Skin Renew Dark Spot Overnight Peel
1.7 fl. oz. for $16.99
Last Updated:12.19.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Labeling this product a peel is misleading because it doesn't contain anything that can "peel" (meaning exfoliate) skin. The tiny amount of salicylic acid (also known as BHA) this contains won't prompt exfoliation, but it contains a high amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which can be helpful for lightening, but not peeling, dark spots. That's where Garnier's "brighter, more even skin tone" claim comes into play.

Ascorbic acid is pure vitamin C, but as an acid it can be irritating. For this reason, many formulators prefer to use other types of vitamin C, such as ascorbyl glucoside or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. These forms of vitamin C are less irritating as well as more stable, so it's win-win for your skin. It's not that ascorbic acid isn't a great ingredient, because it is, it's just that it's not the most gentle form of vitamin C. However, no question, if you're looking for vitamin C for dark spots, this product delivers.

Other than the vitamin C, there isn't anything else in here that is beneficial for skin, and skin care is never as simple as one ingredient. It's also disappointing that the formula contains a high amount of fragrance ingredients known to be irritating (see More Info for details). As mentioned above, ascorbic acid can be irritating on its own, so adding more potential irritants to the mix doesn't make sense. Despite an attractive price, this skin-lightening product isn't preferred to any we recommend on our list of Best Skin-Lightening products.

  • The amount of vitamin C is likely to improve dark spots from sun damage.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Highly fragrant formula poses a risk of irritation.
  • Doesn't contain anything anti-aging other than the vitamin C.
  • Form of vitamin C included can be irritating and is tricky to keep stable.

Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).


Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Overnight Peel fades and reveals smoother, brighter, more even tone skin.


Water, Glycerin, Ascorbic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Potassium Hydroxide, Dimethicone, Sodium Styrene/MA Copolymer, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Carbomer, Citral, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Gentiana Lutea Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Nylon 12, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance

Brand Overview

Garnier Nutritioniste At-A-Glance

Strengths: Interesting and potentially helpful cleansing oil and foundation primer.

Weaknesses: Insufficient UVA protection from some of the sunscreens; average to below average moisturizers and eye creams; mostly irritating cleansers; no effective products for blemish-prone skin; jar packaging.

Debuting with permanent hair dye and then making the segue to a full line of hair-care products emphasizing carefree, casual styles with can't-miss-it colorful packaging has been Garnier's formula for penetrating the U.S. market. Several well-known actresses have had dual roles as spokesperson for Garnier's hair dyes and skin-care products, with splashy ads appearing in magazines and on television commercials.

Unfortunately, this group of products hasn't got much going for it except the lure celebrity spokespeople provide. The amount of fragrance is perhaps forgivable for a French-owned product line, and in most of the Nutritioniste products it's not too intrusive. What is deplorable is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in the sunscreens. A skin-care line has no right to speak about the anti-aging benefits and "breakthrough approach" of its products when they cannot get this fundamental aspect consistently right.

It's also disappointing that some products contain irritating peppermint, which made us wonder whether the dermatologists who consulted for Garnier had any idea of what's good for skin and what isn't. It seems they didn't, because what they ended up with is a mix of pro and con products that make it impossible for consumers to assemble a sensible skin-care routine, not to mention products that make skin-lifting claims most dermatologists would dismiss as cosmetics puffery.

The hook for this line is the way it is said to bring nutrition and dermatology together. The products are "fortified" with antioxidants such as lycopene and nutritional ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins (A and C, never present together in the same product!), and minerals. Garnier wants you to think this is a revolutionary idea, but it isn't—did they also overlook that everyone else, from L'Oreal (Garnier is owned by L'Oreal) to Estee Lauder and Clinique, has been using such ingredients in their products for years? And why consult a nutritionist (as Garnier did) when their training and professional expertise has little to do with application of anything to the skin? The whole scenario proves Garnier was more concerned with creating an attention-getting story for this line rather than formulating truly breakthrough products.

Despite our disdain for the way Garnier's marketing takes precedence over making the products as good as they could be formulary-wise, there are some bright spots. Because Garnier is owned by L'Oreal, it's no surprise to find that there are lots of similarities between the better and worse aspects of L'Oreal's skin care as well as with L'Oreal's department-store sister company Lancome. In some ways, Garnier's formulas best those of both companies by including a greater array of antioxidants and intriguing skin-identical ingredients. The occasional jar packaging choice reduces the effectiveness of some of these products, but other than that, Lancome users should take note of the happy face–rated products in this line. You'll be getting a better product for considerably less money here (though, at least for now, no free gift with purchase—but you can buy Lancome foundations or mascaras instead when gift time comes around).

For more information about Garnier Nutritioniste, call (800) 370-1925 or visit www.garnierusa.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Clogs pores

This product is garbage. Not only does it do absolutely nothing for dark spots or uneven skin tone, this also clogs your pores and creates horrible breakouts. I'm not one to have bad acne, only the occasional, cycle related kind. This "peel" feels gross and sticky for using a less than pea sized amount. I like sleeping with clean skin, not something that feels like I've been working in a sweat shop all day long. It's companion moisturizer is even worse!

Reviewed by
Heather A

I started using it for a week and it started helping. After that week I noticed tiny bumps on my face. After a couple of more days I developed red pimples. My complexion is brown/dark skinned and I hate what it has done to my face. It has made my acne worst and more noticeable. Do not use this if you have sensitive skin you will regret it. It has now been 2-3 weeks since I have used it and the acne is still there. Thanks garnier ! -_-

Reviewed by

I feel I wasted time and money using Garnier dark spot peel and dark spot corrector. There was no peel and absolutely NO fading of Dark spots. Garnier should just stick with hair products.

Reviewed by
Joy J.
wrong product?

I think this product may be mixed up with another product in the same line. This product is advertised as an AHA exfoliant with glycolic acid. Aqua / Water, Alcohol Denat, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Algae / Algae Extract, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Limonene, Linalool, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Parfum / Fragrance.

Reviewed by
Beautypedia Team Response

Thanks for your comment! We will be checking this in-store to confirm and will update the review accordingly.

—Paula's Choice Research Team
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