Linda Kossoff, executive editor, DAYSPA

When Ronda Nofal, owner of the spectacularly successful Blue Medi Spa in Sherman Oaks, California, invited me to experience one of her spa’s popular chemical peels, my curiosity was piqued. I’d been receiving regular, conventional facials for years and was pretty happy with the results. I like the just-tingly-enough-to-know-it’s-doing-something enzyme peels that I receive every couple of months, not to mention the generous neck and shoulder massages that go with them. But the idea of upping the ante with a medical-grade chemical peel made me wonder whether I’d been underestimating my face’s potential. What if, beneath this decidedly flawed middle-aged dermis, was the pristine complexion of a skincare model? Or, more realistically, what if that giant pore peeking out from the side of my nose didn’t have to be quite so enormous? Either way, I was onboard.

In anticipation of my appointment, I did a little research about chemical peels. The one I was scheduled to receive is considered mild by medical spa standards, but there were still some contraindications. I knew to avoid strong exfoliating agents and any waxing services prior to my treatment. I’d read some of the inevitable stories about burns and scars associated with chemical peels and, despite Blue Spa’s stellar reputation, I began to wonder whether I shouldn’t opt for something less dramatic. Eventually, however, my enlarged pores prevailed over my cold feet, and I went in for my appointment.

I was to receive the VitaLize Peel (30 min./$175). First I was given a handout that explained the nature of the treatment, and what to expect for several days afterward. One of Blue’s medical aestheticians, Stacey, reviewed the procedure with me and then invited me to lie down on the treatment table. Much to my surprise, she handed me an electric fan—not the mini-variety that menopausal ladies tote around in their purses for the unexpected hot flash, but the cumbersome kind you place on a desktop when the A/C in the office breaks down. I was to rest the fan on my tummy, with the whirring air trained on my face. Wow—was this really necessary? I thought. How hot could this get? Despite thoughts of spewing fire extinguishers and shouts of “Aim for the nose!” I quietly complied.

Stacey gently positioned my eye pads, turned on her work light and got busy. I felt the cool rush of saturated gauze pads sweeping over my face, and steeled myself for the worst. When the worst didn’t happen, I realized that she’d just been prepping my skin (with a combination of alcohol and acetone). “OK, now here it comes,” she said cheerfully, and proceeded to swath my forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, jaw and neck with the actual peeling solution, a healthy combination of lactic and salicylic acids among some other, supporting ingredients. It took mere seconds for me to feel a hot burn spread across my face—nothing I couldn’t handle but certainly nothing I could ignore, either. I waited for the blissful moment when Stacey would remove the solution, but she explained to me that the solution is not removed at all—apparently the results are better if you just let it settle down on its own. For the next 20 minutes or so, I did just that.

After the burning sensation subsided, I was sent home with a quality, hydrating spray product, which I was told I could start using when the peeling began in about 48 hours. This was a Friday.

I spent the weekend with a rather pink, rather tight-feeling face. My husband said I looked “healthy.” Then on Sunday night, my nose and chin began to peel. And for each day of the following week, I seemed to portray a different species of reptile as the peeling shifted in position and volume. It was astonishing how much skin was available for the shedding. And, as I noticed by around Thursday, how absolutely lovely the skin underneath looked… pores smaller, tone evener and complexion brighter. My family, friends and co-workers noticed too (and as beauty editors, my co-workers are not so easy to impress!).

A couple of weeks later, Blue asked me back for a follow-up oxygen facial to hydrate and soothe my new skin. Truth be told, the peel did dry me out quite a bit, so this was a most welcome invitation.

It has now been about six weeks since my chemical peel, and my skin still looks great. I’ve stashed what used to be my daily foundation in a drawer, to be used for special occasions only. Because these days, all I need are my skincare products topped off with a good SPF, some eyeliner and lip gloss, and I’m good to go. I haven’t given up my bi-monthly conventional facials, which I absolutely believe in, but I think I’m now enjoying a little something extra on the side.

Same time next year, chemical peel!

—Linda Kossoff

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