‘This No-Downtime ‘Lunchtime’ Facial Peel Left My Skin Feeling Bouncy and Smooth—With No Redness in Sight’

The Sex and the City episode where Samantha gets a chemical peel the day before she has to attend Carrie's book release has become the stuff of skin-care folklore. The treatment leaves Samantha emotionally distraught and bright red in the face right up until the event—which is not exactly the look she was going for. To this day, that image might just be what you picture when someone utters the words “chemical peel.” But, thanks to Dennis Gross, MD, a biochemist and board-certified dermatologist, intense post-peel effects can be a thing of the past. Enter: His lunchtime facial peel, which promises no downtime necessary.

A facial peel is another term for a chemical peel, which is basically the most amped-up exfoliation treatment you can get. Peels use powerful active ingredients to literally peel away the dead surface layer of your skin. And according to Dr. Gross, this process can be a helpful way to address a laundry list of common skin concerns. “Peels are so popular still, to this day, because of how many incredible benefits they give the skin,” says Dr. Gross. “First of all, you immediately get radiance. [A peel can also] help with pores. It helps with breakouts, and then, finally, uneven skin tone.”

“Peels are popular because of how many incredible benefits they give the skin.” —Dennis Gross, MD, dermatologist and biochemist

To experience these perks firsthand, Well+Good director of creative development and host of What the Wellness, Ella Dove, recently visited Dr. Gross's office to give the lunchtime facial peel a go. And (spoiler alert) she left with her skin feeling all sorts of refreshed—no redness or actual peeling in sight. “My skin really is bouncy and smooth,” says Dove, in the episode. “It feels like a new face. I'll take it!”

Experts In This Article
  • Courtney Brooks, Courtney Brooks is the director of aesthetics at Dr. Dennis Gross Dermatology in New York's Upper East Side.
  • Dennis Gross, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

How this 'lunchtime facial peel' delivers all the benefits of a chemical peel without the side effects

Chemical peels typically result in some redness and sensitivity because they may include harsh ingredients, "which can actually hurt the skin, [causing the skin] to lose moisture," says Dr. Gross. By contrast, his alpha beta peel boasts no downtime because it's formulated to stimulate (and not irritate) the skin's moisture barrier, which is your complexion's first line of defense against external elements.

Dove's peel, which took about 30 minutes, was done by Courtney Brooks, the director of aesthetics at Dr. Gross's office. Brooks began with a gentle face wash using a hyaluronic acid-based cleanser, "which removes makeup and debris while simultaneously giving your skin a bit of hydration," she says. Next up was the chemical peel itself, which Brooks applied with her hands before removing it with a cotton ball. Because of the peel’s active exfoliating ingredients, patients will often feel their skin prickle or sting a bit during this step—and Dove certainly did. “It's pretty tingly, I'm not gonna lie,” she says.

According to Brooks, products applied post-peel are especially effective at penetrating the skin, which is why she followed Dove's peel with a calming hyaluronic acid-based mask to help prevent any facial redness. Then, she put on Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum, which she tells Dove “will help protect your pores for the rest of the day.” Finally, she layered on Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol and Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream—which supports the skin's natural collagen production and can help smooth pronounced lines—and two sunscreens (because, truly, sunscreen is one of the most powerful skin-care products).

And before she let Dove walk out the door, Brooks offered her a word of caution regarding after-care: “Today's Tuesday, so I don't want you using any active ingredients until Friday night.” (These can irritate fresh post-peel skin.) Active ingredients include things like retinol, vitamin C, and glycolic acid. Basically, if the ingredient “has a little more excitement to you, it’s off the table for a couple nights,” she tells Dove.

So, what were Dove’s final thoughts on her lunchtime facial peel? “I feel like it was really worth it,” she says. “My skin looks amazing, and now I'm really motivated to go home and continue to maintain all the goodness that was just given to me.”

If you’re still not sold on the idea of a lunchtime facial peel, watch the video above to see how, exactly, it goes down. Or, consider using Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel to DIY a gentler chemical peel at home.

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