Which peels do you find most effective?
Julia Betzen, licensed esthetician and owner of Apeeling Skin in Parker, Colorado: My go-to in the treatment room is a salicylic acid peel, as it’s predictable, self-neutralizing and suitable for all skin types. It’s fantastic for clients with acne, and it’s a brightening and pro-youth option for guests who want to address sun damage and fine lines. A trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel is a nice step up for those with thicker skin who are dealing with textural issues, such as deeper lines and more moderate to severe sun damage.
Savannah Willett, licensed esthetician at Viva Day Spa in Austin, Texas: For clients who’ve never had a peel, I start with an enzymatic option, which helps garner results while earning their trust. For someone I’ve seen more frequently, I offer a deeper, more aggressive peel that blends acids and a brightening agent. It addresses everything from hyperpigmentation to acne scarring, minimizing discoloration and improving texture.
Adriana Gomez, head esthetician at AG Skincare in Weston, Florida: In my 30-plus years in aesthetics, I’ve found DermaSwiss Peelex Plus to be the most reliable peel line. Their alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) have adequate concentrations, and the pH levels can be safely used with any skin type—not just on the face but the body—so we’re able to tailor treatments based upon clients’ needs. These peels are
great for concerns including acne, sun damage, stretch marks and aging, and they can even improve the appearance of the hands, underarms and elbows.
Karen Adjmi, owner of Earthsavers Spa and Store in New Orleans: The best professional peels will be customized, based on the guest’s skin type and goals. For sensitive skin, we choose non-acid options, such as vitamin, enzyme or peptide peels.
Describe your most popular peels.
Willett: I love the Éminence Arctic Berry Peptide Peel (30 min./$135), which begins with a dual cleanse and peptide peel, followed by a customized blend of nourishing serums and sun protection. It’s perfect for those new to peels, as it delivers anti-inflammatory benefits while providing deep exfoliation with very little downtime. Moreover, the polypeptides and botanical stem cells even out tone and texture, and omega-3 fatty acids leave skin glowing, hydrated and plumped.
Adjmi: The DermAware Genesis Peel (60 min./$85) combines vitamin A and peptides to stimulate collagen production and treat loss of elasticity. It can be used on all skin types with zero downtime and great results.
Gomez: The Jade Peel (45 min./$160) incorporates microdermabrasion and a jade stone, in addition to 30 percent glycolic acid and 15 percent mandelic acid. The glycolic is derived from sugar cane, and its lower molecular weight allows it to more deeply penetrate, so we typically recommend it for mature, thick, keratinized, wrinkled skin. The mandelic is retrieved from bitter almonds, and its higher molecular weight allows for slower and more superficial penetration without irritation.
Betzen: My current favorite is the Rhonda Allison Acne Remedies Peel (45 min./$75), featuring a tomato enzyme that contains a myriad of naturally occurring acids: glycolic, ascorbic, acetic, chlorogenic, malic, lactic and tartaric, along with sulfur, squalane, zinc and selenium. Blending this with antibacterial mandelic acid and a healing Italian Herbal Peel powder not only addresses acne lesions but aids healing without overdrying the skin. My clients love how this treatment clears their complexions.
Gomez: We suggest DermaSwiss Retinewal, formulated with Buddleja stem cells, niacin and grape seed extract. This product helps brighten skin, soften fine lines and reduce breakouts. Additionally, the brand’s Glycocell gel has 12 percent glycolic acid with pH 3.5, and is a nice complement to clarifying treatments that address hyperpigmentation; because its pH is higher than the professional options, it’s perfect for home care.
Betzen: While I don’t typically recommend at-home peels, Rhonda Allison’s Derma Peel is a papaya and pineapple enzyme gel that’s gentle yet effective for exfoliating dead, flaky skin. Having clients on correctives is also a must: retinol to fight aging and acne; Mandelic Arginine Serum with amino acids and antioxidants for those who are more sensitive, or are pregnant or breastfeeding; skin-smoothing glycolic for textural issues; or even a gommage mask once a week. These products can help keep skin looking amazing between visits.
Willett: I prefer that my clients use an enzyme or liquid exfoliation process at home, depending upon their goals and needs. Too much exfoliation can cause issues including dehydration and stripping of the skin, so using a gentle enzyme or toner with an acid base a few times a week is perfect. Ideally, they’ll see me every month for more clinical peels, but maintenance at home is the key to maximizing results.
Which clients should be advised against a particular peel?
Betzen: Individuals with compromised barriers, certain types of rosacea, open wounds or topical allergies to acids should avoid chemical exfoliation. Clients who experience daily sun exposure or refuse to wear SPF are also not great candidates. Those with medium and darker skin tones should be careful of TCA peels 15 percent and higher, as they can potentially cause hypopigmentation. Finally, I’ve noticed a dangerous trend of medical-strength acids being sold online to non-licensed people, so warn clients that these can cause permanent damage.
Gomez: Pregnant or lactating women, and individuals on medication that causes photosensitivity should avoid peels. Also, those who participate in a lot of outdoor sports and activities need to be very careful about sun exposure—especially during summer—if they’re getting professional peels.
Willett: Clients would not be eligible for a clinical grade peel if they’re diabetic, using strong AHAs/BHAs, or taking Accutane or retinoids. Additional contraindications would be if they’ve recently used a tanning bed, been waxed or had excessive exposure to the sun. In these cases, I advise them about caring for their skin at home, and come up with an alternative plan to tackle their needs in the treatment room.
Adjmi: Lifestyle, tolerance and compliance are all important considerations when deciding which peel is best for which client. We ask questions about all of these things at each visit, even if we’ve discussed them before.
–by Alexa Joy Sherman
This story first appeared in the February issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.