By Alix Turoff
After Samantha’s chemical peel disaster on Sex and the City, where her anti-aging chemical peel ended up more closely resembling a chemical burn, peels got a bed rap. But the truth is that the burn-like, Samantha-style, deep chemical peel is pretty much obsolete (other than in extreme cases and under the very careful care of a physician) – thank goodness – but that doesn’t mean that we’re left without a means by which to peel off that dead, dull, pore-clogging layer of skin cells! Rather, chemical peels have not disappeared. Instead, they’ve gotten a makeover – a dramatic one!
While the word “chemical” may scare you, hear us out… Not all chemicals are created equal (or evil). In fact, the acids used in the majority of chemical peels today are natural and come from sugar cane, milk and wintergreen, and actually work to not only exfoliate but also to heal the skin as well as prevent future damage. The goal, however, remains the same: to remove the outer layers of the skin and to boost collagen production for a more clear, even and youthful looking complexion. And whether you’re dealing with aging skin, acne or sun damage, a peel just may be the best solution for you. So, we tried out the best of the best and found the winners in the gentle, medium and deep peel categories and now we’re sharing our findings with you!
Lunch Time Peels… Light peels, a.k.a “lunch-time peels,” use Alpha-hydroxy acids, betahydroxy acids, enzymes and Vitamin C to brighten and smooth the skin without any lengthy recovery time. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, slight redness may occur but nothing that can’t be covered up with a little concealer.
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Revealing Mask ($46 at sephora.com) is a gentle exfoliating mask, ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies. The scent is light, refreshing and spa-like; the applicator is soft and soothing; and the easy-to-apply mask tightens the skin and lessens the appearance of pores in just minutes. Plus, you only need a little bit to cover the face, making the price tag easier to swallow.
Reviva Labs Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel ($20 at revivalabs.com) gently “peels” the dried skin cells in an even more gentle way than a manual exfoliation scrub, making it ideal for women with highly sensitive skin. That being said, even those of us with less sensitive skin can benefit from using this peel once a week to help dissolve dead skin cells that prevent other products from penetrating properly.
Skyy Hadley’s DIY Peel (free-ish in your kitchen) is a light peel you can whip up using ingredients found in your kitchen for tighter, younger looking skin! In a small bowl, mix about a cup of dry oatmeal and one pureed cucumber until well blended. Then add about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise to the mixture. Apply a thin layer of the mixture over your face and cover your eyes with two cucumber slices to reduce any puffiness and bags you may have under your eyes. Leave on for about 10 minutes and wash off with warm water.
Weekend Peels… Medium Peels are often called “weekend peels,” because while they won’t keep you out of commission for too long, some of these peels that use trichloracetic acid, glycolic and Vitamin A may make your skin a bit swollen or red for a couple of days, especially if you have more sensitive or reactive skin.
LIERAC Paris Comfort Peel Wrinkle Smoother ($52 at cvs.com) gives skin back its youthful glow while simultaneously decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Epitomizing the French approach to beauty, this peel aims to be both natural and elegant – and was our favorite in terms of anti-aging and moisturizing.
Suki Renewal Bio-Resurfacing Facial Peel ($75 at sukiskincare.com) can treat everything from rosacea to acne and is ideal for those looking to “spot treat” (or just peel a certain area, like your T-zone). The cranberry glycolic acid exfoliates and lessens fine lines; apple and pumpkin enzymes decongest pores; white willow bark treats blemishes and inflammation; and vitamin C polypeptides accelerate collagen production. If an unsightly zit pops out before a big event, apply this peel to the problem area and it will be virtually gone by the next day!
Deep Peels… Deep peels are the strongest of the peels and may not be appropriate for all skin types. Make sure to do a test patch before you treat your whole face – and don’t overdo it!
Murad Intensive Resurfacing Peel (12 treatments for $165 at dillards.com) uses Bamboo Bead microdermabrasion to peel away the rugged outer layer of skin to reveal a more smooth and youthful complexion. We noticed a marked reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and a brighter skin tone after just one treatment. And although we noticed some sensitivity in our skin after the first few treatments, with continued use, the redness went away!
Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel ($85 at sephora.com) is a really easy to use, 2 step treatment that is known for its anti aging benefits. And while this product is certainly great at reducing fine lines and wrinkles, what we loved most was how quickly it shrunk our pores.
GoodSkin Labs Citra-Peel High Intensity Resurfacing Peel ($12.42 at amazon.com) was one of the most affordable of the peels, but definitely not the cheapest in terms of anti aging benefits. While very intense, this peel provided the quickest results by exposing the skin to changing pH levels to increase cellular renewal thereby yielding younger and smoother skin.