This line’s original Alpha Beta Peel is touted as being the most popular product from Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, and they also offer their Extra Strength version. Regrettably, neither the original nor the Extra Strength version is worth your time or money.
Although both versions contain a blend of AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) plus BHA (salicylic acid), the peel portion (step 1) steeps these exfoliants in a base of irritating alcohol. Alcohol causes free-radical damage, irritation, and dryness, and hurts the skins ability to heal. But even without the alcohol, the pH of 4.7 prevents (OK, severely limits) the AHAs and BHA from functioning as exfoliants (a pH between 3 and 4 is ideal).
Step 2, in both the original and Extra Strength Alpha Beta peels, are pads steeped in a solution of water with baking soda. Because step 2 is alkaline, it neutralizes the acids in step 1. However, you can neutralize any AHA or BHA product with plain tap water—it doesn’t require special pads or a special solution.
It’s a shame that both steps have a strong potential for unnecessary irritation and that they come packaged in jars. It’s even more of a shame for step 2 because it does contain an impressive assortment of anti-aging ingredients, but they won’t remain stable in the jar packaging. This peel is also sold in single-use, individually-wrapped packets. Even though that's great for the stability of the light- and air-sensitive ingredients, it doesn't change the potential irritation from the not-so-good ingredients in this at-home peel.
By the way, as to whether or not the Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel is stronger than the original, it might be, but the company won’t reveal the differences in percentage so all you have to go by is the name. If you’re hoping to fight the signs of aging, this isn’t the way to do it.
This more powerful version of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel provides higher concentrations of Alpha Beta® Acids—plus new anti-aging boosters that deliver a stronger peel without added irritation or recovery time. Especially suited for stubborn skin conditions that have not responded favorably to other anti-aging treatments, this peel diminishes fine lines, reduces pores, and treats breakouts. Regular use can visibly improve dark spots and skin tone. Easy to apply, simply sweep the pre-soaked cotton towelettes across the face according to the two-step system.
Step 1: Purified Water, Alcohol Denatured, Glycolic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Menthyl Lactate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Copper PCA, Zinc PCA, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate.
Step 2: Purified Water, Sodium Bicarbonate, Resveratrol, Retinol, Ascorbic Acid, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Soy Isoflavones, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Copper PCA, Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA, Octoxynol-9, Simethicone, Tetrasodium EDTA Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.
As you may have gleaned from the name, dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross created this skin-care line. Based in New York City, he claims that all of his products provide "maximum results without side effects," a statement any doctor should know better than to make. For instance, a consumer would logically assume, especially coming from a doctor, that "maximum results" means the products in question really will firm, lift, tighten, plump, or peel the skin. But Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare products don't provide maximum results, not in the least, and definitely not in any of the ways suggested by the marketing copy. In fact, although Gross includes some very impressive ingredients in his products, they cannot make good on the most enticing claims he makes for them.
As for the promise of "no side effects," that is easily refuted with a simple overview of his underachieving products. A quick summary: lavender oil can cause skin-cell death, sulfur is extremely irritating and drying to skin, ascorbic acid can be sensitizing, as can retinol, and the synthetic active sunscreen agents he uses can also present their share of problems. That's not to say that all of these ingredients are bad for skin (only the sulfur and lavender oil qualify for that description), but it's foolish to make a blanket statement that your cosmeceutical-type products are free of side effects. How could he possibly know what a person may react to?
Gross also asserts that he uses cutting-edge technology in his products, a point which I concede given the number of superior moisturizers and serums he offers, all of which compete nicely with other well-formulated products. His products are expensive, but if you're going to spend a lot of money on skin-care products, you should be purchasing state-of-the-art formulas, and these do rate. Of course, this technology (read: efficacious ingredients) doesn't extend to every Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare product, but overall this is one line whose formulas have improved considerably since the previous edition of this book, and that is excellent news!
Several of the products in this line contain emu oil. While there is research indicating that emu oil is a good emollient that can help heal skin, it is not that different from other oils that offer the same benefit, such as grape or olive or even mineral oil for that matter (Source: Australasian Journal of Dermatology, August 1996, pages 159–161).
Last, please ignore the tired claim that these products are your alternative to surgical procedures and that they use medical-grade ingredients. Concerning the latter, there is no such thing; Gross uses the same cosmetic and over-the-counter active ingredients found throughout the cosmetics industry. And although his line offers some remarkable products, none of them can provide results equivalent to Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, or laser treatments (and definitely not a face-lift).
Note: Unless mentioned otherwise, all MD Skincare products are fragrance-free.
For more information about Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, call (888) 830-7546 or visit the Web site at www.dgskincare.com.
NOTE: In Spring 2010, MD Skincare became Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare.