A Guide To At-Home Body Peels, As Told By Dermatologists
Remember when an at-home spa day consisted of a face mask, a DIY mani-pedi, and maybe a bubble bath, complete with a lit candle? Today’s self-administered beauty treatments are decidedly more extravagant. You can book an in-home massage through an app, give yourself a spa-level acid facial, and even reach for a portable spray tan machine to get glowing, all in the course of a single #SelfCareSunday. Now, there’s one more treatment to add to your weekend to-do list: an at-home body peel.
Body peels, much like facial peels, rely on chemical exfoliation from ingredients like salicylic, trichloroacetic, lactic, and glycolic acids to improve skin tone and texture from neck to toe. Upon application, these acids break down the bonds between dead skin cells, effectively “peeling” away a layer of dead skin.
“The face is the most common location for chemical peels, but the rest of the body endures similar damage over time,” Dr. Duane Dilworth of DTLA Dermatology in Los Angeles tells The Zoe Report. “Chemical body peels are an effective procedure to help refresh and rejuvenate the skin.” Just think of them as full-body facials.
The skin on your body doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the skin on your face — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little TLC from time to time. Body peels (which you can also book at a spa, if you’re not the do-it-yourself type) can help reduce body acne, wrinkles, and rough patches; or just make you feel significantly smoother and softer.
“At home body peels are becoming popular for the same reason at home facial peels are popular,” Dr. Amy Taub of ADV Dermatology in Chicago says. “To enable exfoliation and renewal, and to make skin look smoother and more radiant.” In addition, these treatments can prevent ingrown hairs and prep the skin for an even application of self-tanner. So how does it work, exactly?
“Chemical peels are categorized by their depth, ranging from light to deep,” Dr. Dilworth explains. “Generally speaking, light chemical peels have the lowest risk of side effects. These include lower percentages of glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and TCA.”
Light chemical peels are categorized as those with an under five percent acid concentration. These low doses may still give you a tingling or burning sensation (which makes sense: You're literally burning off a layer of dead skin with acid), but that's to be expected. Depending on the treatment, the tingling should subside once you wash the product off, but your skin may be sensitive for another day or so.
Mid and deep-level treatments, however, have the potential to leave you with red, sensitive skin for days or even weeks. Dr. Dilworth recommends proceeding with caution when applying peels with higher concentrations of acids.
The main risk with all chemical exfoliators is over-exfoliation. “That could lead to irritation or outright burning and subsequent scarring or infection,” Dr. Taub cautions. To avoid over-exfoliation, don’t perform a chemical peel directly before or after physical exfoliation (like dry brushing or using a body scrub), and don’t layer multiple acid-filled products on top of one another.
Even if you’re used to applying acid exfoliators on your face (looking at you, P50 fans), it’s important to note that the body is a completely different situation. “The skin on the body doesn’t heal as quickly or as well as facial skin," Dr. Taub says. “It could be more susceptible to problems with acids, even in the same concentration as a facial product.”
Those with sensitive skin may want to try natural peels formulated with fruit enzymes (chemicals that break down proteins) instead of harsher acids. These enzymes function in pretty much the same way — loosening bonds between skin cells — but are way gentler, according to Self.
If you do decide to give at-home body peels a go, just remember that the skin takes approximately give to 10 days to heal (even after a low-dose peel). Leave at least two weeks’ time in between treatments, and follow with a generous application of moisturizer and SPF.
Ahead, 12 body peels to level-up your next at-home spa day.
TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel
Is there anything this peel doesn't do? With TCA, lactic acid, and salicylic acid, it tackles everything from acne scars to eczema.
KP Duty High Potency Daily Body Peel
Made with alpha hydroxy acids and ceramides, these daily body peel packets exfoliate while adding moisture — the perfect combination to fight the dry, patchy skin on your arms and legs that sprout up during wintertime.
Green Apple Peel Full Strength Exfoliating Mask
Juice Beauty's AHA peel can be used from head to toe even out skin tone — but the brand warns that those with sensitive skin or rosacea should probably skip this treatment to avoid irritation from the extra-strength enzymes.
Alpha Beta® Extra Strength Daily Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
These glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid-rich pads from Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare will probably become a part of your daily routine. They're just THAT good.
Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Lemon
The acids are the stars of the show, of course — but a dash of lemon extract and vitamin C provide an all-over glow.
Gentle Action Water Peel for Body
This one's a safe bet for anyone with sensitive ski due to the high concentration of water and gentle-yet-effective plant extracts.
Mineral Peel Body
O.R.G.'s natural mineral peel boasts one more benefit: it makes for a closer shave and smooth-as-silk legs (if you're into that).
Correcting Brightening Body Peel
These body peel pads include both exfoliating acids and plant-derived enzymes to double-up on the glow factor.
Made with glycolic acid, this peel set is specifically formulated to treat Keratosis Pilaris (aka: rough bumps often found on the arms and legs).
Clear Zone Body Pads
If you're struggling with body acne, try these Proactiv pads. The salicylic acid inside is a known acne-fighting ingredient, while the glycolic acid can help brighten scars from previous blemishes.
5 Acid Body Peel
Makeup Artist's Choice
5 Acid Body Peel is a crowd favorite for a reason: It's gentle, effective, and affordable.
Body Peel Rejuvenating Moisturizer Serum
With 15 percent alpha hydroxy acid, Cellbone's serum is seriously powerful — so do a patch test on the inside of your elbow before you apply it to your entire body.