This article originally appeared in the November 23rd, 2020 edition of Real Life Magazine
Written by Kristin Granero
Looking to achieve a next-level glow? More and more brands are offering potent solutions for achieving professional results right in the comfort of your powder room. “At-home chemical peels deliver high concentrations of hydroxy acids to the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “They help dissolve connections between dead cells so they can be shed, leaving behind a bright, fresh complexion. Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic, malic, phytic, and lactic acid are great for normal to dry skin, whereas beta hydroxy acids (such as salicylic acid) are a good go-to for people who are oily or acne-prone.”
But before you dive in, heed this: Our experts stress the importance of reviewing labels and following directions closely when performing treatments at home. “If a reaction occurs, schedule an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist stat,” advises Kristin Baird, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Longmont, Colo. To help you navigate the scene and find the products best suited for your skin, we tapped industry pros for some of their personal picks.
The alpha and beta hydroxy acids in these exfoliating pads from Skinbetter pack a powerful one-two punch. “They improve the tone and texture of the skin, as well as boost hydration. I typically use chemical exfoliants once a week at night in place of my typical retinoid and physical scrubs up to three times weekly in the morning,” says Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She advises following up with sunscreen in the morning and a hyaluronic acid serum or creamy moisturizer at night.
Skinbetter AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads
Dr. Hayag was raised in the small town of St. Marys, Georgia, just across the Florida state line. Her family still calls St. Marys home, and she still considers herself first and foremost a Southern girl.
College football is part of the package (go Seminoles!). But after graduating from medical school, Manhattan was where she put down roots. “Prior to doing your residency, you do an internship and I decided to go to New York on the recommendation of a friend,” she says. “I had never been to New York, and I wanted to go somewhere that was different from where I had lived down South.”
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Meredith Harris, lead medical aesthetician and laser specialist at the Russak + Aesthetic Center in New York, loves the versatility of this peel from Dr. Dennis Gross, which is recommended for all skin types and can be used to combat a variety of concerns. “Salicylic acid penetrates into pores, exfoliating the lining and eradicating blemishes, while retinol ramps up collagen stimulation and aids in decongesting pores,” she says. “Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant touted for its brightening and free radical-fighting capabilities.”
Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel
his treatment from Alpha-H resurfaces and reverses as you snooze. “It delivers high concentrations of glycolic acid, paired with shea butter to help minimize irritation. The retinol in the formula also encourages cell turnover and collagen production,” explains Dr. Zeichner.
Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Resurfacing Peel
Dr. Baird taps this peel from Estee Lauder, which is formulated with the brand’s highest concentration of AHAs, when she’s looking for a quick radiance boost. “It’s designed to accelerate the skin’s natural cell turnover after just one treatment, and can be used by those with sensitive skin,” she says. Apply the peel two times per week in the evening for best results.
Perfect Image Glycolic 30% Gel Peel
When it comes to anti-aging chemical exfoliants, glycolic acid is one of your best bets. “It’s the smallest acid in particle size so it is very effective at penetrating deep to weaken cellular bonds and reveal new skin cells,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “This particular peel also promotes collagen stimulation using retinol, which is very effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, lines and uneven texture.”
NeoStrata Perfecting Peel
This two-step regenerative treatment contains glycolic and citric acids for ridding skin of impurities and encouraging cell renewal. “NeoStrata is a pioneer in the world of chemical peels, and these individual peel pads allow for foolproof application,” says Jenny Liu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
The AHAs in this budget-savvy solution exfoliate the top layer of the skin for a brightening effect, while the BHA helps combat against clogged pores and acne, says Marie Hayag, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “The dropper also makes it easy to sufficiently cover targeted areas (such as the nose, cheeks and forehead), while avoiding sensitive areas (such as the nasolabial folds and around the eyes).” Given its potency, she recommends working your way up to 10 minutes (max).