The MECCA guide to peels: what they are and how to choose the right one for you

‘Peels’ can sometimes be a daunting word when it comes to skincare. But we’re here to tell you that it shouldn’t be—peels come in peace, and they’re here to fast-track your collagen production to leave skin glowing, not peeling. Chemical exfoliants like AHAs, BHAs and PHAs found in peels can alleviate acne, help minimise fine lines and generally give skin a bit of reinvigorating overhaul.

Coming into the colder months, peels come into their own because cold winds and over-airconditioned spaces dry skin out, making it the ideal time to start thinking about investing in a solid exfoliant (read: peel). There are a few different types of peels to choose from, so we’re going to help you take your pick


Easy to use and practically fool-proof, these types of peels are quick to swipe on and slip right into your current routine. Something like the Skyn Iceland Nordic Peel is a good pick for those with sensitive skin (yes, you can still enjoy a peel even with sensitive skin) because it uses white willow bark which soothes irritation while preventing breakouts and congestion. This peel also uses papaya fruit extract which is a natural enzyme that helps dissolve the dead layer of skin that causes your complexion to look dull. Elemis also offer resurfacing pad—they’re highly effective and gentle enough for regular use. Like the Skyn Iceland peels above, these also harness natural enzymes to encourage your skin to behave younger by accelerating skin cell turnover for a bright, bouncy effect. Another peel that can be used every day? It would have to be the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel—if you haven’t heard the hype, then start here.

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If you prefer to enjoy your self-care peel moment by marinating in a mask or treatment, then these formulas might be for you. Take the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Exfoliating Mask; apply a thick layer of this at-home peel and sit for 10 minutes while it goes to work on issues like pigmentation and the appearance of fine lines. It contains a hefty serve of malic, glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids plus vitamin A to further smooth fine lines and antioxidant-rich grapeseed extract to protect and nourish. Susanne Kaufmann offers a weekly treatment with her Enzyme Peel—it’s formulated with witch hazel to exfoliate inside the pore and also contains menthol to calm skin. Similar to Juice Beauty, it uses apple and also kiwi enzymes to gently resurface skin—while a hit of aloe vera ensures skin stays hydrated (a must for even the most sensitive of skin types).

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Try something like Goldfaden MD’s Fresh A Peel—especially if you find glycolic acid is a little too harsh&mdashit uses lactic acid in a mild gel formulation. It’s designed to treat uneven texture and leaves skin looking radiant; just a thin later for one to three minutes, up to three times a week will do the job. Not often a well-known formula, Amore Pacific offer an enzyme peel cleansing powder. It can be applied after you cleanse morning or night by wetting a small amount of the powder to create a foam and applying a thin layer all over. It cleanses away impurities and dead skin cells with its plant-derived formula. The dense foam gently removes excessive sebum resulting in brighter, more refreshed skin—plus it’s packed with a green tea-derived probiotic which contains enzymes that slough away dead skin.

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No time to rinse? Ren’s Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic can simply be applied with a cotton round after you’ve cleansed and before you add serums or moisturisers—its gentle vegan formula is formulated for daily use as the name suggests. It uses AHAs and BHAs to brighten the complexion, refine skin texture and minimise the look of pores—we’re talking radiant, smoother-looking skin over time. The Dr. Dennis Gross Professional Grade Resurfacing Liquid Peel is a serious peel, one you’d expect to receive in his NYC skin clinic if you were lucky enough to book in an appointment. It’s a two-step treatment that dissolves interfering layers of skin for softer skin in just one use. Key ingredients in this peel include both glycolic and lactic acids to resurface skin texture, while centella asiatica, colloidal oatmeal and green tea extract all help to restore radiance for younger-looking skin. Another doctor who is big on peels is Perricone MD; his No Rinse Exfoliating Peel is a liquid that can be applied as the final step to your cleansing routine—it’s a leave-on exfoliant that helps plump fine lines and give skin a nice glow. Its unique copper complex energises and hydrates skin, helping visibly improve skin firmness and elasticity over time.

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