‘I’m a Dermatologist, and This Is the One In-Office Treatment I’m Doing To Reset My Summer Skin Damage’

African woman doing a cosmetic treatment, having a chemical peel. She is lying with her eyes closed. Close up.
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After a summer of rooftop lunches, beach days, and a whole lot of UV exposure, many of us are dealing with complexions in need of a reset—and NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Elyse Love, MD, FAAD is no exception. “Like most of us, I am less consistent with my skin-care routine in the summer,” she says. “I spend early fall reassessing my skin-care routine and planning any post-summer procedures, which usually includes a chemical peel, plus or minus a light laser series.”

The one in-office treatment she's treating herself to this season? A VI Peel, which she says will "quickly say goodbye to the congestion of summer skin."

Experts In This Article

A VI Peel is a professional-grade chemical peel (meaning it needs to be done at the hands of a derm or aesthetician) that offers moderate-to-deep exfoliation to help rid your skin of visible signs of damage. Its star ingredient is trichloroacetic acid (TCA), which is known for its ability to stimulate collagen. A 2021 study found that "TCA peels significantly improve photodamaged facial skin," and can help with a range of skin concerns including improving elasticity and hydration and diminishing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and fine lines.

Phenol, the formula's other hero active, is often used in "deep" peels. It's much more intense than your typical alpha-hydroxy acids, and works by removing the damaged, outer layers of your skin in order to smooth wrinkles and even out severe discoloration. Also in the mix is tretinoin (a prescription-grade retinoid that stimulates cellular turnover), vitamin C (for brightening), and salicylic acid (for clearing out congested pores).

“In-office chemical peels are great options for a quick reboot of the skin—they even skin texture, unclog pores, and exfoliate superficial pigment,” says Dr. Love. “The VI Peel is one of my favorite chemical peels, because it provides substantial results in as little as one treatment and is safe on all skin types.”

Though the treatment is technically considered "no downtime," it tends to cause severe skin peeling for 4-5 days afterward—which is annoying, but serves as a sign that it's working (just be sure to resist the urge to pick!). After her own VI Peel, Dr. Love sticks to a gentle skin-care routine to allow her complexion to heal. She starts with Avène Micellar Lotion Cleanser ($18) to remove her makeup, uses La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser ($16) for a second cleanse, and hydrates with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer ($20).

If Dr. Love feels like her skin needs a little something more on the resurfacing front, she'll pair her VI Peel with a laser treatment. “Fall, leading up to the holidays, is a great time to perform laser procedures that stimulate collagen production, which provide long-term delays in fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots; but also short-term glow to the skin," she says. And as far as products go, she loves the Avène RetrinAL Advanced Correcting Serum ($78), which contains a potent OTC retinoid and fights hyperpigmentation while strengthening the skin barrier, and Arazlo, a prescription retinoid that "helps to encourage cell turnover, collagen stimulation, and even pigmentation,” she says. 

And after all of that? SPF, SPF, SPF—from now all the way through next summer.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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