Of all the skin-care topics I've covered in my years reporting on beauty, chemical peels are one of the most polarizing. The word "peel" alone implies a reptilian shedding process that is nothing short of scary as hell. I get it — who wants to walk around with massive patches of croissant-like flakes falling off their face?
Still, there's a reason why the treatment comes highly recommended by experts and dermatologists. Board-certified dermatologist Suneel Chilukuri, MD, says that chemical peels target a wide range of skin concerns, including acne, discoloration, and uneven texture. "If the right peel is used, even those with rosacea and sensitive skin can benefit from the treatment," Dr. Chilukuri says. "Peels also improve the overall barrier function of the skin."
The magic is in the acids used for peels. Dr. Chilukuri explains that peels can function as single acids or be mixed with exfoliating agents. "Typical peeling agents are alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, which work by penetrating the skin and releasing the bonds between cells that hold them together," he says. "This allows the cells to exfoliate more effectively and bring new, fresh cells to the surface."
I'd gotten a gentle chemical peel once before, but decided to get a more intense treatment recently. Aside from wanting to hit a major reset button on my dull, tired pandemic complexion, I also thought now would be the best time for a chemical peel, since no one would see me crusty and dry while I moulted.
This time around, I took selfies detailing my post-treatment process. I invite you to join me on my chemical-peel journey through a series of very up-close, not particularly unflattering selfies, ahead... as long as you promise not to judge me.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.