I Was Terrified to Try an In-Office Facial Peel so I Did This Instead

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As often as I’ve heard about the benefits of facial peels (reduced hyperpigmentation, softened wrinkles, clean pores and even skin tone, just to name a few), the vision of Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones lifting her black veil, revealing raw, red, "beef carpaccio" skin still haunts me. IRL Samantha would have known that getting any type of peel anywhere near the date of an important event is never a good idea, but even without a soirée I'd want to look my best for, I couldn't imagine a time I'd think that was worth it.



Fast-forward 14 years later and not only have I learned that there are a variety of peels for any desired results, but I work in an industry with women who have brilliant complexions and love these treatments. It was time to conquer my facial-peel fears.

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I decided to start slow and set out on a mission to find a gentle, at-home formula that wouldn’t irritate my sensitive skin or involve any downtime. Within minutes of asking around the office, a NewBeauty editor (one of the aforementioned brilliant complexions) promised me Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peels ($16-148) would turn me into a believer in the power of peels.


That night I tore open a packet of Step One (a powerful, yet gentle, exfoliator) and applied the formula in circular motions, waiting for the imagined burning and stinging to kick in. The seconds ticked by and I felt... nothing more than a tiny tingle! (I’ve had worse reactions to certain moisturizers.) Two minutes later I repeated the technique for Step Two (the alphahydroxy acid), and followed with my usual nighttime moisturizer. My face felt simply clean, refreshed and hydrated. 

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The next morning I looked in the mirror to see if I really saw any difference in my skin. (I’ve been disappointed in enough skin care products to have a healthy suspicion.) After one use, my skin did look brighter and more even than it had the day before, but not enough to sell me. I kept at it the rest of that week, three times total (all at night), and, while the results weren't drastic by any means, each morning I woke up to a little more radiant, less-red face. 

It's been a few weeks since my first treatment and my former fears seem like a distant, silly memory. I still haven't built up the courage to try an in-office version, but I have a feeling this time around I won't wait another 14 years to try. 

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