We Tried Peel-Off Beauty Products — & Here's What Happened

On a recent work trip, a scientist at a skin-care lab I toured told me how important it is to test for "skin feel." What, exactly, is "skin feel"? Just what it sounds like: the way a product feels on the skin. At first, I rolled my eyes — Why does it matter how a product feels if it does the job? I asked myself.

But it turns out, it matters...a lot. "Skin feel" can mean the difference between a boring ol' bar of soap and a frothy, fun beauty product. After some deliberation, I realized that there are certain products that I enjoy because of their texture, consistency, and innovative modes of application — because somehow, unique products like these make mundane beauty rituals a little more fun.

So, when peel-off beauty products started hitting the Eastern and Western markets left and right, we jumped on the opportunity to give them a try. Some promise skin-care benefits, while others leave behind a stain of color that lasts for hours — either way, every type requires you to peel the product off your skin. Sure, that might sound disgusting to some, but if any of you have tried a peel-off mask before, you know that products like these can be damn satisfying (and dare we say, relaxing?).

We put four popular peel-off beauty products to the test, with the help of models Tierra Therese and Shiyin Lin. Scroll through to find out how the products fared, and see just how they work in GIF form.
Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Product: Etude House Tint My Brows Gel in #3 Gray Brown

How To Use It
: Etude House's peel-off brow tint resembles a chubby liquid liner, but it's used totally differently. Basically, you paint it onto your brows to temporarily dye both the brow hairs and the skin underneath them.

Simply use the applicator to brush the gel onto your brows in the shape you prefer, cleaning up the edges with a cotton swab as needed. Then, read a book, have a meal, or watch TV — because you have to let this stuff sit on your brows for a minimum of two hours before peeling it off. It's not so bad, though, because the product dries down to a non-transferable finish in less than 10 minutes. You can even sleep with this stuff on overnight without fear of it getting on your white pillows! Just keep in mind: The longer you leave the gel on, the deeper the color will appear.

The Verdict:
Of all the peel-off products that we tested out, the eyebrow gel was definitely the most intriguing — even our on-set makeup artist Chichi Saito was perplexed by the formula. Although Lin was worried about wearing a product that would, quite literally, stain her brow hairs and skin, the promise of perfect brows kept her going. "It's a risk worth taking if it means not having to re-do my eyebrows every morning," she said.

After Saito applied a coat of the gel to her arches, Lin sat tight waiting for the brows to set. "There's always the anxiety of not drawing symmetrically," Saito said. "But you can always touch it up with your usual brow pencil [later] if need be." When it came time to peel off the application, Lin was worried the gel would pull out her brows. "It did take a few hairs here and there, but nothing to worry about," she said.

Once the gel was removed, Lin was left with near-perfect brows. "I think my eyebrows came out great," she said. "I loved waking up with eyebrows [already done]." The stain lasted a few days before slowly fading into a lighter shade of brown, but Lin had no trouble simply filling in sparse areas with her brow pencil. "[It's] a time-saving beauty tool," Lin added. "I would definitely use it again."
Alix Astor Body, $135, available at Alix NYC.

Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Product: Glamglow’s Gravity Mud Firming Treatment

How To Use It: Evenly apply the silver product to your face with the included brush, making sure to avoid the eyebrow and hairline area. Allow it to dry for about 30 minutes. Once finished — you'll know it's ready when you can touch it without getting any product on your fingers — peel it off from the corners very gently. It’s formulated to instantly firm, tighten, and define your skin.

Out of the two products our model Tierra tried out, she was the most excited for this Tin Man mask. “I’ve seen people post selfies wearing this mask before, but no one put any information as to what brand it was,” she said. “I’ve never tried a peel-off skin-care product before, so I was excited to try it.”

The Verdict:
Though she didn’t technically apply the product herself — Saito helped with that — she was thoroughly impressed with the application process. “The little paint brush they provide allows you to smooth the product out and really makes sure it’s being applied well,” she noted. A couple of our beauty team members have tested out the product as well and can attest to the easy, foolproof, and quite luxurious experience.

Once it was on, Therese mentioned that the mask did get a little tight around the lip area, but not enough to write it off (the fact that she had it on more than the recommended 30 minutes due to the timing of the photo shoot was also likely a factor). “It dries up similarly to a charcoal mask but isn’t nearly as tight,” she said. “I couldn’t really smile that much, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.” The peel-off process was just as seamless as the application. “It wasn’t difficult at all once the edges came up, it peeled off pretty easily,” she noted.

The results didn’t disappoint, either. Therese mentioned that her complexion brightened up a bit, and she could see the dirt the formula extracted from her nose area. Will she be adding it to her vanity any time soon? If her bank account permits (it clocks in at close to $70). “I’d definitely try it again, I actually might buy it. I'll just have to put some money aside here and there [Laughs].”

Saito added that, out of all the products she worked with on the shoot, the mask is the one she would most consider adding to her professional makeup kit. “Eyebrows are a bit difficult to use for a shoot, but the mask is good,” she said. “If a model’s skin is dry, it would be great to use before shooting — 20 minutes and you’re done.”
Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Product: Kiesque Liquid Palisade

How To Use It: Liquid Palisade is what we like to call "painter's tape" for your nails. Simply brush a layer of the product onto the skin around your nail and let it dry before moving on to nail polish. The layer of product will dry and serve as a barrier between the polish and your skin, which means you can be as messy as you want with your lacquer application. Once you're done painting, simply peel off the barrier of Liquid Palisade to reveal a perfectly shaped manicure. It's that easy.

The Verdict: According to Lin, the cuticle peel was by far the most accessible product she tried. "It was very easy to apply, since the only area you need to avoid is the nail itself," she said. "Everything else can be a mess."

After applying the cuticle peel around Lin's nails, Saito started working on her manicure. "The cuticle peel dried very quickly, which is great because you want to get straight to applying polish," Lin said. "It dries before your eyes, and you see the color of the product change from an opaque pink to a transparent pink."

The only qualm Lin had with the product was the thought of accidentally painting Liquid Palisade on her actual nail before moving on to polish. "This would lift up [the polish] when you peel it off," she noted.

That being said, Lin praised the results and said the product is ideal for anyone who's interested in nail art or just wants a pristine manicure. Nail artist Rachel Shim also added that Elmer's Glue, or even painter's tape, can be used as an alternative to traditional peel-off nail products.
Photographed by Filippo Del Vita.
Product: Skinaz 24 Hour Lip Tattoo

How To Use It: Apply the thick goop to your pout, as you would a regular lip product (though Saito recommends using a brush for precision, as it can get pretty sticky). Leave it on for about 15 minutes, or until dry, then gently peel it off. Similar to the brow product, the longer you leave it on, the stronger the hue.

The Verdict:
This was another product Therese had caught wind of via social media. But she was more wary of testing it out because of the experiences others have had. “YouTuber ItsMyRaeRae did a review of Korean peel-off products, and it made me want to try it, though I could tell it would take a bit of expertise putting it on properly,” she said. “In the video, she’s shown with her lips puckered out the whole time, in order to not get it on her teeth.” (Not ideal, obviously.)

The product spilling over onto her teeth was also one of the gripes Therese had with this one. Unless you want to look like you chugged a bottle of red wine (or have your lips stick together), be prepared to master the puckered pout when trying out this particular peel-off formula.

Another thing to keep in mind: The application process isn’t the prettiest (which is why Saito recommends using a brush). “The application was really sticky,” Therese said. “Getting it in the right shape isn’t the easiest.”

The results will be worth it, though. As Therese noted, the actual peel-off process was clear skies and smooth sailing. “It came off in one piece and was actually easier than the mask because it was smaller,” she said. The vibrant color you're left with is also a major payoff. It’s neither a stain nor a lipstick. In fact, it’s even better, because it lasts all night long and won’t leave a red ring around everything you eat or drink.

Therese’s one wish: that the berry pigment lasted longer. “I wish it was something that would stay for more than 24 hours,” she said. “But I plan on just throwing a little bit of clear gloss over the color and calling it a day.”
So, what do you think? Will you be giving peel-off beauty a try sometime soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

American Apparel, Cotton Spandex Long Sleeve Off-Shoulder Top, $34, available at American Apparel; Alix Seville One-Piece, $225, available at Alix NYC.


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