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Good skin is easier to achieve than you may think. Beneath all the acne, the dark spots and annoying fine lines are layers of healthy skin that are just waiting to come to surface. The fastest way to get there is with a chemical peel — a classic treatment at any dermatologist’s office.
“[Chemical peels] generally address a deficiency that's noticed — for example, acne or marks left over from acne/ pigmentary concerns that are superficial. Sometimes it can address very superficial textural changes as well,” says Dr. Renée A. Beach, MD, FRCPC Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist of Bay Dermatology Centre.
But why leave your house when you can get smoother, brighter and clearer skin from your top beauty shelf with the best at-home facial chemical peels. Inspired by the combination of AHA (glycolic and lactic acid), BHAs (salicylic acid which is the gold standard for acne) and gentle exfoliants like fruit enzymes, these innovative solutions are designed to dissolve dead skin cells to reveal younger-looking skin overnight or in as little as a few minutes without the hassle, wait-time and high-end prices of clinical procedures.
With endless options of at-home peel kits and formulas available on the market, there’s one in particular that remains top on our list of must-haves, and it’s been one that shoppers have been swearing by for decades. Enter the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel.
SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $130
Perfect for sensitive and ageing skin, these patented, two-step peel pads are pre-dosed with five essential acids including glycolic, salicylic and lactic to visibly reduce dullness, uneven texture, fine lines and dark circles fast. Step 1 uses potent AHAs like malic acid and BHAs to gently exfoliate the skin, refine pores, and support natural cell renewal while Step 2, fueled with retinol and resveratrol for maximized anti-aging benefits and skin protection, stops acid activity to hydrate and smooth skin for a radiant complexion.
“I started using these peels five years ago. There is nothing comparable on the market. They work both to refresh immediately and visibly reduce lines over time,” says one reviewer. “My favourite are the universal (daily peel) but I do use the extra strength from time to time. I don’t have a dermatologist and have not started using any Botox or fillers yet. My skin age, texture, brilliance and line formation is comparable to my friends that do use professional peels, products and Botox.”
“I am a longtime user of the Daily Peel from Dr. Gross. I have rosacea but was delighted to find a peel that not only didn't aggravate but significantly improved the clarity, refinement and overall youthfulness of my skin. I am in my sixties and feeling vibrant with my appearance,” reads another.
These peel pads are so effective that they sell every three seconds.
But despite their popularity, Beach warns that at-home peels aren’t for everyone.
“Certain peels can be widely used across a variety of skin types (for example, glycolic acid-containing peels), but some can be too strong for sensitive skin or put deeper skin tones at risk of inflammation that can ultimately lead to darker marks or dyspigmentation,” she explains.
For more options, here, we’ve rounded up the best at-home chemical peels on the market to help cater to your skincare needs and concerns.
A gentle overnight acid peel that delivers an effective five per cent of glycolic acid (the gold standard in chemical exfoliation to remove dead skin and support cell turnover) to help improve the look and feel of skin while you sleep.
SHOP IT: Sephora, $175
This gentle peel, a 10-minute instant facial at home, buffs away dull, dead skin cells and brightens dark spots to reveal a glowing, smooth complexion. Made with natural, time-release glycolic, papaya enzymes and Caudalie’s signature Viniferine, a brightening complex that is clinically proven to lighten dark spots 62 times more than vitamin C, this treatment supports collagen production for healthier-looking skin.
SHOP IT: Sephora, $51
The potent version of the skincare label’s bestselling glycolic fix pads, these extreme night pads contain a higher level of glycolic acid (5 per cent) and have been further enhanced with the addition of salicylic acid, making these the ultimate affordable night treatment to refine pores, brighten the complexion and de-congest the skin through the improvement of the skin’s natural exfoliation process.
SHOP IT: Nip + Fab, $25 ($19 USD)
Formulated with a proprietary multi-acid complex, this bestselling leave-on AHA/BHA peel improves skin texture and boosts clarity and radiance without irritation or over-drying. With glycolic, malic, and botanically derived lactic acid, the formula clears away dull surface cells, while arginine and essential fatty acids help soothe and nourish to reveal a brighter complexion. After just one week of use, 87 per of users said skin felt smoother and softer.
SHOP IT: Beautycounter, $80
This overnight treatment kit is powered with a unique blend of 100 per cent natural glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid for gentle and safe exfoliation with a boost of moisture. With daily use every two weeks, this ageing peel increases skin turnover to reveal plump skin, clear pores and reduced appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
SHOP IT: LASPA Naturals, $130
Rather than using it as a leave-on treatment, this lightweight gel peel works in three ways: As a physical peel to remove the outer layer of dead skin, as a chemical peel for in-depth exfoliation, and as a treatment to help skin appear firmer and brighter for a healthy-looking complexion. Made with exfoliating molecules, fruit AHAs and enzymes, it removes debris and excess skin as you massage the solution onto the face in a circular motion. The results are gross and oddly satisfying.
SHOP IT: Sephora, $45
The brand’s top product worldwide, this fan-favourite leave-on solution is made with salicylic acid to quickly exfoliate dead skin cells while clearing pores for a more even, radiant tone. It also visibly reduces fine lines and wrinkles to reveal remarkably smoother, and younger-looking skin. This exfoliant has an optimal pH range of 3.2–3.8 — perfect for those with cystic acne.
Shop it: Paula’s Choice, $41 ($29 USD)
Suitable for most skin types, this natural BHA- and enzyme-powered mask restores skin's glow and refines pores to banish dullness for even, healthy-looking radiant skin. The award-winning beta-hydroxy mask with 100 per cent natural ingredients works like a traditional peel to provide an instant solution for dull skin — without causing downtime or irritation.
SHOP IT: Nordstrom, $222
Resurface skin with a luxurious, potent, yet non-stripping combination of naturally derived AHA, PHA, and BHA acids. Powered with a Multi-Fruit Acid Complex, the skin is left glowing, smoother, and hydrated for up to 12 hours.
SHOP IT: beautyBOUTIQUE, $75
This foaming, two-phase peel combines a turquoise copper paste and lactic acid activator to instantly brighten and smooth the skin’s appearance. It visibly refines and smooths the complexion and reduces the appearance of large pores for a brighter, more even skin tone. It’s an at-home beauty treatment that feels like an in-spa treatment.
SHOP IT: Sephora, $210