooth and glowing, but the procedure isn’t very effective for hyperpigmentation and acne scars. A peel can be done by a doctor or at a medical spa, but at-home versions are also available. A chemical peel uses acids to dislodge the dead skin cells that are on the skin’s surface while also helping with dark spots, acne scars and fine lines.
Can a TCA Peel Be Done at Home?
TCA is trichloroacetic acid which is used in doctor’s offices for some of the deepest peels. It works best for hyperpigmentation as well as acne scarring. It’s strong and can cause redness post peel. Anyone who has had a TCA peel should avoid the sun for months post-treatment. TCA is available in some over the counter beauty products but it won’t be the same strength as available in a doctor’s office.
How Do I Take Care of My Skin After a Peel?
After doing a peel, skin should be treated accordingly as it will be more prone to UV-damage and sunburn. After doing a peel, always apply a rich moisturizer to soothe the skin and be sure to use plenty of sunscreen. Reach for one containing at least an SPF 30 (or higher) and opt for a mineral sunscreen which is less irritating to sensitive skin.
Here’s how to put your best face forward with 10 favorite at home chemical peels.
Exuviance Performance Peel AP25
Glycolic acid and mandelic acid work together to whisk away dead skin cells and kick start cell rejuvenation. Each kit contains two sets of pads; the first one is the activator which contains the acids and should be left on for about 10 minutes while the second one is a skin-calming neutralizer.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade Resurfacing Liquid Peel
This product is a two step chemical peel. Step 1 is applying a solution with lactic and glycolic acids, as well as bromelain, to smooth and refine skin texture. Step 2 is a mix of green tea and colloidal oatmeal to help soothe skin.
Natura Bissé Glyco Extreme Peel
Looking to fade dark spots, brighten skin and smooth skin texture? Natura Bissé Glyco Extreme Peel can help. The formula contains five different alpha hydroxy acids to dissolve dead skin cells.
Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 20%
After cleansing, swipe a pad across the face and neck to help exfoliate the skin. Soaked with glycolic acid, the pads help to gently get rid of dry, dead skin while witch hazel tones and soothes. The pads also contain vitamins A, C, E and coenzyme Q10.
Glytone Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel
If you’re looking for silky smooth, blemish free skin, try Glytone Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel. They’re powered by glycolic acid. Apply the product and let it rest for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel
Twist open the top of this tube for an instant skin pick-me-up. Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel contains lactic acid, along with rice bran extract to speed up cell turnover. Rounding out the ingredients list is the antioxidant Australian caviar lime as well as glycerin to lock in moisture.
Vichy Idealia Peel
Apply this glycolic acid spiked cream at night and don’t rinse it off so you can wake up to better looking skin. Glycolic acid is paired with blueberry polyphenols, fermented black tea extract and Vichy mineralizing thermal water for maximum smoothness.
Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel
The key ingredient in this peel from Estée Lauder is a 9.9% concentration of AHAs (glycolic, tartaric and citric acids) to boost radiance and improve skin texture. Hyaluronic acid works to soothe and hydrate skin.
AMOREPACIFIC Treatment Enzyme Peel
Wipe out dry, dead skin surface cells with an application of this powder that turns into a creamy later by adding water. It’s formulated for daily use, and is powered by green tea-derived probiotic enzyme and papaya enzymes.
Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum
Everyone wants smoother looking skin but it can be easy to over do it with harsh scrubbing which can leave skin irritated or inflamed rather than glowing. Skip the grainy exfoliators and choose a gentle but effective AHA instead. Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum contains plant based acids to gently slough off old skin cells, leaving behind fresher, smoother looking skin. The serum also works to tackle unevenness and blotchiness.