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Chemical peels are an amazing secret weapon to battle a myriad of skin issues. They help you brighten a dull complexion, slough off dead skin cells, and provide an overall glow in a matter of minutes.
While extremely effective, professional chemical peels conducted in a spa by an esthetician or a medical professional can be costly. We get that these luxuries may not fit in your budget. Luckily, many brands offer an affordable way to get similar spa results at home for less than the price of one professional peel. Or, you can also choose to complement your spa service or medical treatment plan with one of these at-home peels.
Before you go playing spa-day at home, it's important you do your research to make sure you aren't doing more harm than good to your precious skin. Many of these kinds of products contain high concentrations of acid to chemically exfoliate your skin, so you need to be educated on what you're using.
To demystify chemical peels, we chatted with celebrity dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman and celebrity esthetician Shani Darden to get their take on these popular treatments. "A chemical peel will exfoliate the skin to reveal brighter, smoother skin," Darden says. "It’s important to remove the layer of dead skin on the surface so that your products can absorb more deeply."
Both Darden and Engelman agree that it is possible to achieve this kind of much-needed exfoliation with at-home peels, although they likely won't be as potent or fast-acting as an in-office peel procedure.
"At-home peels target the very top layers of the skin, exfoliating dead cells and exposing healthier cells," Engelman says. "In-office procedures are used with stronger concentrations and penetrate deeper into the skin, revealing greater results in comparison to an at-home peel. That said, you can achieve effective exfoliation, but usage of products would be more frequent than an in-office treatment."
Read on as we share what else we learned from this duo of experts, along with our editor-tested picks of the best at-home chemical peel products.
This wonder-treatment from Drunk Elephant, adored by both editors and consumers alike, is packed with an impressive 25% alpha-hydroxy acid and 2% beta-hydroxy formula that works to resurface your skin.
"Alpha-hydroxy acids (like lactic acid and glycolic acid) are used for dry skin and to anti-age," Engelman says. "Beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic are best for acne-related issues such as large pores, blackheads and pimples."
This one blends both, and it's one of the best chemical peels you can get your hands on for home use. Just glide on this smooth gel for about 20 minutes, rinse away, and enjoy your freshly exfoliated skin.
Best Budget Buy
Olay offers an affordable option for an at-home chemical peel. This one also comes with a microdermabrasion component to slough off even more skin than you typically would by using the peel alone. If you want a double-dose of exfoliation for a low price, this is the at-home peel system for you!
This water-activated exfoliator by Korean skincare favorite AMOREPACIFIC was designed to dissolve dead surface skin cells without harsh abrasiveness. It gently and effectively provides a brighter complexion with continued use, and we can affirm it's worth every penny.
"I love the Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads," Darden says. "They’re filled with AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate the surface and remove congestion in the pores. I recommend using these one to two times a week, depending on your skin and the other products you’re using."
We agree and recommend using these if you need to brighten your complexion. They're foolproof and effective, making them a staple in our bathroom cabinets.
The Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Solutions Toner comes highly recommended by Engelman. "This toner has 8% concentration of glycolic acid and combines witch hazel to soothe and exfoliate," she says.
We love that it's multipurpose and won't strip your skin during the exfoliating process like similar acidic products can!
Another highly coveted option for those who prefer their chemical peels in pad form, Bliss' Incredi-Peel packs a serious punch. These pads allow you to take the Bliss Spa home with you, as each one gradually releases glycolic acid overnight to target fine lines and imperfections for smoother, brighter skin by morning.
This two-step, at-home chemical peel by Philosophy resurfaces and rejuvenates aging skin. Unlike most other peels out there, this one also delivers peptides and vitamin C to the skin as it's being rapidly exfoliated. We love that it resurfaces and replenishes the skin at the same time!
We're big fans of basically anything by Ole Henriksen, so it's no surprise that this lemon facial peel gives our skin serious life. With high-level alpha hydroxy acids (including glycolic and lactic), along with lemon extract, this powerful at-home chemical peel lifts away dead skin cells to deliver visible results in just one use.
Murad's answer to an at-home chemical peel features a powerful blend of 10% glycolic acid. Combined with potent vitamin C, these textured towelettes create a targeted application of the active ingredients to remove grime and surface cells. If you don't want to take our word for it, check out its five-star rating and nearly 7,000 "hearts" on Sephora!
With 50% lactic acid, this is one of the highest concentrations you can purchase to use at home. This potent alpha-hydroxy acid is perfect for damaged, aging skin. It also works to diffuse the appearance of age spots, freckles, and other discolorations.