Everything You Need To Know Before You Try A Facial Peel

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 the treatment actually comes with more pros than cons — and there is a new generation of peels changing the game. Scary words like “chemical” have been banned, and there's no need to fork out for an aesthetician to do the honours. 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 maximising the benefit of all products used on your skin," says Lou Riby, MD, of Elemental Herbology. "The key is to find the right product, follow instructions, and seek professional advice if you are not sure what to do."
Still, there are a few things to keep in mind. "Always ensure that skin is clean, and use it as a booster treatment — so once or twice a week will suffice," says Amanda Bell, global director of training and artistry for Pixi. "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.
So there you have it: the revitalising and glow-inducing new addition to your skincare regime. Ahead, we've rounded up our favourite facial peels.
1 of 11
The Ordinary's peel solution not only resurfaces skin, but decongests pores while it works.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £6.30, available at Cult Beauty.
2 of 11
Mandelic, lactic, salicylic, and phytic acids work together in DCL's pads to even out skin tone and prevent breakouts.

DCL Multi-Action Penta Peel, £58, available at Cult Beauty.
3 of 11
You’ve probably tried (and loved) this brand’s cult-favourite Glow Tonic, but these pads are also worth the hype — they fade scars, battle breakouts, and buff away dead skin cells all in one go.

Pixi Glow Peel Pads, £24, available at Cult Beauty.
4 of 11
The natural fruit enzymes make this cream exfoliator gentle and leave skin radiant.

Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel, £35.29, available at Nordstrom.
5 of 11
Pads are a quick and easy way to incorporate peels into your routine — we love this antioxidant-boosting one from Zelens.

Zelens PHA+ Bio-Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads, £52, available at Look Fantastic.
6 of 11
Apply twice a week for 10 minutes and the papaya enzymes will reduce dark spots and tighten your overall complexion.

Caudalie Glycolic Peel, £22, available at Look Fantastic.
7 of 11
This mask is great for a Sunday evening bath — you'll knock 'em dead come Monday.

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel & Reveal Revitalizing Mask, £19.95, available at All Beauty.
8 of 11
If you want to add some life to grey, tired-looking skin, this is the ticket. Swipe a few drops on a cotton pad all over your face before bed, and wake up looking fresh as a daisy.

Vichy Idéalia Peel, £23.62, available at Vitazita.
9 of 11
There are plenty of all-star brightening ingredients in this formula — vitamin C! lactic acid! squalene! — but what truly sets it apart is its milky texture, courtesy of coconut milk, which prevents any irritation.

Dr. Jart Dermaclear Micro Milk Peel, £28.50, available at Selfridges.
10 of 11
Perfect for the peel-pad beginner, these individual sheets are soaked with a potent blend of glycolic acid, witch hazel, and calendula extract to help exfoliate, clarify, and soothe, respectively.

Bliss That’s Incredi-peel Pads, £39, available at Marks & Spencer.
11 of 11
Nothing fits the millennial aesthetic quite like Saturday Skin's debut peel, but it's the gentle, enzyme-packed formula (which is safe for even the most sensitive skin types) that steals the show.

Saturday Skin Rub-A-Dub Refining Peel Gel, £22, available at Cult Beauty.

More from Skin Care


R29 Original Series