FIRMx Peeling Gel
3.4 fl. oz. for $48
Last Updated:12.31.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

FIRMx Peeling Gel relies on fruit-based enzymes and a novel ingredient known as r-Bacillus licheniformis to peel skin. This ingredient may be a good keratolytic, which is a fancy way of stating that it exfoliates ("peels") keratin, the chief protein in skin, but the only research on this ingredient showing it can do that was on bird feathers (Source: Canadian Journal of Microbiology, March 2005, pages 191–196). So, of course, the next question is: What do bird feathers have to do with our skin? The answer is that the two don't have much in common, so it's a leap of faith to believe that what works to break down feathers will also work to break down dead, dull skin cells!

What about the enzymes this contains? Although those can break up and exfoliate dead skin cells, they are difficult to keep stable in a cosmetic formulation; in fact, in most cases, their activity is reduced simply by virtue of how cosmetics are manufactured. In essence, you'll get more reliable results exfoliating with an AHA or BHA product than with products that depend on enzymes. You can check out our top-rated options on our list of Best Exfoliants.

Otherwise, the manner in which this gel exfoliates is more in line with a topical scrub, only in a weird way. The directions say to apply to skin and then massage in a circular motion to "roll, lift, and sweep away dead cells," and then rinse it off just as you would a scrub. You're directed to leave the concoction on longer for "extra enzymatic action," but, as stated above, assuming those ingredients could remain stable, it's better to leave them on skin rather than rinse them off. In the end, this is more of an overpriced scrub than a state-of-the-art way to peel skin.

  • The scrub action will make skin feel smoother.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Expensive for what amounts to a scrub, not a peel.
  • Cannot "decongest pores" as claimed, and the scrub effect isn't the best for use over blemishes.

Multi-action enzymes (pineapple, pomegranate, keratinase) and cellulose effectively peel and help uncover a smooth, fresh, new complexion without drying, irritating or causing undue stress to skin. Removes impurities and decongests clogged pores for a youthful, radiant look.


Water, Polyethylene Glycol, Cellulose, Butylene Glycol, Sorbitol, R-Bacillus Licheniformis Keratinase, Calcium Alginate, Lactobacillus/ Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Ferment Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Isopropyl Myristate, Mica, Phenoxyethanol.

Brand Overview

Peter Thomas Roth At-A-Glance

Strengths: Provides complete ingredient lists on Web site; most products are fragrance-free; very good AHA products; wide selection of water-soluble cleansers and scrubs; some excellent sunscreens, benzoyl peroxide products, and many antioxidant-rich formulas.

Weaknesses: Can be pricey; some products contain irritants; jar packaging for several products that contain air and light sensitive ingredients.

Unique in the world of spa and salon specialty lines, Peter Thomas Roth is a large but straightforward line with mostly uncomplicated formulations that, for the most part, are quite good and state-of-the-art. Unlike many product lines, most of the acne, AHA, BHA, sunscreen, and moisturizing products contain what they should to be effective and helpful for skin.

A novel aspect of this line is that there are few (if any) nonsense ingredients. Roth products conspicuously lack the exotic, potentially irritating, sensitizing, and often unnecessary plant extracts and the irritating, fragrant plant oils that show up in most pricey skin-care lines, especially spa lines. Many of these are fragrance free, and lack the long lists of complicated ingredients—all great qualities for any skincare brand.

Even more impressive are the well-formulated cleansers, sunscreens, AHA products, and skin lighteners. The moisturizers have improved somewhat, and most are now packaged so that the light- and air-sensitive ingredients remain stable. In fact, Roth's packaging deserves special mention because it is exceptionally utilitarian and gender-friendly.

No pretty pink bottles, sexy curved jars, or bejeweled caps— which reinforces the clinical nature of Peter Thomas Roth. Overall, this line should be admired for its simplicity and, for the most part, for its well-thought-out formulations.

After all that glowing praise, what you should be aware of are the instances of products containing potential irritants (noted in their respective reviews) as well as the products in jar packaging that contain ingredients which are sensitive to air and light.

For more information about Peter Thomas Roth, call (800) PTR-SKIN or visit www.peterthomasroth.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.

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