It would be difficult for fans of Sex and The City to forget the image of Samantha Jones and her burned red face post chemical peel. Ever since, the word acid peels leave somewhat a bad taste.
Thankfully, it’s 2020 and the beauty world has progressed by leaps and bounds. Case in point: You can now do your own acid peel at home with minimal risks involved.
Why do an at-home peel
Despite the economy slowly opening up, we are still in the midst of the pandemic and many are still cautious to return to their regular routines. With an at-home peel, you can manage your skin’s rejuvenation and regeneration on your own even with staggered or fewer appointments.
What is an acid peel
Acid peels typically consist of Alpha Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs). We’ve delved into the merits of each in our Drunk Elephant haircare review here, so skip this if you remember it. But here’s a quick summary:
AHAs are water-soluble acids, made from sugary fruits extracts. These encompass a wider range, including the most well-known and efficacious ones of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid. The more AHAs included and at lower strengths to minimise inflammation, the more effective the exfoliation and skin brightening effect. They peel away the surface of the skin.
BHAs on the other hand, are oil soluble, and penetrate deeper into the pores, purging excess sebum and dead skin cells. This refers to salicylic acid.
Why use an acid peel pad
You might wonder why one would use an acid peel pad when soaking cotton with an exfoliant works too. While both can lift dead skin cells as they wipe away any grime from the surface, some pads are specifically engineered to better pick up dead skin cells, or physically exfoliate skin via their dimpled, or mesh textures.
The OG acid peel pads
For the uninitiated, dermatologist Dr Dennis Gross is hailed as the father of the peel pads. Dr Gross first created a multi-acid peel with zero downtime, causing a surge of demands from New York elites who clamoured for an appointment at his clinic. According to his wife and CEO Carrie Gross in this interview, she shared that she was the brainchild behind the bestseller that shot the brand to fame.
“One day, I called him and I was like ‘I’m done’; just bring the peel home to me. And he did, and that’s when I had the light bulb moment: I’m going to start a business with this peel for people to use at home,” she said.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the peel pads are now available in a limited edition packaging of reusable tins.
My first time
Early this year, I had my first experience with the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads. It wasn’t my first foray with acids, having experienced success with Kate Somerville’s Liquid Exfolikate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment. But the Dr Dennis Gross offering takes acid usage up a few notches. For one, the daily peel is a two-step process, with the first pad packed with the acids, and the second with anti-aging actives to nourish your skin. With the first step, five acids are used — the most I’d ever applied on my skin in a single dose. For the second, the actives include retinol, a powerful ingredient that fights fine lines and wrinkles.
The peel is also recommended to be used daily, when most exfoliants are typically used twice or thrice a week. The stinging sensation you’ll feel when applying the first pad is inevitable. Wait two minutes for the formula to absorb before proceeding with the second.
Three weeks into using the peel pads, my skin looked brighter, and smoother for the most part. But my jawline, an area studded with hormonal acne, was dotted with smaller bumps that looked inflamed. But I’m giving this another shot. This time, by using the two pads separately, in order not to layer my actives and risk inflaming my skin. Or I’ll switch to the Ultra Gentle formula, which consists of three AHAs and BHAs.