We're don't disagree. If you don't know what an at-home "facial peel" is, the concept sounds downright terrifying. But calm down, it's not that dramatic. Peel is just another phrase used to describe a more intense exfoliation process, or removing dead skin cells to leave you with a smoother, clearer, and glowy complexion. And if you follow directions and consult with a dermatologist about the types of products that work best on your skin type, you won't encounter the same red, flaky, and painful situation that Samantha Jones did in Sex and the City.
At-home peels utilize chemical exfoliators, or acids, to gently break down dead skin cells that could potentially clog your pores, or contribute to a rough texture. And from pads to masks to liquids, there are a ton of different forms. Best part? You don't have to sacrifice your budget—you can find many for under $30. Here, we rounded up a few that are super affordable and effective.
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1. DR. DENNIS GROSS SKINCARE Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Mini
We've already covered the fact that "peel" is an intimidating word, but these peel pads are so gentle, they're designed for daily use. And thanks to the 1, 2 step system, they couldn't be easier to use. The first step is wiping the acid-soaked pad over your face. Thanks to a mix of ingredients like glycolic, salicylic acid, and malic acid, your pores are cleared out, and dead skin cells are removed from the surface. Then, the second step, which consists of another pad, delivers anti-aging ingredients to your skin, while quickly neutralizing the acid activity. The whole system should take you a total of three minutes—tops!
Dr. Dennis Gross | $17
2. MARIO BADESCU Rolling Cream Peel with A.H.A.
OK, this might be the weirdest peel you ever use. You apply it as you would a face mask, and then wait 60 seconds. Then, you gently massage your face using your fingers, and the mask should break down into pills, which have attached to dead skin cells. The clay, the second ingredient in the lineup, detoxifies and cleanses your skin, while soaking up oils, while the lactic acid gently exfoliates.
Mario Badescu | $18
3. Pixi By Petra Glow Peel Pads
You're going to want to stock pile these pads. Enriched with 20 percent glycolic acid, you get a gentle but incredibly effective exfoliation, which in turn speeds up cellular renewal, and ample hydration, thanks to the refreshing inclusion of rosewater.
Pixi | $22
4. SATURDAY SKIN Rub-A-Dub Refining Peel Gel
Do you know how to use a cleanser? Then you know how to use this peel. Gel based, it applies like any cleanser would, and all you need to do to activate its exfoliating papaya-rich formula is gently massage your face. Rinse with water and you're set.
5. REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask
Ingredient conscious? This mask is made with the power of fruit acids, including those found in passion fruit, lemon, grape, and pineapple, to exfoliate and smooth your skin, while evening out your skin tone in the process.
6. MURAD Hydro-Glow Aqua Peel
This peel gives you an excuse to sheet mask and chill. The first step is swiping a pad, infused with acids to exfoliate, over your skin. Then, you apply a sheet mask pumped with hydrating and soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe, for about 15 minutes to finish off the process. It's also one of the more travel-friendly options.
Murad | $13 for 1 Mask