Do you miss your derm? Me too. Not just for the life-saving skin checks dermatologists provide, but for the instant glow of their in-office products and treatments that can be tough to capture at home in my bathroom. One of the most popular of these transformative treatments: the chemical peel. Chemical peels vary in strength and ingredients, but most aim to deeply exfoliate the skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve brightness, and lift away unwanted discoloration and brown spots. There's a reason these game-changers are only available from the pros. "In-office peels have stronger concentrations of acids, meaning greater immediate results," says NYC-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman. "These need to be administered by a licensed practitioner, because of the potential to burn or irritate the skin," she says.
That said, there are at-home peels that capture the same effects on a smaller, safer scale. These formulas have lower concentrations of the same acids, making them ideal for slathering them on yourself. But it's important not to overdo it: "The biggest challenge is to not overwork the skin. Excessive exfoliation will expose skin, weaken skin-barrier function and trigger inflammation," says Engelman. If the barrier function is damaged, skin becomes vulnerable to infection from microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungus, and leads to sensitivity and irritation."
When choosing a DIY peel, it's smart to consider your skin type, Engelman suggests. "Look at the acids in the peel, and make sure they target the issue you are trying to remedy." We've pulled together a list of the absolute best at-home peels and the skin they're best suited for.
Supercharged with five different AHAs to target signs of aging on the surface and at deeper levels of the skin, this is strong enough to visibly brighten skin without irritating it. According to Dr. Engelman, AHAs like glycolic acid are ideal for anti-aging: "It's the smallest acid in particle size, meaning it is the most effective in breaking down cellular bonds to reveal new cells."
This formula is powered by 10 percent AHAs and a gift basket's worth of pumpkin, papaya, and pineapple fruit enzymes. To keep things on the gentle side, honey and tea extract join the party to quell irritation.
This power couple affordable and super effective: dissolve dead skin cells with the resurfacing mask, then apply the activator on top to create a crystal-filled foam to buff away dull skin.
Engelmen says a peel that contains BHAs, like this 10-minute berry-hued option, is ideal for treating acne. "BHAs, like salicylic and beta hydroxy, are best for issues like large pores, blackheads and pimples. These acids have keratin-dissolving properties that can breakdown dead skin cell build-up and decongest pores."
Sometimes, a total complexion overhaul feels necessary. Glo's liquid exfoliator contains a brightening complex including mandelic, lactic, gluconic malic, and tartaric acid to target concerns like acne, dullness, and fine lines.
It might smell like an orchard, but don't underestimate this alpha and beta hydroxy acid formula. It'll help lift dark spots and discoloration cultivated from years of sun damage.
While this potent liquid would be well suited for stubborn lines, twenty-somethings can still achieve radiance and a healthy glow from its lactic and glycolic acids.
This pretty blue jar has more pumpkin enzymes than a Halloween gourd, and functions as a retinol-substitute if your'e looking for a more natural exfoliation. And added lactic acid helps to clear congested pores for a smoother visage.
Salicylic and glycolic targets acne breakouts in one measly minute, and it's got calming effects built right in. Chamomile works to stifle the standard redness most peels bring on.
Caviar lime is naturally rich in AHAs, and when combined with retinol, makes for an ultra-brightening treatment that gives an airbrushed look to pores.
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