Here’s How a Chemical Peel Transformed My Supersensitive Dry Winter Skin

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I’m not ready for a laser yet. I know Drew Barrymore swears by her Clear + Brilliant treatments, but I have to work my way up the resurfacing ladder slowly. My skin is super reactive, but I soldier on and call in the reinforcements from time to time. As dedicated as I am with my self-care Sunday routines, when the winter air dries my skin up and everyone turns the heaters on, things get patchy and pretty rough all around. 

You May Also Like: How to Determine Which Chemical Peel Is Right for Your Skin

When I paid a visit to Dermalogica On Montana in Santa Monica, CA, I didn’t know I was walking into my first chemical peel. I let my skin therapist, Melissa W. examine my face and neck and make the proper recommendation to get back to a glowy place. She said I didn’t need any extractions (which felt like getting an A in blackheads on the skin-care report card), but  recommended a Pro Power Peel to treat signs of aging and discoloration, which required a bit of commitment from me.

The peel is designed to be applied by a licensed professional skin therapist and is concentrated with a higher percentage of acids than any peel I could do at home, at a very low pH. As Melissa placed each layer of alpha hydroxy acids on my skin—a custom mix of lactic, glycolic, mandelic, malic…I lost count of exactly all the acids—I could feel the prickley tingles start to increase and the heat spread across my cheeks. I knew I was going to look like a tomato, but I trusted that the payoff would be worth it. 

Melissa said clients could have up to seven layers of acid placed, but I said “Uncle” at layer three. After some post-peel pampering I looked in the mirror and was not shocked to see my red, splotchy results. We’ve all seen Samantha’s Sex and the City chemically stripped face by now and know that a peeled face looks worse before it looks better. With this treatment, patience is a virtue, and Melissa explained that now that her part was done I still had to do my part and follow a new skin care routine for the following week. 

Post-Peel Protocol

Immediately After: It’s common for skin to appear red or flushed post treatment and may be more sensitive.

Shortly after my peel I spoke with Heather Hickman, Dermalogica’s Sr. Director of US Education, to ask her if she had any tips on getting past the flaky, peeling hump to get to the full reveal. Hickman said to avoid sun, exercise and steam rooms or anything that increases blood circulation to the face, which can lead to more discomfort, redness or swelling. She also stressed sticking to the post-peel plan recommended by my skin therapist. 

And just like that, my little take home kit with Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Cleanser ($39), Barrier Repair ($47) moisturizer, Calm Water Gel ($50) and SuperSensitive Shield SPF30 ($54) became my day and night companions. Slowly but surely, as little patches of dry skin began to flake away, I could see a new, fresh surface waiting underneath. 

Night One: Redness eventually subsided and my skin remained makeup-free for the first night. Adhering to the four step post-peel regimen ensured fast healing.

Baby-Fresh Skin
A week turned into two and then three. Before I ever hit week four the complements started coming in. Not only was I seeing a more even tone and complexion, my skin was so much smoother that my foundation wasn’t sitting in my lines and creases. I didn’t need to cover as much anymore, and for me that’s the ultimate payoff. The best part about the peel experience? Both the Barrier Repair and the Water Gel have become staples in my daily routine. My Winter-almost-Spring skin is not as thirsty anymore, but getting that extra-gentle hydration on the daily has been a total sensitive skin game changer.

One Month Later: Only tinted moisturizer is needed for coverage and my skin appears smooth, bright and glowy one month after the Pro Power Peel.

Final verdict: peel on friends, peel on!

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