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Everything You Need To Know About Facial Peels

Updated December 6, 2018

Confused by what facial peels are? Do they dry on your skin like a thin layer of glue that you pull off your face? No, those are peel-off masks. Do they make your skin actually flake and peel off? Sometimes, depending on the strength of the peel. Facial peels often have no visible peeling effect at all, which is why we’re here to unpuzzle your puzzlement with this ultimate guide. Here’s everything you need to know about facial peels.

What Do Facial Peels Do?

Peels are simply a form of chemical exfoliation. They remove dead skin cells, mainly through the use of acids that loosen the bond between the cells, and dissolve debris away. Unlike physical exfoliants (like scrubs and microdermabrasion), peel ingredients sink into the skin, targeting deeper layers than a physical exfoliant can reach. Despite this, a peel is often considered more gentle than a scrub. For those with a sensitive skin type who still want to smooth and refresh their complexion, a light peel is a fantastic option that won’t aggravate their complexion.

What Ingredients Are In A Peel?

Acids are the main active ingredient in a facial peel. For natural peels like our VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peels, we use Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) sourced from fruit and plants.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

AHAs are typically more mild and include glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids. A great choice for dry or sensitive skin types, AHAs exfoliate the skin surface while improving hydration levels, leaving the skin baby-soft and glowing.

Diagram of what Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) can do for your skin

Beta Hydroxy Acids

BHAs are typically stronger than AHAs and sink deeper into the skin to exfoliate and clean out pore walls. BHAs, like salicylic acid, are a best friend to oily or problem skin types as they fight current breakouts, prevent future breakouts and are non-irritating.

Diagram of what Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) can do for your skin

What Are The Benefits?

With acids working hard to reveal your best skin yet, there are an array of benefits that come along with a facial peel.

Eminence Organics Facial Recovery OilSmooths Skin

The most obvious benefit of a facial peel is, of course, smoother skin. Removing the dull, outer layer of dead skin cells with a facial peel leaves the skin feeling incredibly smooth and soft. To lock in smoothness, ensure your skin is kept deeply hydrated and protected post-peel. We recommend trying a restorative oil (like our Facial Recovery Oil) and, of course, using your favorite SPF moisturizer.

Evens Skin Tone

Because acids penetrate deeper than scrubbing particles, a chemical peel will likely result in a more glowy and even complexion than you will find with a physical exfoliant. With continued use, discolorations such as sun and age spots will look diminished, leaving your skin feeling bright and youthful.

Primes Skin

Because a peel reveals new skin cells and smooths your complexion, it leaves the skin as a perfect canvas to deeply absorb further treatments. A peel can be the perfect facial step to prime skin to reap the benefits of face masks and finishing products, as well as make extractions easier for your esthetician to perform.

Minimizes Fine Lines

Using a peel containing AHAs will help battle the look of fine lines as it delivers a gentle and hydrating form of exfoliation, remoisturizing the epidermis while sloughing away dead skin cells. Additionally, AHAs might stimulate the production of collagen and elastin which explains why so many people find their skin looking plump and firm after an AHA peel.

Shrinks Pores

With regular use, peels containing AHAs and BHAs will leave pores smaller and cleaner than before. The dead skin cells, excess sebum and bacteria that cling together inside of a pore tend to build up, causing pores to fill and expand. Because these acids break down the bonds that hold this debris together, peels clear out pores, shrinking and refining them.Eminence Organics Mangosteen Lactic Pro Peel

Clears Congestion

Much like how they shrink pores, peels are a fantastic way to clear away any congestion in the skin. Small whiteheads, blackheads, and milia are common signs of congested skin, and the acids in a facial peel work to gently break apart the “gunk” that’s causing clogged pores. Professional peels like our Mangosteen Lactic Pro Peel 10%, Pro Salicylic Acid Peel 15% and Blueberry Detox Firming Peel work extra hard to clear away pore congestion and leave the skin looking purified and radiant.

Prevents Breakouts

Peels with BHAs are a fantastic option to effectively combat breakouts. While a home care routine containing salicylic acid is crucial for managing oily skin types and acne, a peel works deeper to drastically improve breakouts, smooth texture and reduce dark spots and pigmentation. As salicylic acid is non-inflammatory, a BHA peel does all this without causing further irritation.

What Are The Different Types?

When trying to decide what level of peel you need, keep in mind that there are three main types that vary greatly.

1. Deep Peels

A deep peel is the strongest type of chemical peel, using acids like phenol or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in a painful process that penetrates deeply into the middle layer of the skin (the lower reticular dermis) and causes a second degree burn on the face. Side effects from deep chemical peels include multiple weeks of recovery while the new skin develops, the appearance of redness or burns and the skin literally peeling or flaking away from the face.

2. Medium Peels

More mild than a deep peel, while still using TCAs, a medium strength peel still results in redness but with a five to seven day recovery period. These peels are often used to treat scarring and photodamaged skin. It is worth noting that while these peels are more mild and involve less risk than deep peels, there is still a chance of developing scarring and blistering from a medium-strength peel. It is crucial that medium and/or deep peels be performed only by a trained professional and never at home.

3. Light Peels

The most gentle type of facial peel is effective without any downtime. Light peels, like Eminence Organics VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peels, don't require recovery as they do not exfoliate below the epidermis. Available for four skin care goals, you can find  Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel (with lactic and glycolic acids), Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel (with lactic and mandelic acids), Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel (with lactic and mandelic acids) and Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel (with lactic and salicylic acids) at your closest Eminence Organics partner spa. Watch Eminence Organics Lead Skin Care Trainer Natalie Pergar demonstrate how to use these peels in the video below.


VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peels are wonderful for home care as they do not need neutralization - you just apply, leave on, and see results. However, even with gentle peels, don't forget that your skin will be more sensitive to the sun - use sunscreen, wear protective clothing and limit your sun exposure after using.

Which VitaSkin™ Exfoliating Peel do you use to exfoliate your skin? Let us know in the comments or on social media at Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube

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