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What’s the deal with peels? Our experts weigh in.

It’s basically a rule of life that everyone takes issue with his or her own skin. Maybe you never parted ways with your teenage acne, or perhaps your T-zone glistens like an oil slick. It could be your blackheads refuse to pause their 24/7 game of peekaboo. Whatever your concern, it’s nothing a face peel can’t fix. Resident Sephora experts Kim Holt, Director of Merchandising—Skincare, and Electra Kinney, Associate Merchant—Skincare, peel back the differences on some select products. BECKY PEDERSON

If you’re new to the game, you want a beginner peel gentle enough to use daily. “They generally use plant enzymes or lower concentrations of acids,” says Holt. “As your skin builds up tolerance, you can step up to a higher strength of acid.”

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads: This is a good place to start—all you do is swipe a single, pre-soaked pad across your face and you’re done. The inclusion of cucumber makes it gentle enough for those with sensitive skin.

AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel: This looks a bit like a foaming cleanser…but it’s not! It uses papaya enzymes to dissolve dead skin cells, similar to a traditional peel.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: This two-step system helps visually reduce your pore size and even your skin tone. Apply the two medicated pads in a similar fashion to the First Aid Beauty pad above. Easy-peasy.

How do you know if you’re ready to graduate from beginner to regular peels? Kinney says, “It depends on how sensitive your skin is.” Holt concurs, “It’s a personal call. As you get more comfortable with the application and the tingle—most products give a little tingle to let you know they’re working—you can step it up.”

Philosophy Resurface: This exfoliates, but it also delivers vitamin C and peptides that brighten and come packed with antiaging benefits. For this two-step process, you first do a light scrub and then apply the peel, so you’ve got both a physical and a chemical exfoliation working for you.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula: It uses the same two-step pad routine as the original, but it has a higher concentration of alpha beta acids for boosted results. Expert tip: Holt says that while you only need to peel one or two times a week, the Dr. Gross pads can be used daily.

For the seasoned self-facialists of the bunch, below are some of the most intense peels you can get without visiting your dermatologist. If you doubt your skin will ever be ready for these, Kinney says, “Don’t be afraid! Many clients believe—incorrectly—that a peel leaves you with dry, flaking skin that requires hibernation for days. It’s not true! Even our pro-peels don’t need downtime and leave skin glowing, not red.”

Ole Henriksen Power Peel: Ole Henriksen is famous for his commitment to deliver a red carpet glow. Indeed, this peel comes as a three-piece set designed to feel like you’re pampering yourself at a Hollywood salon.

Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel: This uses vitamin C as a primary ingredient and works to fade the look of dark spots, smooth rough skin, and hydrate in one simple step.

Peter Thomas Roth 40% Triple Acid Peel: A powerful acid trifecta of AHA, BHA, and TCA that addresses signs of aging, this one-step system comes in travel-friendly ampules. (Hey, you never know when you’ll want to peel on the go!)


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