The recent cold snap and biting winds means many of us have been left with ‘ winter face’ – that worn out, tired look when skin is pasty and dull. Skin is drier at this time of year because everything slows down. Cell turnover slows down, the blood supply slows down and even hydration of the skin is reduced – it’ almost as if the skin is going into hibernation.
So how to fast track your way to restoring radiance? Enter the new generation of super peels, which can do more to plump up skin, smooth out rough texture and restore luminosity than a month’s worth of lotions and potions.
Over the last few years’ peels have been eclipsed by more modern treatments such as skin resurfacing lasers, Botox, and dermal fillers. They’ve also suffered from an image problem – even the name is scary – conjuring up pictures of a red raw face and flaking skin (remember actress Samantha Jones hiding her face in Sex and the City).
But now they are back in fashion and for good reason. While the old-style peels used very strong concentrations of acids to dissolve the top layers of skin and needed to be carefully supervised by a doctor, the new generation of super peels have been refined using gentler and more natural ingredients like Glycolic and Salicylic acid, are perfectly safe for all skin types, painless, cheaper than hi-tech devices and, even better, can be used at home.
The goal now isn’t so much as to cause visible peeling but to infuse the complexion with ingredients that gradually diminish lines and kick start collagen restoring that natural glossy glow that tends to fade as we age. Your skin-care products will also perform better after a peel because there are no dead cells impeding their penetration. From the new home overnight peels to the new gentler chemical boosters at the clinic, everyone can benefit from a peel, so here’s our pick of the best ones to help you peel back the years.
AT THE CLINIC
Chemical peels can work wonders for your skin. They can clear up acne, lessen the appearance of scars and dark spots, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. The right peel is selected for your skin, painted over the complexion with a small brush avoiding the eye area and left for the required time. Within In minutes of applying, acids lift away dead cells and trigger a chain reaction: As that topmost layer is shed, signals are sent to the living cells below to multiply and move up, to increase collagen production and to make more hyaluronic acid.
Afterwards the skin is cleansed again and a moisturiser is applied. The whole process from start to finish can take, on average, around twenty minutes. One treatment can instantly brighten skin, but most clinics now prefer to do a course of six to eight lighter peels to a period of time for longer lasting results.
This is our favourite peel. This acid occurs naturally in sugar cane and gently dissolves the glue-like substance that holds dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. It comes in a variety of strengths – from a salon strength of 20-40% to a clinic version of 70-90%, which must only be performed by a cosmetic doctor. Great for freshening up a tired, jaded complexion, smoothing fine lines and is suitable for all skin types – even sensitive plus there’s no downtime. You’ll need a course of six to get good results, then a top-up every couple of months a course of six to get good results, then for six weeks and then once a month for maintenance. From £70 – 0207 436 4441
*Salicylic Peel – Good for oily skin, fine lines and wrinkles and sensitive skin and ideal for those undergoing acne treatment, as this will accelerate any skincare programme you are using. Depending on the condition of your skin, you may need several treatments. For a noticeable result most people need six-ten sessions. From £70 0207 436 4441
*ESPA Enzyme Renew Facial
A natural alternative, this uses fruit enzymes which are a fabulous peeling agent, to gently dissolve dull and dead cells. This indulgent treatment also combines dry brushing to deeply cleanse, followed by a firming mask, a relaxing facial massage with Rose Quartz Crystals.
From £70 for 90 minutes, www.espaskincare.com
Home peels are designed to work in a similar way to professional treatments but contain a lower percentage of active acids. Most are formulated with alpha and or beta hydroxyl acids, which include glycolic, salicylic and lactic acid. These acids are commonly found in skin care products but are used in slightly higher concentrations than in at-home peels to enable them to dissolve dead skin cells. We’re huge fan as they are a cheap and easy way to perk up the skin. Plus you’ll get even better results if you use them to maintain the benefits of a professional peel. Try these….
* Vichy Idéalia Peeling (£30.00 boots.com) the latest launch and the first overnight peel treatment suitable for the most sensitive of skins. Containing a unique water-light formula with the power of a serum, proven to refine pores, improve skin texture and smooth fine lines in just four weeks. The gentle peeling action [4% Glycolic Acid + 5% Hepes] acts to create long-term radiance and improve skin quality day by day. From the first application, skin is left feeling softer and looking brighter.
* Soap & Glory Fab Pore, 2-in-1 Facial Pore Purifying Mask & Peel (£10 boots.com)
A 15-minute clay-based paste with Soap & Glory’s secret weapon, PORESHRINK-R, a beta-hydroxyl acid that peels away dead skin as well as tightening pores. Use up to three times a week. –-
*Origins GinZing Peel-Of Mask (£24 origins.co.uk)
Best for refining and refreshing the complexion, this refreshing peel-off mask works in minutes and is fortified with coffee beans, ginseng and Origins gentle fruit acid complex. It helps lift away dull, dead skin plus dirt and debris to leave you looking clear and radiant.
Top tips for the perfect peel
*Different skin types require different peels. Have a professional peel first so an expert can determine what sort of peel would suit your skin type.
*Never apply ingredients that can irritate your skin post-peel, such as retinol. Hyaluronic acid will help rehydrate your skin post-peel, so invest in a good moisturiser containing HA.
*If you are using a home peel follow the instructions carefully and use once or twice a week maximum. Using them too often, or the wrong type of peel/ingredients can be a recipe for redness, breakouts and even burns.
*Always wear a sun protection of at least 30SPF after treatment, even when it’s cloudy, as your skin will be extra sensitive to ultraviolet light.
* Don’t forget peels aren’t just for the complexion; they can be uses on the backs of the hands, the neck and décolletage.