What if I told you there was a magical, glow-boosting product sitting just one click away? And not a pricey, only-Mariah-Carey-can-afford-it type product, but a sitting-in-your-local-Boots-type buy? It basically gives you that summer glow all year round. I know. You want it, right? Thing is, it’s been right there all along; it’s just not raved about enough. But that’s all about to change.
I have always had troublesome (let’s call a spade, a spade: acne-prone) skin. I’ve tried a lot of products, but the one type of product has made the most difference has to be facial peels. Not the scary kind, the one that Samantha from Sex and the City put on the map, but the gentle at-home facial peels you can use a couple of times a week, or in some cases daily (they are the best type because I am addicted) that leave your skin glowing.
A common problem for women with blemish-prone skin or those prone to blocked pores is that our skin cells don't renew fast enough. Sadly, as we age this rate just gets slower and slower, leaving all of us with dull-looking complexions. You know when you peer into the mirror and just look tired? Oftentimes it’s the dead skin buildup that’s to blame. While these peels can’t turn back time (they won’t speed up cell turnover) or gain you any lost sleep, they will slough away the dead skin cells, pollution and any leftover grime collecting on the surface that’s dulling your complexion. They help fake that lost sleep, leaving you looking refreshed. The gentle exfoliating action softens the look of fine lines, too.
You’ll find at-home peels come in various formats, my favourites are the liquids, like a toner, which you use to soak a cotton pad with. A quick swipe and you’re left with younger, brighter-looking skin. Otherwise you can buy pots of pre-soaked or individually wrapped pads for travel, which can work out to be pricier but are more convenient. Plus, you avoid the worry of Do I have enough cotton pads? (Not the biggest concern in life, granted). You can buy peel masks, but these are not as quick to use, and time is of the essence, always. If you fancy a peel mask, Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel (£32) is a cult classic and works in 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise an overnight peel is a good low-effort option, as it does the job while you sleep. If that sounds right up your street, then I would highly recommend Kiehl's Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate (£41).
I know what you’re thinking, so how do they differ from a scrub? Peels tend to use some type of acid (sounds scary, but it’s not) often derived from fruits to dissolve and lift away dead skin, while a mechanical scrub (one with beads) physically lifts them away. I find with a peel you get a more consistent, all-over exfoliating effect, plus some scrubs can feel quite scratchy and leave some complexions prone to redness looking a tad pink.
I’m never without a variety of peels in my bathroom cabinet, by my bed, in my travel wash bag (I need to be near them at all times, #addicted*). The thing is with consistent use, over time, skin is left with a permanent glow. You see, plenty have ingredients that zero in on pigmentation, soothe redness and just generally make you appear as if you’ve had a facial, every single day. Also, by clearing the way with a peel, any skincare product you apply after should penetrate more efficiently.
You may never have thought to try an at-home peel before, wondered how they differ from toner (you can find out about toners here) or thought you don’t really need an extra step in your routine, but being five seconds from brighter, more glowing skin is not a step in the beauty routine, in my opinion, worth missing. Keep scrolling for a roundup of my five best at-home facial peels.
One of my favourite peels, this resurfacer contains a cocktail of fruit acids to nibble away at dull, tired skin. It also boasts peptides, to soften lines, and copper to regulate sebum production. My skin always looks more refined (think fewer visible pores, wrinkles and redness), and just much glowier than usual. I've worked my way through three bottles to date.
Vichy's Idealia Peeling in the new kid on the skincare block, having only launched in the last week. Having said that I'm hooked. It's gentle enough to use every single night, which is what I have been doing, and my skin is looking all the better for it (well, the best it has ever looked at the start of February). While you sleep, the antioxidant-rich concentrate (with fermented tea and blueberry polyphenol) gets to work so you wake up with skin that looks refreshed and energised, no matter how good your sleep was.
I love these peel pads, they are super handy to pop in your gym bag or keep on your bedside table. They contain 20% glycolic acid, which works fast to minimise pores, prevent breakouts, and soften the look of fine lines. New to peels? You may experience a little tingling, but it's quite satisfying. The pads are enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera to soothe the complexion.
Another night peel, these individually wrapped pads are ideal for travel. They're pricey, yes, but the winning combination of ferulic acid and retinol (the gold standard anti-ageing ingredient) means you'll see results worth paying for: fewer lines, a clarity to the skin and a healthy glow. Also, you only need to use the pads two to three times per week, so the box could last you over two months.
The alpha hydroxy acid comes in the bottle, and the pads in the pot are dry until you douse them in the liquid. This means that the pads are as potent as possible, expect some mild tingling (but, hey, then you know it's working). The formula is shot through with Aminofil, an ingredient proven to gently plump the skin over time, making this the perfect choice if fine lines are your real bug bear.
*Disclaimer: I’m addicted, yes but I always follow the instructions. Too much of a good thing, and all that.