My Experience with At-Home Exfoliation and Chemical Peels

Ever since I had my first experience with Chemical Exfoliation I’ve been hooked. I’ve taken it upon myself to become educated in skincare, specifically with AHA/BHA and Peptides. There are really amazing things out there that work and the first thing I look at on skincare labels is the Ingredient List.

Here’s a quick little background on different exfoliators:

AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of natural acids found in foods. Alpha hydroxy acids include citric acid (found in citrus fruits), glycolic acid (found in sugar cane), lactic acid(found in sour milk), malic acid (found in apples), tartaric acid (found in grapes), and others. Alpha hydroxy acids seem to work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells. They can also increase the thickness of deeper layers of skin, promoting firmness.

via WebMD

BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid):

There is only one beta hydroxy acid – salicylic acid.Beta hydroxy acid works mainly as an exfoliant. It causes the cells of the epidermis to become “unglued” allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. Beta hydroxy acid is reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after at least 6 months of daily application.

The difference you need to know:

The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid is their lipid (oil) solubility. Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble only, while beta hydroxy acid is lipid (oil) soluble. This means that beta hydroxy acid is able to penetrate into the pore which contains sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells that are built up inside the pore. Because of this difference in properties, beta hydroxy acid is better used on oily skin with blackheads and whiteheads. Alpha hydroxy acids are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem.


Glycolic Acid:

Due to its excellent capability to penetrate skin, glycolic acid finds applications in skin care products, most often as a chemical peel performed by a dermatologist, plastic surgeon or licensed aesthetician in concentrations of 20 to 70% or at-home kits in lower concentrations between 10 and 20%. In addition to concentration, pH also plays a large part in determining the potency of glycolic acid in solution. Physician-strength peels can have a pH as low as 0.6 (strong enough to completely keratolyze the epidermis), while acidities for home peels can be as high as 2.5.[9] Glycolic acid is used to improve the skin’s appearance and texture. It may reduce wrinklesacne scarringhyperpigmentation and improve many other skin conditions, including actinic keratosishyperkeratosis, and seborrheic keratosis. Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the stratum corneum to beexfoliated, exposing live skin cells. Highly purified grades of glycolic acid are commercially available for personal care applications.

via Wikipedia

Now that you are basically an esthetician, here’s my thoughts on my at home 40% glycolic peel!

Warning: I’m not responsible for you hurting yourself with this stuff- if you purchase it read the directions and always do a patch test.

IT’S AMAZING. It’s only to be used every 3 weeks but I’ve been finding little uses for it as well. I started by applying rubbing alcohol all over my face (this was totally terrifying) and letting it air dry. Afterwards I performed a small patch test on my jawline using the acid on a thick Shiseido cotton pad. I left it on for about 90 seconds and while I got a bit red and tingly it didn’t burn. I went ahead and applied the acid all over my face, neck and décolleté and turned on the timer. It said to leave on 3-10 minutes. Even though I’m a bit of a daredevil I set it for 3 minutes. The instructions said to have baking soda in water to restore pH. I didn’t have baking soda (I always buy it and I never know what I do with it?!), so I used my organic coconut oil since it has a pure pH. I had distilled water and a washcloth on standby.

Holy crap this burned so bad. I had my hairdryer on my face on the cool setting the entire time. I first felt it burning around my nasal fold and I should have removed it then as thats where I always get dry patches- it’s just a weird part of my face. I left it on for the entire time breathing lamaze-like. As soon as that timer went off i had that cold wet washcloth on my face. This made it burn even more!! Apparently that is what happens. As soon as I was sure I had the acid off I had my organic coconut oil on. It was immediately soothing. My face looked insane.. (see pics) but the next day the redness had subsided yet I did have exposed skin in my nasal fold from burning it.

2014-02-03 01.11.45 2014-02-03 01.12.11 2014-02-03 01.54.47

I did not pick anything over the course of the next few days. My skin was very dry and felt almost velvety although it looked alright with makeup. By the 5th day my skin was perfection. My dark spots were gone, I didn’t have a single blemish and I was inspired to tell you guys the tale. Everything I used is listed below, exactly where I ordered it from.

NARS Multiaction Hydrating Toner, or Shiseido Eudermine (
Kate Somerville Exfolikate (
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels for face (
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Smoothing Body Towels (
Philosophy Microdelivery Peel (
The PMD (Personal Microdermabrasion) (
40% Glycolic Acid (

Products to have on hand for treatment during after Chemical Peels:
Shiseido Cotton (
Organic Coconut Oil (doing a video on this product- it’s life changing) (
Baking Soda
Distilled Water

Creme de La Mer (Contact me to order)


  1. Based on this post I went ahead and ordered the 30% glycolic peel.. I’m tentative about trying it since it will be my first ever peel, but I definitely feel more confident about it after re-reading this post. I’ll let you know how it goes when I finally take the plunge – I just have to set aside a weekend to not go anyplace the day after..

    I was wondering if you’ve thought about following up with a post about coconut oil? I love using it in cooking but I’m really curious about your opinions on its applications for skin/body care, especially in comparison to conventional beauty products!

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