Once upon a time, not so long ago, facial peels were associated with lobster-red skin and unsightly flaking, well, peeling – remember the episode of sex and the city where Samantha gets a chemical peel? But the truth is that facial peels are nothing to fear. Yes, there are in-office options that can be pretty intense, but there’s also a whole host of at-home facial peels that can quickly and effectively leave your skin looking smoother, more even, and beautifully radiant, without any annoying irritation. Even better: today there are formulas adapted to each complexion problem and each type of skin, even sensitive. The point being, just about anyone and everyone can reap the benefits of a facial peel. Here, 11 of our favorites.
Renee Triple Berry Smoothing Peel Roller
This aptly named pick is actually based on a combination of different berries, all loaded with antioxidants that help brighten the skin. When it comes to skin, it boasts alpha and beta hydroxy acids, as well as fruit enzymes, which gently but effectively break down dead skin cells that can leave your complexion dull and dull. The end result is a formula that unclogs pores, smooths uneven texture, fades dark marks, and generally leaves your skin feeling softer and more radiant, even after just one use. (And it’s safe for all skin types, too.) But the best part, in our opinion? It smells and looks exactly like raspberry jam, which makes the application experience really enjoyable.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Texture Renewal Peel
This formula and the delivery system – all you have to do is slip one of the single-use peel-off pads over your skin – are the big winners. Although the idea of a retinol-containing peel might sound like a recipe for irritation, even our sensitive skin can tolerate this formula. Credit the fact that retinol is paired with soothing bakuchiol and hydrating squalane and hyaluronic acid; meanwhile, ferulic acid provides a boost of antioxidant protection. Used two to three times a week, this peel is ideal for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and prominent pores, as well as for combating dark spots and rough or bumpy skin texture.
Bliss Jelly Glow Peel
This fun-to-use formula boasts pineapple and papaya enzymes for gentle chemical exfoliation, breaking down dead skin cells. It also contains cellulose fibers, which basically act like a lint roller for your skin, attaching to those dead skin cells. Apply this peel then gently massage it into your skin in a circular motion and it will puff up, grabbing all those dead skin cells with it. And the hydrating jelly-like base, packed with niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate, ensures it never over-drys.
Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial
A mask-peel hybrid, there’s a good reason this product has a cult following. A combination of three different alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic, tartaric, and lactic) brightens and smoothes skin, while salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) helps dissolve pore-clogging oil. It sounds intense, but keep in mind it’s specially formulated at 3.5 pH to help minimize redness and sensitivity.
Versed The Shortcut Overnight Facial Scrub
Swap your standard night cream for this peel one to three times a week. Lactic and glycolic acids work synergistically to support exfoliating functions, while a long list of skin-soothing ingredients (Allantoin, Rosehip and Vitamin E) ward off unwanted irritation and redness. Best of all, it absorbs into your skin just like lotion would, so there’s no need to worry about it clogging up your pillowcase. Simply wash it off in the morning and prepare to be amazed at how your skin looks and feels. Besides, can we talk about the price?!
First Aid Beauty Radial Face Pads
This brand is well known for making safe and effective products for even the most sensitive skin, and these exfoliating pads are no exception. A perfect option for extremely sensitive skin and/or those looking for a milder type of peel, they can be used daily or even twice a day. Yet, thanks to a blend of glycolic and lactic acids, they are effective enough to brighten and smooth the skin. Tip: Try using them on your back and chest as well.
BeautyStat Cosmetics Triple Action Universal Daily Peel
When a cosmetic chemist creates a skincare line, you know it’s going to be full of goodness. Example: this newbie. The one-step exfoliating pad is loaded with exfoliating alpha and beta hydroxy acids, plus ingredients that help firm skin and reduce wrinkles, such as glucosamine and niacinamide. If your skin is very sensitive, start by using them every other day, gradually progressing to daily use as your skin acclimates. Also nice: the pads themselves are biodegradable.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Exfoliating Solution
A long list of acids – glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, salicylic – makes this peel extremely powerful in combating uneven texture, clogged pores and dullness. It sure is intense, so be sure to follow directions, which is to apply it to dry skin and don’t leave it on for more than 10 minutes before washing it off. Still, if you’re looking for powerful treatment at an incredibly affordable price, this can’t be beat.
Algenist Blue Algae Anti-Spot Vitamin C & Vitamin C Peel
If dark spots and hyperpigmentation are your main complexion problem, give this choice a try. L-ascorbic acid (aka the purest and most potent version of vitamin C), derived from blue algae, works to effectively fade discoloration. A patented triple acid complex – a blend of alpha, beta, and poly-hydroxy acids – helps boost evening tone even further, and there are also tons of antioxidants in the mix to help prevent future stains. The pretty blue color is just an added bonus.
Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
It contains phytic acid and quinoa husk extract for a gentle yet effective combo of chemical and physical exfoliation; it is so gentle that it can be used at night, whatever your skin type. Layer it under a serum or moisturizer and let it do its thing, evening out texture and tone with each continued use. We also like that it is both paraben and fragrance free.
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Peel Pads
Get these peelable pads the next time you go to the pharmacy. The star of the show is glycolic acid, which, as mentioned, is an ideal alpha hydroxy acid for revealing smoother, more radiant skin. But the ingredient also does double duty, helping to stimulate collagen production to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Multitask for victory. Not to mention, they’re gentle enough to use at night, and super easy to incorporate into your post-cleanse, pre-moisturize routine.