Peels 101: A Common Chemical Exfoliation

Tools & Treatments

Peels 101: A Common Chemical Exfoliation

By Alexandra Adevai Serron

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Peels, Explained

A peel is a form of exfoliation by chemical means (as opposed to a physical scrub). At the highest level, this chemical reaction dissolves the ‘glue’ that holds our dead skin cells together, stimulating cell turnover to reveal smoother, more radiant skin underneath.

Depending on the star ingredient of the peel, it can be helpful for focusing on specific skin concerns like breakouts or hyperpigmentation.

Think of a peel as a weekly at-home reset for your skin, or a monthly professional-strength reset during a facial.

The Different Types of Peels

Peels come in many different forms. The major differences come down to (1) the primary exfoliating ingredient and (2) its concentration and pH level.

Some peels contain AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) like lactic acid, which are water-soluble acids that resurface the skin to reveal a brighter complexion. This type of peel is ideal for sun-damaged, hyperpigmented skin. Peels that contain oil-soluble BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) like salicylic acid fight excess oil. This type is a perfect choice for anyone concerned with breakouts and blackheads. Last but not least, fruit enzymes like papain (from pineapple) and bromelain (from papaya) are the gentlest option, perfect for anyone new to chemical exfoliants.

Our skin cells turnover every 30 days or so – and that time grows longer as we age. Because peels encourage that process along, they help renew our skin and target concerns that otherwise are left up to time.

Choosing the Right Peel
If You’re New To Chemical Exfoliation

This hybrid physical/chemical exfoliant comes with a true scrub texture, but without the risk of damaging your skin. Pineapple enzymes digest dead skin cells, while peppermint detoxes for an invigorating sensory experience that leaves behind smoother, more refreshed skin.

Pineapple & Peppermint Facial Exfoliant


Pineapple & Peppermint Facial Exfoliant

This gentle, yet invigorating exfoliant leaves skin smooth and refreshed.


If You’re Looking For An All Star Combo

A safe-for-home chemical exfoliant peel that uses both AHAs and BHAs to give dead skin cells a targeted kick to clear congestion and even out skin tone. Plus, it smells like heaven.

0.33 oz


Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel

Unclog pores and brighten skin tone with this Skin Therapist favorite.


If Easy & Effective Is Your Goal

These pads not only contain 10% glycolic acid but are slightly textured for light physical exfoliation to amplify the results of the chemical exfoliant. Just a few swipes across the skin, wait a few, and rinse.

Micro Peel Pads

Dr. Loretta

Micro Peel Pads

A glycolic acid face peel that brightens, evens, and hydrates skin.


If You Have Sensitive Skin

Allow us to introduce you to one of the gentlest, but most effective masks we've seen. Packed with a delicious blend of fruit enzymes and vitamin C, the skin drinks this mask up.

Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque

Image Skincare

Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque

Packed with a delicious blend of fruit enzymes and vitamin C, skin drinks this mask up like a smoothie.


Post-Peel Care

Most at-home peels let you jump right back into action with little down time, though you should avoid them when your skin is sensitized or sunburned.

We recommend always using an at-home peel in the evening, and following it with a gentle, hydrating moisturizer. Avoid any active serums directly after. The next day, avoid makeup (if you can) to let your skin breathe. Sunscreen is a must everyday, but especially after any chemical exfoliation.

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