Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel Delivers Baby-Soft Skin in Minutes

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Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Exfoliating Peeling Gel

peeling gel

Courtesy of Peter Thomas Roth

What We Like
  • Gently exfoliates skin in two ways

  • Provides an instant glow

  • Smooths out texture and tone

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

  • High price point for a scrub

Peter Thomas Roth’s FirmX Peeling Gel left my skin luminous and smooth in no time, which is all I can ask for from an exfoliant. Aside from the mishap that occurred when I accidentally got some product on my perioral dermatitis, I found it to be a real gem.


Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Exfoliating Peeling Gel

peeling gel

Courtesy of Peter Thomas Roth

We put Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Let me start by saying I have gone on record as not the biggest fan of physical exfoliants. It’s not that I think they are a bad category of skincare per se, just that I’ve seen the ways in which they can do more harm than good. Without meaning to, people go too hard with them or use them too often, which contributes to their reputation as damaging to the skin barrier.

My skin responds best to weekly use of an AHA and BHA serum. That’s all it needs to stay clear and smooth. But every now and then, I crave a good scrub. Blame it on my teen fixation with the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, but I enjoy the instant, even glow that comes with (gently) sloughing away dead skin. That said, I won’t use anything that feels even remotely scratchy or contains irregularly shaped particles like crushed-up shells. Thankfully, Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel centers its formula around cellulose, which I've found to be as gentle as can be. So how did it perform? Keep reading to find out.

Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel

Best for: Combination, dry, normal, and oily skin types.

Uses: An exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin cells and promises to smooth the appearance of skin overall.

Potential allergens: Bergamot

Active ingredients: Pineapple, pomegranate and keratinase enzymes, cellulose, hyaluronic acid.

Byrdie Clean? No; contains PEG-32.

Price: $48

About the brand: The Peter Thomas Roth brand was born from the eponymous founder’s personal search for an effective treatment or cure for acne. All products are geared around powerful ingredients that still respect the skin, with a major focus on results.

About My Skin: Mostly balanced, with a bit of perioral dermatitis

I’m currently dealing with a mild case of perioral dermatitis (thank you, pregnancy hormones), but other than that my face is pretty tolerant of most skincare products. I’m trying to keep things more gentle than usual to prevent rash flare-ups, but I haven’t said goodbye to acids or chemical exfoliants completely. The advice I got from my facialist was just to keep anything active away from the irritated areas, so that’s what I’m doing.

The Ingredients: The best of both worlds

What sets Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel apart from other physical exfoliants is the inclusion of enzymes, specifically pineapple, pomegranate, and keratinase. That means you get the instant smoothness of a scrub paired with a deeper cleanse meant to help clear out clogged pores. The multi-tasking gel claims to roll away dead skin when massaged in, but I’ve never really noticed this effect, perhaps because I also regularly use an exfoliating serum.

The Feel: Grainy, in the best way

Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel Texture

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

The texture of Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel is satisfyingly gritty. I could feel the high concentration of cellulose particles between my fingers as I applied it, which made me very happy since I had been specifically looking for a good product that has that scrubbing quality. I tend to think that the more particles are suspended in a scrub, the better it works. I do less scrubbing when this is the case, which prevents me from overdoing it.

The Results: Radiance for days

Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel Results on Lisa Patulny

Lisa Patulny/Design by Cristina Cianci

The Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel transforms skin into a smoother, more glowing version of itself immediately. That’s important to note because this is the type of product you might buy if you're looking for instant gratification. Even better, the glow lasted for days. It was pleasant to use and had a slight tingle to it (which I love), but I did make the mistake of accidentally getting a little on my patches of perioral dermatitis—you can see the reaction in my after photo. I obviously didn’t mean to apply it around my nose, but it does lead me to say that you should keep this product away from broken skin.

If you have sensitive skin, you might still be okay to use it. Interestingly, gentler enzymatic exfoliants can be just as effective as AHAs. They also dissolve the "glue" that bonds dead skin to your face, but with less potential for over-exfoliation. The brand doesn’t recommend it for sensitive types, but it does have many glowing reviews online from fans who gave it a try anyway.

The Value: Pricey but worth it

There aren’t too many physical-meets-enzymatic scrubs like this one out there, so it’s not easy to compare it against competitor products price-wise. You’re getting a multi-functional product for your money (read: more bang for your buck), so I think the cost is justified, though there are definitely more affordable scrubs out there if you are looking for a lower price point. The Peter Thomas Roth brand advises using the FirmX Peeling Gel from one to three times a week, which I think is worth taking into account because if you use it three times a week, the tube won’t last as long as if you're using it less often.

Similar Products: You've got options

Wishful Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub: Even more multi-tasking than Peter Thomas Roth's, this Wishful scrub ($39) is a physical, enzymatic, and chemical exfoliant. It contains AHAs for extra brightening power and BHAs to help keep clogged pores clear.

Sand & Sky Australian Emu Apple Enzyme Powder Polish: A powder-to-foam formula, this enzymatic scrub from Sand & Sky ($45) works best when mixed with water or into a cleanser. It dissolves quickly, making it gentle on skin—there’s little risk of overdoing it.

Final Verdict

Do you like the idea of having super-smooth skin that glows like nobody’s business? If so, I recommend you give Peter Thomas Roth's FirmX Peeling Gel a go. If you’ve only ever used a regular physical exfoliant, I suspect it will blow your mind.


  • Product Name FirmX Exfoliating Peeling Gel
  • Product Brand Peter Thomas Roth
  • Price $48.00
  • Weight 3.4 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water/Aqua/Eau, Peg-32, Cellulose, Butylene Glycol, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Water, Sorbitol, R-Bacillus Licheniformis Keratinase, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Algin, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Isopropyl Myristate, Sodium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Mica, Phenoxyethanol.
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Smith WP, Bishop M, Gillis G, Maibach H. Topical proteolytic enzymes affect epidermal and dermal properties. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007;29(1):15-21.

  2. Mekas M, Chwalek J, MacGregor J, Chapas A. An evaluation of efficacy and tolerability of novel enzyme exfoliation versus glycolic acid in photodamage treatmentJ Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(11):1306-1319.

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