Housed in a very sleek cardboard package are seven tiny vials of an AHA exfoliant, in varying strengths. The claim for this at-home peel is that you apply the contents of one vial each night (rather than your regular exfoliant—assuming you have one in your daily routine) and in a week's time you'll see smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin. The convoluted application isn't necessary to get these results from a great AHA or BHA product, and in this case you will end up with more problems than benefits.
The formula in the Day 1 vial is supposedly the weakest, Day 2 through Day 4 vials are somewhat stronger, and the Day 5 through Day 7 vials are the most important – the idea being that this allows your skin to build a tolerance to the formula day by day. Again, this type of application (and the ridiculous cost) isn't necessary, but the main problem is that using this system for a week exposes your skin not only to the irritation that might be caused by the AHA, but also to other irritating ingredients. This product is in no way the equivalent of an AHA peel a dermatologist can provide, and is easily replaced by superior (and less expensive) options on our list of Best AHA Exfoliants.
The chief irritating ingredient in some of these vials is alcohol; it's not present in the Days 2, 3, and 4 formulas, but is present in the Days 1, 6, and 7 formulas. The latter also include the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate, which will cause a tingling sensation when you apply it. That tingling isn't a sign these peels are stronger; it's a sign that the menthyl lactate is irritating your skin. This is insane to us! Why anyone would add absolutely useless, nonbeneficial, irritating ingredients to an AHA exfoliant is beyond us. This is bad skin care, from any angle. See More Info to learn why alcohol in skin-care products is a problem.
In terms of exfoliation, each day's formula is within the correct pH range for the AHA glycolic acid (and, in the case of Days 1, 5, 6, and 7, the BHA salicylic acid) to exfoliate. Despite the fact that the formula for Days 5–7 is supposed to be stronger, it has a higher pH (thus making the AHA and BHA less effective). Although the AHA glycolic acid is listed second or third on the ingredient list in each day's vial, the company doesn't reveal how much you're getting, so you're left to guess, something we never encourage with ingredients like this.
It's absolutely true that exfoliating with an AHA or BHA product will lead to smoother, firmer, more even toned, and, yes, brighter-looking skin, but this at-home peel is more gimmicky and potentially more problematic than useful. You can achieve better results from leave-on exfoliants don't include the irritating ingredients!
- Each vial appears to contain an effective amount of the AHA glycolic acid.
- Each vial's formula is at a pH level that allows the AHA ingredient to exfoliate.
- Ridiculously overpriced for what you get.
- Several of the formulas contain a potentially irritating amount of alcohol.
- The formula for Days 5–7 contains the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate.
- Not as intensive as, nor are the results equivalent to, those from a professional, in-office AHA peel.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).