The Brazilian Blowout hair straightening service has become the hot trend in the hair-care industry, and now another company (oddly, one based in the United States) has launched an at-home AHA peel named after this South American country.
We’re not sure if the name was chosen to capitalize on the sudden trend for all things Brazilian, but, of course, at-home peels and AHAs in general have nothing to do with Brazil or any other country.
Moreover, it’s not as though Brazilian women have beauty secrets they’re suddenly revealing to the rest of the world. Indeed, the only thing remotely Brazilian about this product is that it includes açai fruit extract, which has antioxidant properties and grows in Brazil. But it also grows in several other South and Central American countries; so much for the name Brazil.
Antioxidants in skin-care products are great, but açai is neither the best nor the most effective; it’s just the antioxidant du jour getting a lot buzz on the Internet, and we’re sure it will soon be replaced by something else.
Beyond açai fruit, the big selling point with Brazilian Peel is that it is stronger than other at-home peels. The company maintains this peel contains 30% glycolic acid, a concentration typically reserved for peels performed by medical professionals. We hope the 30% is not true because that concentration, if not applied and removed correctly, can burn skin.
Brazilian Peel is supposed to be effective and at the same time gentle, because you apply a mineral neutralizer (all things mineral are still popular so they might as well use that trend, too) at the same time, which is timed to stop the AHA from working after 10 minutes. It’s nice that this contains a neutralizer, but water and a cleanser would do the same thing. Depending on your skin type, however, 10 minutes could be too long.
The packaging for this peel is undeniably clinical appearing. Two phases (the glycolic peel and the mineral neutralizer) are housed in separate plastic chambers outfitted with a needle-like applicator tip and plunger. This “dual-syringe” packaging requires you to twist off the needle cap and press the dual plunger so you dispense both phases into your palm in equal measure. As the mixture heats up and begins to feel warm, you’re supposed to apply it to your face (or wherever you’d like to peel) and leave it on for several minutes before rinsing.
The warming sensation is merely a chemical reaction that occurs when the amino acid l-arginine (which is alkaline) interacts with the glycolic acid. It may feel pleasant (some will find it uncomfortably hot), but that has nothing to do with the efficacy of the peel.
In fact, from a Science 101 point of view, mixing the neutralizer with the peel should raise the pH to a level that makes the peel ineffective. But that doesn’t happen, at least not right away. We pH-tested the combined solution and consistently got readings between pH 3.0 and pH 3.2 when it was first mixed, indicating it is efficacious. After a few minutes, the pH began to rise, but not by much. In fact, after 10 minutes (which is the amount of time you’re directed to leave this on your skin), the mixture was still in the range of efficacy, inching close to pH 4, which is still effective for exfoliation.
Assuming the company is telling the truth about the percentage of glycolic acid (30%) in this peel (although we’re still skeptical about that), you’re getting a potent, effective product, but it may be too effective. When used carefully as directed and not more frequently than once every other week or even once a month, this can be an effective peel for sun-damaged, wrinkled skin.
The only issue we have with the company (Advanced Home Actives) is not following FDA guidelines for their ingredient list. According to the company Web site, their Q-Mag neutralizer is a blend of magnesium and aluminum hydroxide, but they list the trade name Magaldrate instead, in an attempt to make these too highly alkaline, unattractive-sounding ingredients sound appealing.
The Brazilian Peel is an intriguing product, and is certainly less expensive than dermatologist peels, although dermatologists can customize and fine-tune a peel to more precisely meet your specific needs. As with any AHA exfoliant, being diligent about protecting your new, younger-looking skin with daily application of sunscreen is essential.