All hail the micro peel, my new favourite at-home treatment

I love an elegant solution to a problem. For instance, I know I need to exfoliate my skin on a regular basis and micro-peels allow me to do just with very little effort. It can get to work while I scroll through my Instagram feed, read a book, watch a series, even while I’m sleeping. That’s my kind of multi-tasking.

It’s also much gentler than scrub-a-dubbing, with enzymes and chemical exfoliants that break down the glue between dead skin cells, allowing them to slough off faster.

The beauty scene has experienced an explosion of at-home micro-peels, which are perfect for maintaining that glowing appearance.

How do they work?

Most micro peels contain hydroxy acids and / or enzymes that weaken the bonds between dead skin cells so that they shed faster, boosting your skin renewal cycle. Glycolic Acid, a powerful Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is currently a favourite among brands and rightly so. Salicylic Acid is another popular choice that helps to unclog pores, making it especially beneficial for oily, acne-prone skin types.

Frequent use will help reduce superficial pigmentation, boost collagen production thereby fighting wrinkles, and it will prep your skin for the active ingredients in your serums and moisturiser.

Does it work for all skin types?

Yes. I have sensitive skin that is prone to eczema flair-ups, so aggressive peels and physical scrubs are in the red-zone. Gentler micro peels work much better for me to clear up congestion, refine and treat pigmentation.

Micropeels are also fantastic for combination and oily skin types to remove sticky sebum that can lead to breakouts.

Can you use a micro peel if you’re using retinol products?

You should never use exfoliating products and retinol on the same night since both work to resurface the skin. If you’re just starting a new micropeel, stop using your retinol product until your skin has adjusted. After that you can alternate between the two.

A note on sunscreen

You should never skip sunscreen as a rule, but it’s especially important to be diligent if you are using micro-peeling products since these increase your sensitivity to sun damage.

Keen to try it? Here are a few products I’ve been enjoying.

Filorga Re-Oxygenating Micro-Peeling Lotion

R520 for 150ml, filorgasouthafrica.co.za

This oxygen-peel contains a cocktail of ingredients including glycolic, phytic, salicylic and mandelic acid. These gently slough off dead skin, and will target wrinkles, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and boost radiance.

They have also added hyaluronic acid and their unique NCTF complex to boost hydration, while cytoglobin fights oxidative stress on the cells.

L’Oreal Revitalift Bright Reveal Peel Pads

R363, leading retailers

These pads have been soaked in a 10% Glycolic Acid complex to gently resurface your skin for a more even, smoother appearance.

After cleansing, wipe the textured pads over your skin and follow with a moisturiser.

While the pads contain pure Glycolic Acid, I didn’t find them too harsh. At most they left a warm feeling on my skin, without any signs of irritation. If you have sensitive skin, start by using these once a week and then increase use.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening and Smoothing Moisture Treatment

R950 for 50ml, kiehls.co.za

This treatment combines Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C with moisturizing ingredients to give you brighter, clearer and smoother skin.

You’ll use it as a moisturiser after cleansing your skin, and this one can be used in the morning and evenings. Just remember to ALWAYS wear sunscreen. It has a light, gel texture with a silky finish, which will probably feel most comfortable on combination to dryer skins.

SVR Hydracid C50 Micro-Peeling Smoothing Radiance Boost Mousse

R595 for 50ml, info@labo-svr.co.za

This micro peeling foam mask contains gentle exfoliating ingredients and a high concentration of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that also boosts collagen and helps to target pigmentation.

It is a super gentle peel so you can use it even if you have sensitive skin – though it’s always a good idea to ease products like these into your routine.

You can either apply it as a 15 minute mask, or leave it overnight to amplify the effect of the Vitamin C. Note that Vitamin C tends to stain white bedding so sleep on a dark pillow case when using this.

Exuviance Triple Microdermabrasion Face Polish

R766 for 75g, exuviance.com

This treatment combines a blend of physical, chemical and enzyme exfoliants so that one application delivers instant skin resurfacing. High grade crystals work as a physical polish while papaya enzyme and glycolic acid break down impurities and loosen dead skin cells.

With regular use you should see an improvement in your skin’s texture, a lightening of superficial pigmentation and a clearer complexion.

Apply to wet skin in a light, circular motion (so don’t scrub). Leave for two minutes – or 1 minute on sensitive skin – and rinse thoroughly. You should ease it into your routine at first, and you can then use it up to once or twice a week.


Any questions? Pop them in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.

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