Interested in trying out an at-home chemical peel but not sure where to start? Follow a guide – smooth, clear, and glowing skin awaits.
A chemical peel is a procedure that refines the skin’s surface by removing the top layers of dead skin cells, leaving behind a smooth surface and, ideally, a glass skin-like finish.
While typically performed at a facial spa, there are less intense versions of a chemical peel that you do at home. Here, we break down the differences between the two experiences and some of our favorite at-home chemical peels on the market.
At-Home Chemical Peels vs. a Professional Chemical Peel
The main difference is the potency of formula. Ultimately, an at-home peel’s job is to remove the outermost layer of dead skin cells that dulls the skin’s complexion. They can also help improve several skin concerns, such as acne, the appearance of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and clogged pores. Professional chemical peels can contain a high concentration of a single acid or blended acids and penetrate deeper in the skin.
Just because at-home chemical peels are gentler doesn’t mean they can’t cause irritation. This is why it’s important to do a patch test first, preferably on your wrist or arm.
When to Use Them
Ideally, at-home peels should be applied at night, the time of day when the skin enters its restoration phase, after your cleanser. Nighttime is the most optimal since the skin is not being interrupted by pollutants and debris from outside, giving the skin an opportunity to recuperate and rejuvenate from the chemicals.
Depending on your skin and the formula, use an at-home peel either once a week or as a monthly or bi-monthly treatment.
After removing the peel from your face, always make sure to follow up with a moisturizer and SPF in the morning. Moisturizer is crucial to post-peel care since chemical exfoliants can be drying and can damage the skin barrier. As always, SPF is a must because the skin is quite sensitive to the sun’s rays after a peel.
It’s also important to steer clear of certain ingredients for at least 24 hours, such as other forms of exfoliation, vitamin C, and retinoids.
What At-Home Peels to Try
If you have oily skin, the Herbivore Prism 20% AHA + 5% BHA Exfoliating Glow Facial is a powerful, yet soothing peel that will exfoliate the skin by using a combination of lactic, tartaric, and malic acids. Meanwhile, the willow bark extract BHA 5% works to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. This soft, jelly peel only needs to sit on your skin for ten minutes to get that highly desired post-peel glow.
If you have combination skin, try the Meg Two Step Jelly Mask. The first step in this two-step process is to use the 9% lactic acid-saturated cotton swab (lactic acid is great because it helps skin retain moisture) over the face that exfoliates and preps the skin for the jelly mask (step two). The mask is soaked with an essence treatment to reduce the appearance of acne scars.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, the Benton PHA Peeling Gel is a great, effective option. This peel’s formula contains PHAs, which are less potent than AHAs. Though this peel is more gentle than others, it manages to clear away dead skin cells, excess sebum, and gives the skin a smooth texture. Better yet, this peel also maintains the skin’s moisture by using hyaluronic acid, ceramide, and chrysanthemum morifolium flower extract.
If you have normal skin, the Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade Resurfacing Liquid contains a high concentration of glycolic and lactic acids to improve the skin’s brightness while combating the appearance of wrinkles. Its high acid concentration of acids may not be for everyone, so make sure to perform a patch test before use.