Allow these innovative at-home peels to do all the heavy lifting for you: removing dead skin cells and revealing the glowing skin beneath. Photo / Supplied

10 At-Home Face Peels To Add To Your Beauty Routine

Banish that dull feeling with use-at-home peels for a fresh face

The word “chemical” can send otherwise sensible people a little potty. Yes, there are harmful chemicals, but given chemicals are the stuff of matter, blanket avoidance in skincare is futile and, frankly, silly. In the area of exfoliation, the anti-chemical tide is turning. Traditional scrubs are often overly abrasive and, as we learned with microbeads, can be environmentally awful. This has put the focus on finding other ways to kickstart skin, by clearing surface layers without destroying the protective acid mantle.

Gentle exfoliants such as jojoba beads are a good place to start, but natural isn’t always nice as Kylie Jenner found when her Insta followers pointed out nut shells she was using in a scrub could be scratchy.

READ: 7 Rich & Creamy Moisturisers For Silky Soft Skin

No wonder then that “chemical” or acid peels have been revisited. Dermatologists have always rated their effect, but some clinics got carried away, piling on product and causing excessive inflammation. Now the main agents used are glycolic (an alpha hydroxy acid from sugar cane) and enzymes derived mostly from fruits.

Enzymes break down proteins to soften skin and help to free-up the outer layers, whereas AHAs (which include lactic and salicylic acids) penetrate more deeply to dissolve bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface, to better allow new cell formation.

READ: Why Vitamin C Is The Hottest Beauty Bag Item For Your Complexion

They can cause tingling and are best used in the evening, or followed with stringent sun protection. Anything that feels like it is “burning” is not a good sign, but over-the-counter doses shouldn’t cause problems, unless you have reactive skin.

It’s a good idea to try a peel in a clinic. The likes of Dermalogica and Ultraceuticals do good ones. You can follow this up with using them at home. They can be applied in liquid form like a toner, or are increasingly sold as pads.

Other options include vitamin C products, or carefully chosen exfoliators, including, as Granny knew, a clean face cloth.

Alpha H Liquid Gold. Photo / Supplied

1. Skinsmiths Overnight Glow $58
This Korean-made leave-on liquid exfoliating treatment combines glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids to brighten and improve skin’s texture by helping to dissolve dead skin cell and unclog pores. An initial slight tingle indicates the active ingredients are working. Dab on 2-3 times a week under moisturiser. The Skinsmiths range has been developed especially for Caci clinics in New Zealand and its expanding range of Skinsmiths clinics in the UK to provide clients with at-home skincare designed to work in sync with treatment programmes. From Caci clinics,

Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pads. Photo / Supplied

2. Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pads $95
This mix of glycolic and salicylic acids is worth trying as a way to reduce bacteria ahead of turning to acne medications. For serious and ongoing breakouts consult a skin specialist. Austin is an American dermatologist and associate clinical professor who is a proponent of using glycolic acid generally to retexturise and rejuvenate skin, including enlarged pores and age spots. These wipe-on pads come in 2 and 5 per cent strengths so you can intensify in steps. From selected department stores or see

Dior Capture Youth Age-Delay Resurfacing Water. Photo / Supplied

3. Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate $100
The latest product from this Hollywood facialist includes soothing aloe among extracts to reduce inflammation risk from the AHA and enzyme blend she champions. It’s a nightly leave-on treatment that’s gentler than the original Exfolikate Intensive, so can be used on more sensitive or blemish-prone skin. Lactic, glycolic and malic acids make up her 10 per cent AHA cocktail with pineapple, papaya and pumpkin yielding their enzymes. See

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. Photo / Supplied

4. L’Oreal Revitalift Laser Renew Anti-Ageing Glycolic Peel Pads $47
After evening cleansing wipe a pre-soaked pad across the face in this good example of L’Oreal bringing what started as a clinical trend to the mass market. Start with the smooth side of the pad for a gentler exfoliation before switching to the textured side as you become used to the potent 9.6 per cent glycolic complex.

Go-To’s Exfoliating Swipeys. Photo / Supplied

5. Alpha H Liquid Gold $64
This tingle-inducing serum has developed quite a following, partly through sales on the Television Shopping Network, but it is now also sold in Sephora and name-checked by glycolic fans worldwide. It lowers the skin’s pH, when applied to face, neck and decolletage, avoiding eyes and lips. Sun-damaged, pigmented skin should see a difference from use every other night, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. As an aside the developer, Michelle Doherty, is an Australian-resident New Zealander.

Kate Somerville Liquid Exfolikate. Photo / Supplied

6. Go-To’s Exfoliating Swipeys $51
This clever Australian brand actually makes its skincare in New Zealand. These single-use pads are an ideal complement, prepping skin with a natural solution including lactic acid that whisks away surface detritus and helps hydrate. They’re vegan as well. See

L’Oreal Revitalift Laser Renew Anti-Ageing Glycolic Peel Pads. Photo / Supplied

7. Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel $150
Developed by a dermatologist, this two-step daily face-peel is designed as a starter kit for those new to using AHAs and BHAs to target fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores and uneven skin texture. Pads from both pottles are applied daily, with enough of each to last a month. See

Pixi Glow Tonic. Photo / Supplied

8. Dior Capture Youth Age-Delay Resurfacing Water $115 
Sounds so much gentler saying “enzyme solution” on the front of the package, than glycolic acid, but this does indeed contain both, so Dior is providing two of the most popular exfoliants. The enzyme appears  to comes from pineapple and there’s an antioxidant iris distillate as well. Suitable for a daily dab, or can be used as a mask, if soaked cotton pads, are left on the face for 10 minutes. From selected department stores.    

Skinsmiths Overnight Glow. Photo / Supplied.

9. Ultraceuticals Ultra Smoothing Pore Refiner $125 
Another exfoliator, this Australian one is in a cream base. Time-released delivery of mandelic acid allows for a gentle exfoliating action to help reduce excess oil and dead cell build-up in the follicle, Combined with salicin, the mandelic acid assists in strengthening the skin’s lattice around the pore to help refine the size of its appearance. From selected salons, see

Ultraceuticals Ultra Smoothing Pore Refiner. Photo / Supplied

10. Pixi Glow Tonic $53
In the 10 years since Pixi was launched in London, it has gained quite the cult following internationally. The range (which includes makeup – it’s founder has an artistry background and a belief that good clean skin is the starting point for anyone wanting to be satisfied with their appearance) has recently become more widely available in New Zealand department stores and pharmacies. It contains 5 per cent glycolic, ginseng and fructose which works on normal to dry, dull and ageing skin. Selected departments stores, including Smith & Caughey’s, some Farmers and Life pharmacy stores.

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