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All You Need To Know To Choose The Right DIY Face Peel

While face peels sound intimidating, they can brighten the complexion and improve one's skin texture. Here’s what to look out for while shopping for the right face peel.

Traditionally, when we think about exfoliation, face scrubs automatically spring into our minds. The truth is, many are either made of plastic microbeads (very bad for the environment as they get washed into the oceans and end up causing pollution) or roughly grounded granules (that can cause micro tears in fragile skin), which explains why they have racked up a bit of a bad rep amongst the environmentally-friendly and those with sensitive-prone skin.

As a result, more people are looking at chemical exfoliators to get the job done. And while chemical exfoliators have been in existence for decades – they used to be restricted to the doctor’s office, where a high concentration of acids is applied to give skin an overhaul, revealing fresh and youthful-looking skin – in recent years, they’ve found their way into at-home products (at mild and safe concentrations of course) so women and men are able to target various skin conditions without worrying about aggravating their skin. And thanks to the constant improvement of technology and new formulations, chemical exfoliators, aka face peels (as many of them are known as) now feature sophisticated ingredients that are able to combat pigmentation, wrinkles, blemishes and roughness without ever being overly harsh.

The main ingredient found in face peels are exfoliating acids: AHAs and BHAs. AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids, are water soluble compounds that dissolve the “glue” that holds dead skin cells on the surface of our skin, sweeping them away to reveal clearer, softer skin beneath. As a result, skin looks brighter, feels smoother and products also penetrate better.They can increase skin’s photo-sensitivity so it’s usually advised to be conscientious with sunscreens if you’re using products that contain AHAs. Some AHAs that are commonly found in skincare include: glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid.

BHAS, or beta hydroxy acids, are oil soluble compounds so they are able to penetrate the sebum plugs that clog pores. Since they also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, they are usually found in products that are best suited for oily and blemish-prone skin. The most common BHA found in skincare products is salicylic acid. However, more often than not, skincare products contain both AHAs and BHAs for multiple benefits. Here, 10 face peels to try for all your skin

For Gentle Peeling Action: June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque, $144
Pumpkin enzyme lies in the heart of this ultra-gentle formula, which not only eliminates dead skin cells, it also regulates cellular turnover and infuses skin with a host of fatty acids, vitmains and minerals to improve skin texture and tone. And that’s not all, this refreshing masque is also enriched with white, red and green tea extracts, along with antioxidant-rich goji berry, pomegranate and grape seed extracts to further neutralise the hazardous effects of free radicals for healthier, more resilient skin. For Daily Exfoliation: Pixi Glow Tonic To-Go Exfoliating Toner Pads, $28
Pre-soaked in the brand’s iconic Glow Tonic, these toner pads help to slough away dead skin cells, brighten and hydrate your skin in one simple sweep. In addition to glycolic acid, they also infuse skin with aloe vera to soothe and hydrate, as well as ginseng extract, to energise and brighten for instantly smoother, clearer and brighter skin. For Erasing Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads, $81
As its name suggests, this peeling pads are designed to target those concerned with wrinkles in particular. Formulated with a cocktail of AHAs and BHAs, it sweeps away dullness-causing dead skin cells while penetrating deep into pores to unclog congestion, gradually refining skin texture for smoother, softer skin. Amino acids present also help nourish and condition skin. For Uneven Skin Tone: Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple Acid Brightening Peel, $109
Taking one step beyond skin resurfacing, these singularly packed peeling pads are soaked with a blend of three acids with a synergistic effect on skin texture and discolouration. Mandelic acid dislodges stubborn dead skin cells gently, phytic acid provides potent antioxidant properties to inhibit inflammation that can lead to melanin synthesis and azelaic acid helps refine skin texture to unveil a brighter, more even-toned complexion. For A Complete Skin Overhaul: La Prairie Cellular 3-Minute Peel, $380
Renew, refresh and revitalise dull and tired skin with this luxurious face peel. Formulated with both AHAs and BHAs, it works best for those facing skin laxity, enlarged and congested pores. Designed to be used weekly, apply a thin layer onto clean, dry skin (always avoid the eye and lip area) and wait three minutes before rinsing with tepid water. Thanks to its skin-polishing and moisture-retaining properties, expect nothing less softer, suppler and plumper skin. For Combating Pigmentation: Murad Rapid Resurfacing Peel, $99
Lacklustre and rough skin gives way to a radiant and smooth complexion, thanks to this extra strength peeling pad. Formulated with 10% glycolic acid, it effectively renews skin surface to give it a rejuvenated appearance. Vitamin C and licorice root extract are also present to inhibit melanin synthesis to reduce pigmentation and dark spots. And as with all Murad products, it is also fortified with a special blend of ingredients to hydrate, protect and soothe skin. For Comprehensive Anti-Ageing: Lancer Caviar Lime Acid Peel, about $126, Net-A-Porter
Inspired by in-clinic procedures that deeply rejuvenate skin, this advanced formula of 10% glycolic acid eliminates dead skin cells from the surface while diminishing the appearance of pores while phytic acid that promotes radiant skin. Plus, Caviar Lime infuses skin with a burst of vitamins, minerals and AHAs to condition and further improve skin texture. And that’s not all, this power-packed product also contains retinol to regulate skin renewal for younger-looking skin over time. For Dry Skin: Youth Corridor Revitalising Beta Hydroxy Mask, about $150, Net-A-Porter
Aside from a cocktail of specially blended exfoliating acids to get rid of dead skin cells, this ultra-gentle formula also boasts the brand’s MicroSperse Dispersion Technology to guard against environmental assaults and deeply hydrate skin. Hyaluronic acid and allantoin are also present to infuse skin with moisture while instantly soothing it. For Sun-Damaged Skin: Kat Burki Restorative Dual Acid Peel, about $175, Escentials
Formulated to provide dual-action against photo-damaged skin that’s rough and dull, this plant-based peel contains glycolic acid to resurface skin and improve skin texture while hyaluronic acid locks in moisture for an instantly plumped appearance. In addition, grapeseed and avocado oils rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants help replenish skin for improved resilience. To Eliminate Blackheads: Glossier Solution, about $32
Supercharged with a host of AHAs, BHAs and PHAs (basically new-generation AHAs that penetrate skin slower so they are supposedly gentler), use this as you would a regular toner on cleansed, dry skin nightly. Over time, skin texture will be noticeably refined, congested pores are diminished and skin feels softer and smoother.