As someone with sensitive skin, “peel” is a word I’m very familiar with.

I always get dry, flaky eczema patches when the seasons change or if I use skincare products with ingredients that set off a reaction.

But for me, the fact that face peels contain chemicals strong enough to slough off a layer of skin is nightmare fuel. Even though in-office face peels can be an effective way to treat hyperpigmentation and acne — my two big skincare struggles  — along with other common issues such as uneven texture and dullness, the benefits don’t outweigh the risk of burning my delicate skin.

Luckily, skincare brands have bottled up the exact same ingredients found in professional chemical peels (like AHAs, BHAs, retinol, and enzymes) and formulated at-home treatments that are just as effective. Since these peels contain the active ingredients in concentrations that are safe to be used by us normies, who aren’t medical professionals, there’s minimal risk of burning or visible skin peeling — even if your skin is sensitive like mine.

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Currently, my favorite at-home treatment is Algenist’s Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel. The exfoliating and resurfacing peel brightens, minimizes dark spots, and smooths skin texture. Algenist’s star ingredient is patented alguronic acid, a wrinkle-fighting ingredient. Vitamin C derived from blue-green algae, exfoliating AHA/BHA/PHA acids, and antioxidant phycocyanin round out the peel’s formula.


To buy: $85;

When you apply it to your skin, whether or not you have sensitive skin like me, expect to feel a little bit of tingling (not pain) while you have the peel slathered on your face. After rinsing it off, my skin is always instantly brighter, smoother, and just “healthy-looking.” Most importantly, I don’t experience any redness or extra sensitivity afterwards. It’s too early to tell whether the peel is doing anything for my old acne scars, but I plan on continuing to use it to find out.

The peel also has a subtle cooling effect that, along with its turquoise color, reminds me of being in the water at the beach on a hot summer afternoon. (Hey, a girl can only dream during a summer of social distancing.)

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Yes, even waterproof mascara.

While at-home chemical peels are less likely to burn your face, there are still a few cardinal rules to follow.

Only use a peel once or twice a week and don’t use any other exfoliating toners, serums, or retinols on those nights. And don’t forget to apply SPF the morning after. (Along with the other six days of the week).

The Splurge is our recurring column dedicated to expensive beauty products that are actually worth it. This week, why we’re rebuying Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel, despite the $85 price tag.

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