Peel thy Skin, Heal thy Skin: ThisThatBeauty’s Favorite at-home Peels

I am incredibly passionate about skincare. Just take a peek at the innards of my medicine cabinet…. obsess much?

Around age 21, which marked the ceremonious start of my battle against adult acne, I embraced skincare lotions and potions with open arms. I have always taken great pride in the care/management of my skin. After all, skin is the body’s largest organ. While many facets of skincare float my boat and light my fire, two groups of products in particular have made the biggest impact on the quality of my skin.

1) Sunscreen

2) Peels

You all now that sunscreen is an absolute MUST for me. I have written countless blog posts on the importance of a daily stand-alone SPF product. In my opinion, sunscreen protects against a multitude of skin issues like pre-mature creasing, hyperpigmentation, age spots, and uneven tone

The second most important area of skincare, in my opinion, is chemical exfoliation….i.e. chemical peels, alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic peels, etc.

Earlier this year I wrote about my battle with hyperpigmentation and graphically detailed my process for ridding my skin of dark (nearly black) post acne spots. In the post I discussed the importance of at-home chemical exfoliation. Today I will elaborate on this most important step as well as highlight several products that I have used over the course of the year and ABSOLUTELY LOVE.

I have been d-d-dying to write this post for months and share with you the at-home peels in my life that truly!

If you’re not currently including at-home peels in your skincare regime, sister — you are totally missing out! Peels are incredibly effective at improving texture, increasing luminosity, reducing pore size, correcting uneven tone, and restoring skin’s overall brilliance. Even though I embrace a very complete and through skincare regime overall, I strongly feel that the process of chemical exfoliation is what has made the BIGGEST difference in my skin. Without sounding like a narcissist, because believe me I am not, my skin’s texture is incredibly smooth and brilliant…even when I’m battling a breakout. The pimple is there, don’t get me wrong…but the surrounding skin maintains a certain level of smoothness. And quite honestly, the surrounding “smooth” skin is what keeps me from slitting my wrists when I’m dealing with the routine dastardly cystic zits!

Over the last year I have had the pleasure of trying many at-home peels and I am delighted to share with you my faves! Each product mentioned below is ThisThatBeauty tested. I have used each for at least 4-6 weeks and honestly love them all. I whole-heartedly stand by my recommendations. My rationale behind listing several products is this: I wanted to recommend a variety of products based on various skin types, budget, ease of use, and regional availability (I recently had a Canadian follower email me regarding products that I recommend that are not available in her neck of the woods).

So without further ado, here are my current favorite, most effective at-home chemical peels. I hope that you will find a product that suits your skin type and budget.

For those of you (like me) who deal with the occasional acne bout, I very highly recommend Cane + Austin Acne Treatment Pads with 5% Glycolic Acid and 2% Salicylic Acid. This one-step acne/glycolic acid treatment is derived from pure cane sugar, which acts as an exfoliator to gently resurface skin while salicylic acid treats acne. What I love most about this product (and its sister product, Cane + Austin Retexturizing Treatment Pads with 10% Glycolic Acid) is that the treatment is delivered in a single step. With many glycolic treatments, you are required to rinse or use a neutralizer. With Cane + Austin, you simply apply day and night and follow with a moisturizer. Super simple! A 30-day supply is $60.

ThisThatBeauty Tip: When I used this product for 30 days, I used the acne treatment pads during the day and the glycolic ones for night. Admittedly, I tend to overdue it…and I have a very high tolerance for glycolic products. You might choose to start slow with evenings only.

Talk about an unsung hero…I wish this product received more buzz. I first learned of Actifirm Z Peel a couple of NYFW’s ago and it sat in my beauty closet for months before I decided to give it a whirl. If you’ve got three minutes and ActifirmZPeel, you’re well on your way to brighter and smoother skin. Z Peel is marketed as a “smart” peel that targets specific areas and exfoliates only where you need it. If you’re sensitive to glycolicpeels, you might find this product of interest because it is said to mimic nature’s own exfoliation processes and does not cause excessive redness, scaling or irritation. Instead of glycolic, Actifirm Z Peel uses exfoliating enzyme from Japanese mushroom along with 14 additional botanicals. The formula also includes a soothing cocktail of extracted oils from lavender, coriander and Roman chamomile flowers.

ActifirmZ-Peel is sold in two at-home concentrations – 10% for those with sensitive skin and 15% for folks like me who always want MORE MORE MORE. In fact, I totally wish I lived near a licensed professional who does the professional strength Actifirm Z Peels peels (30-60%). I would absolutely do the occasional in-office peel! $66.30

Naturopathica Glycolic Refining Peel - I cannot say enough wonderful things about this product. In just four minutes a night, this potent exfoliating treatment lives up to its claim. It promotes more youthful and radiant looking skin by increasing cellular renewal. The potent alpha hydroxy treatment is balanced with the inclusion of soothing aloe verato cool and calm the skin. This refining peel contains a concentrated blend of five botanical extracts (bilberry, sugar cane, sugar maple, orange, lemon) that contain naturally occurring AHA’s like citric, glycolic, malic and tartaric acids. This one definitely tingles, ladies. The recommend dosage is four minutes per evening. If you’re new to AHA treatments, I highly recommend starting slow with about 1-2 minutes. $68.

For my “go green” girls, try this: jeune d’age organics 5% Glycolic Pumpkin Peel. I have written about this product before, as part of my Hyperpigmentation Series, but could not resist including it in my “fave peels” roundup (in case ya missed it before). jeune d’age organics 5% Glycolic Pumpkin Peel is an excellent product for individuals who prefer organic skincare. Click here for my previous review. Since my review back in May, the brand has launched new packaging! $23.95 *Discontinued*

Get the glow you desire with Votre Vu Nouveau Glow. Through a gentle blend of bergamot, healing bilberry, and AHA loaded citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit and orange, the formula resurfaces skin without irritation. What separates this at-home peel from the other recommendations in this rundown is the use of highly emollient ingredients like Vitamin E, papaya extract and sunflower seed oil….making this peel deeply moisturizing and incredibly soothing. While the product is labeled as safe for all skin types, I imagine that more mature skin types will appreciate the hydrating benefits. $45

Continuing with the trend toward sugar cane derived exfoliants, Bambola Glycolic Sugar Cane Exfoliant is effective at accelerating the removal of dead skin, increasing collagen production, and reducing the appearance of slight facial creasing, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation. This serum also incorporates a balance of smoothing and soothing ingredients…Apple Acid is used to smooth and firm while cucumber nourishes and clarifies. $48

The name says it all. LIERAC Comfort Peel is a 2-in-1 daily moisturizer and face peel treatment. This ultra gentle formula contains time-released glycolic and salicylic acid which leaves skin deeply exfoliated and perfectly hydrated. The slow release of 1% salicylic and 4% glycolic acid optimizes effectiveness, while living up to the product’s claim of “comfort”. No tingling or burning sensations here! $52

Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel is a sure-fire oldie but goodie, and is widely available online and in-store via Sephora. The two-piece kit contains a 2 oz container of Lactic/Salicylic Activating Gel and a small 2 oz tube of Vitamin C/ Peptide Resurfacing Crystals. I love products that have a “participation” element and Philosophy The Microdelivery Peel satisfies. After applying the Resurfacing crystals to dry skin, the activator gel is applied over the crystals. From there a warming sensation takes over and a foam appears…this tells me that the product is going to work to break down the yucky disgusting layer of dead surface skin…and fresh, rejuvenated skin in en route! $65

I hope you’ve enjoyed my run down of my favorite “peels” of the moment. I tried to cover a range of products at different price points that work well for a variety of skin types – acne prone, oily, mature, dry.

Please comment and share your thoughts. Do you see a product that appeals to you? Have you tried any of my recommendations? Was this post over-kill with 8 recommendations? Do you feel there was something for everyone?

Cat got your tongue??? Share!!!


Felicia About Felicia

Felicia Walker Benson is Editor in Chief for ThisThatBeauty and Social Media Beauty Editor at Bergdorf Goodman (her glorious day job!). For Felicia's complete bio, click on the "About Felicia" tab. Follow Felicia on Twitter @ThisThatBeauty

From time to time the good folks from various brands, PR companies, and marketing firms graciously provide product to ThisThatBeauty for editorial consideration. Much appreciated! However, ThisThatBeauty readers can take comfort in knowing that gratis product has never nor will it ever guarantee a mention on my little old blog. Simply put, I write about whatever I darn well please. Thank you very much!

For less sassy verbiage on how products make it to the prestigious pages of ThisThatBeauty, click the tab in the upper right hand corner labeled "Disclosure".


  1. Cadie says:

    Felicia, I couldn’t agree more. I think the thought of “chemical peels” scares many people because they think of harsh in-clinic treatments where you’re red and peeling for days. The at-home chemical peels with ingredients derived from nature are not as harsh, but just as effective. No other product contributes as much to the smooth texture, even tone, and bright complexion I have as the chemical peels do. My personal favorites are the pumpkin peel and fruit fiesta peel from Mychelle Dermaceuticals, but I would love to try some of the ones you’ve mentioned. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Felicia Felicia says:

    @CADIE – THANK YOU FOR THE THOUGHTFUL FEEDBACK. I can no tlive with suncreen and peels!

  3. Kizzy says:

    Great post, Felicia! Thanks for sharing :-) I’m going to save it in my bookmarks!

  4. Felicia Felicia says:

    @Kizzy. Thank you for your input. These are all tried and true so you can’t go wrong!

  5. Redseouls says:

    Felicia thank you for your peel recommendations! I’ve used the Philosophy peel and like it. I think I’m going to try the Votre Vu Nouveau Glow and the Bambola Glycolic Sugar Cane Exfoliant. I’ll let you know how they work out for me.

  6. Felicia Felicia says:

    @Redseouls. Good luck with your pics. They’re all winners in my book!

  7. bonafidelatina says:

    Great post!! Thank you thank you!

    Quick question:
    I can RELATE to you because I too get the occassional cystic breakout here and there and it is very annoying and have also deal w. hyperpigmentation.
    I wanted to know do you still incorporate your dermatologist prescribed meds along w. the regimen above?
    I have Duac Gel for the day (but I actually REALLY dislike it b/c it dries me out so I use sparignly every 2 days) and Tazorac Cream for evening.

    I want to do the peels but not sure what your thoughts are if I’m already using these prescribed creams…thoughts????

  8. Felicia Felicia says:

    @bonafidelatina. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. In my Hyperpigmentation post I say it’s important to control the acne first, then focus on complexion issues. Otherwise, IMHO, youre doing to much. This advice is for major breakouts.

    Now if your acne is in management phase where Its occasional zits here and there (this is me now)….then I suggest alternating acne treatment and peels. If youre not having major breakouts, you can do your acne meficine day or eve …or every other day.

    Obviously, a board certified dermatologist’s advise trumps my two cents:)

  9. Chanel says:

    this was so informative. i didn’t know there were that many at home peels available. thanks for the info!

  10. Felicia Felicia says:

    @affiliatedbeauty. Thank you! Yes, there are many at home peels on the market. These are my favs!

  11. Chloe says:

    Oh goodness… I just found out about this blog! I’m ruined!(said my wallet, lol) I want to wait until I go for my first dermatologist appt in December before getting anything for myself. I am not sure if my skin changed or I just got more self-conscious about some discoloration around my mouth, so I have researched different things and talked to my bikini waxer (who also does facials), but I can’t wait to update my at-home arsenal.

    Off to read all of your other posts, thanks for the very helpful information! That medicine cabinet shows you are a beauty junkie after my own heart

  12. Felicia Felicia says:

    Chloe. Welcome to TTB! Youre gonna love it here:)

  13. Bonafidelatina says:

    Thanks for the advice Felicia!!!

    I’m definitely in the manageable phase of the acne and every now and then a pesky lil one will come out to say hi :/
    But I will try your advice of alternating :)

    Thank you!!!

  14. gemini says:

    Hi Felicia,
    Love this post! I really miss all the great information your sites provides and I’m still waiting for the epic red lip and hair posts.
    I actually just got the Lierac high peel and because you had such a great experience with the comfort peel I’m excited to see the results.

  15. Felicia Felicia says:

    @Gemini. I promise the red lip post is in the works…and the hair storties too. Promise! Please keep me posted on your thoughts on the Lierac peel!

  16. jj says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE post on most effective eye creams for dark circles and best concealers.

  17. Afia Bosompem says:

    Felicia, the information on chemical peels totally reassured me that it is the next thing I should try. I tried one years ago and it didn’t seem to be effective and I think it was because I didn’t do anything else to my skin besides the peel but thanks to your wonderful tips for skin care management, I will be able to manage my skin better after I try the peel again. Thanks Again!!

  18. Afia Bosompem says:

    I am definitely going to try one of these peels. They all seem great. It is going to be hard to choose.

  19. April says:

    Felicia, can you rec a stand alone suncscreen that’ll get the job don’t w/out clogging pores? and that can be layered w/other prods??

    I’d looove to hear back. =)

  20. Felicia Felicia says:

    Hi April: so many good picks on my blog. Search my blog by Mario Badescu and Clarins just to name a couple. Also search SPF.

  21. Gina says:

    Hello, I absolutely love this post. I have been obsessed with my face especially after the birth of my children. Hyperpigmentation has the best of me :( I went to a dermentologist, after using the glycolic pad daily for a week my face is burned :( I will let my face heal and then I am back on it. My black skin was flawless until last year.

  22. Gina says:

    Corrected my email address

  23. danajeanb says:

    Are these peels safe if you use Retin-A-micro?

  24. JaimeBower says:

    Felicia- I feel for you with the cystic acne. I have a girlfriend with a similar condition. Oddly, hers completely disappeared when she stopped eating (all) grains. Have you considered this? I love your blog- btw- I’m a fan of skin care. I grew up in Florida and was always super dark tanned courtesy of baby oil and other tanning methods– so I have hyperpigmentation and as I age my skin looks a little rougher! I will definitely use your recommendations!

  25. JaimeBower says:

    Suggestion- I just cleared my skin (and it’s baby soft) by using apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water as a toner. Use it after you wash your skin, swipe it on with a cotton ball, let it dry—- then moisturize. *magic*

  26. Felicia Felicia says:

    Thanks Jaime. Good luck! SPF like crazy!!

  27. Shamma says:

    Thanks for such an informative post. I got my arsenal of Mario badescu line of goodies yesterday I was wondering if his line does not carry a peel wanted to keep it all in the family if no I’ll glady try one of your suggestions as I read the description they all sound good

  28. Felicia Felicia says:

    Hi Shamma! MB offers a peel as a facial service, but they don;t have an at home one that you can but. They have a “peeling” exfoliator…but not a chemical peel like you’re looking for. But lots of good suggestions in this post and on my IG feed #ttbtip. Good luck!!

  29. ChristinaH says:

    Hi Felicia, I actually got recommended your blog and IG page through my IG friend Shamma. So glad because I have been studying (literally) all of your posts on skincare and adjusting things as needed for my acne oily prone and hyperpigmented skin. It has been about 3 weeks and my neighbor complimented me on my skin looking clearer and not as oily. I am already to the point that I don’t need such a full coverage foundation which is a miracle in itself. Thank you so much for such informative and in depth posts, they are greatly needed and appreciated.

  30. Katy says:

    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about peels and their effectiveness with acne scars, and which ones worked the best for that?

  31. Christene Carr Christene says:

    Hi Katy, Thanks for stopping by.
    Check out the hyperpigmentation post:

  32. Nikisha says:

    Any thoughts on January Labs products? Specifically the Glow and Go power peel exfoliant

  33. Michelle says:

    Hi Felicia.Thank you for a really informative article.I am a makeup artist and I actually learned a lot from it.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erwin Mcken, Michelle Frances. Michelle Frances said: Peel thy Skin, Healthy Skin: ThisThatBeauty's Favorite at-home …: I have always taken great pride in the care/… [...]

  2. [...] Peel thy Skin, Heal thy Skin: ThisThatBeauty’s Favorite at-home Peels: After sun protection, the second most important area of skincare, in my opinion, is proper exfoliation….i.e. chemical peels, alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic peels, etc. This read will empower you with what you need to know to help maintain smooth texture: [...]

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