Remember the episode of Sex and the City where Samantha gets a chemical peel before an event? "I wanted to look fresh for the party," she tells Carrie. ”Well, you are,” Carrie replies. “You look like beef carpaccio."
Raw, red, burnt skin is not the desired effect of a facial peel, but most of us worry about its damaging impact. Surely we shouldn't be peeling anything away from our skin? Actually, peels go back further than you think: "The chemical peel is actually one of the oldest cosmetic procedures in the world," Nicola Kilner, co-CEO of Deciem, tells me. "Men and women in ancient Egypt used it to achieve beautiful, smoother skin."
Now, a new generation of peels is changing the game — scary words like “chemical” have been banished, and there's no need to fork out for an aesthetician to do the honors. With experts repeatedly advising against harsh and abrasive scrubs, the new peels are an essential step in your beauty routine. Designed to remove dead skin cells and restore the vibrancy of skin, fruit enzymes and natural acids head up the skin-friendly ingredients.
Keeping Samantha's mishap in mind, is there anything to be cautious about when using peels? "Not at all. Regular exfoliation is so important to maintaining healthy skin and maximizing the benefit of all products used on your skin," Lou Riby, MD, of Elemental Herbology, explains. "The key is to find the right product, follow instructions, and seek professional advice if you are not sure what to do."
So now that we've boycotted microbeads, ditched the coarse scrubs, and chosen a facial peel, what's the best way to use it? "Always ensure that skin is clean, and use it as a booster treatment — so once or twice a week will suffice," Amanda Bell, global director of training and artistry for Pixi, tells me. "Make sure you rinse skin after use and really hydrate with a serum or oil. The skin will look immaculate and the texture will be improved." Hopefully you're all using a daily SPF as a matter of course, but it's even more important when using facial peels. "Skin will be renewed, so more at risk from harmful UV rays," warns Elemis co-founder and creator Noella Gabriel.