What Are At-Home Face Peels And How Do They Work?

Put that exfoliator down - DIY face peels are the new beauty heroes solving all your skincare concerns...

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At-home face peels - they conjure up images of sore, puffy skin - pretty wince-inducing to those who aren't in-the-know.

But, since bursting onto the beauty scene, face peels have gained huge traction amongst those on a quest for a better complexion.

Bumps and blemishes? Opt for a DIY peel.

Lines and wrinkles? Yep, there's a peel for that, too.

They might sound like a bit of a faff, but they're really quite simple. When applied to the face, the AHAs or the BHAs in the peels work to exfoliate and lift off the first layer of dull cells and surface grime, revealing healthier, more radiant and all-round much better skin underneath.

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'I'm a big fan of skin peels, which I feel are often underrated,' says Dr, Rabia Malik, holistic aesthetic doctor at Grace Belgravia Medical. 'They have actually been around for centuries so are in fact nothing new, however, with technological advances and enhanced formulations, new generation skin peels are getting better and better.'

What Is The Difference Between AHAs and BHAs?

AHAs, otherwise known as Alpha Hydroxy Acids, are a good solution for rough, dry or ageing skin that's gotten a bit line-marked and wrinkly. Popular types such as Glycolic Acid or Lactic Acid work to refine, plump, smooth the skin's surface, all while encouraging cell turnover.

BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids) are great for those with spot prone skin as they help control oiliness and to minimise the appearance of enlarged or clogged pores, blackheads, blemishes and often, acne. One of the most popular BHAs is Salicylic Acid, which you'll find in a number of cleansers and topical spot treatments.

Shall I Swap Out My Scrub?

While using a scrub to exfoliate can dramatically improve the texture and clarity of your skin, (they are especially great for blackhead sufferers, according to London-based facialist Sophie Ace) they can often be too aggressive, which is where at-home peels come in.

'We can now achieve great results with peels in terms of skin resurfacing with minimal downtime,' says Dr. Rabia. 'Superficial peels used regularly (anywhere from weekly to monthly, depending on their intensity and formulation) deliver the instant radiance today's beauty consumer is looking for.'

Non-abrasive, they only lift off the top layer of your skin, which means they are much gentler on skin in general. That said, if you suffer with sensitive skin, always consult a dermatologist before trying anything new.

'When used correctly in the right way, with the correct acid being chosen for each particular skin type and concern, they deliver great results,' says Dr. Rabia.

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Check out our edit of the best at-home peels and exactly what they do to your skin:

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, £52

Amazing for beginners, Tata Harper's natural BHA resurfacing mask is the ultimate glow-giver. Supercharged with White Willow Extract, it sloughs away dull surface cells to uncover an impressive radiance so you can skip the Insta-filter altogether.

It's also imbued with Beet Extract which ups hydration levels to give the effect of perkier, bouncier skin and packed with aloe vera to soothe and repair.

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Pixi Peel & Polish, £24

Pixi's 5-minute mask doesn't just sit there. A dream team of lactic acid and enzymes work to buff over bumpy, rough patches and to chip away at the almost paste-like mixture of dead skin cells and oil that can lead to blackheads. It'll lend your complexion an airbrushed effect - all sans the dreaded sting.

Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask, £22

This is a favourite amongst beauty editors for the way it speeds up cell turnover - and at a fraction of the price of most retinoids. It takes a mere ten minutes for the myriad of natural ingredients to work their magic when applied to dry skin.

Simply rinse off and marvel over how pillowy your skin is.

Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel, £45

This turns lacklustre skin luminous, all while you catch your Zs. Added retinol works to rev up cell production and glycolic acid makes skin soft, supple and gorgeously glowy. Expect a taut, polished feel with zero sting.

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Mario Badescu Rolling Cream Peel with AHA, £15

Sluggish skin cells don't stand a chance against Mario Badescu's Rolling Cream Peel which marries lactic acid (a gentle BHA) with Peach Extract (a natural AHA). It requires you to rub it off after just one minute, but it's the kind of product that quenches skin all day thanks to the added Vitamin E and Shea Butter.

Algenist Triple Action Micropolish and Peel, £58.50

Brimming with acids, fruit enzymes and gentle microcrystals to help with the polishing process, this ensures not a single dull skin cell is left behind. It's super-speedy and only needs a maximum of five minutes to uncover brighter skin - help it along by using your fingertips to massage it in.

Zelens PHA+ Bio-Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads, £65

Drenched in four different hydroxy acids, Zelens' quick pads blur lines, dark spots and send enlarged pores into submission. Just don't be confused by the PHA part. These acids are really similar to AHAs but have a higher molecular structure which slows down the rate at which they penetrate the skin, making them perfect for those who have issues with sensitivity.

Time Bomb Throwback Thursday Overnight Peel and Reveal, £48

Time Bomb's peel and reveal duo will give you skin so soft you'll want to keep touching it throughout the day. Before your head hits the pillow, simply smooth the clear, gel-like peel over a clean face until absorbed. Don't be alarmed by the slight stinging sensation - it passes, promise!

When you wake up in the morning, dampen your face and polish away all traces of lifeless skin using the gentle dermabrasion cream, et voila.

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