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The What, Why And When About Peels

If you’re a peel virgin, this will answer your most pressing questions about the popular treatment.

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Peels are a fan favourite amongst beauty junkies because they give obvious and immediate results and you don't have to wait the usual 28 days to see a change in your skin. These fast workers instantly soften, smooth and refresh your skin so your complexion looks younger and more refined. But how does it work? We break it down for you.

What are they?

Basically, peels are chemical treatments that help to remove a layer of skin, usually the top layer that’s made of dead skin cells. However, “the amount of skin removed and degree of peeling is dependent on the type of peel used and how deeply it penetrates the skin,” Dr Melvin Tan, medical director of Epion Clinic, tells us. “This can range from superficial exfoliation of dead skin cells, to deep peels where a complete layer of skin is removed.”

Why should you use them?

Our skin has its own natural process of shedding dead skin cells so younger cells can emerge to give you a healthy, fresh-faced glow. However, factors like ageing, free radical damage and environmental attacks can cause your renewal cycle to get effected. So a great way to give it a little boost and get rid of surface dead skin cells is to use a peel.

Peels also have lots of other fun benefits, and according to Dr Tan, are “particularly effective in treating patients with oily skin, large pores and acne, as well as hyperpigmentation conditions such as melasma and acne scars.” He also explains that the exfoliation effect of peels also helps the rest of your skincare “penetrate deeper and more effectively”.

When is the best time to apply a peel?

Now that you know exactly what they are and why they’re great, let’s get to the ‘when’. If you feel like your complexion is looking a little lacklustre, tired and rough, then it might be time to take the plunge. You can choose a more gentle at-home peel to start, or if you want something stronger, you can visit a doctor to get a professional grade peel.

The frequency depends on the strength of your peel. There are gentle at-home peels that can be used daily, or peel treatments that last for a month. However, for deeper in-clinic peels, Dr Tan recommends a maximum of two to three times a year. After all, too much peeling can thin your skin, which brings with it a whole other host of problems.

Remember, you can have too much of a good thing. While they are definitely effective, try to be prudent when it comes to peels. And when in doubt, consult your doctor.

Here are some of our favourite tried-and-tested at-home peels

All products featured here are independently selected by DULU.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel, $135 for 30 applications

We love this because it’s gentle enough for all skin types and instantly brightens your complexion. This sheet-peel duo doesn’t use mechanical abrasion and instead removes dead skin cells safely with just a feel wipes. Step one is infused with exfoliating acids, while step two is chockfull of anti-ageing actives to soothe, protect and treat skin.

Elizabeth Arden Prevage Progressive Renewal Treatment, $362

This four-week treatment gets progressively stronger to gradually boost skin renewal. Week 1 works on skin clarity and radiance, week 2 treats fine lines and pores, week 3 softens deeper wrinkles, and week 4 works on the overall tone of skin so your complexion looks youthful and healthy.

Naturally Serious Cold Pressed Peel Pads, $63

Made without Parabens, Phthalates, Preservatives, PEG, Formaldehyde, Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Sulfates and Silicones, these no-rinse pads are infused with pomegranate enzyme and skin-smoothing oleic, palmitic and linoleic fatty acids, as well as a patented Anti-Pollution Blend of six antioxidants to help combat signs of ageing.

Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions’ Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, $99

If you like something fuss-free, then try this overnight serum. It not only helps to refine and smooth texture and even out skin tone, it also has a cocktail of fruit acids, cactus and quinoa husk extracts to encourage cell turnover, without irritating your complexion.

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