These Exfoliating Pads Clear Up My Worst Breakouts Overnight

No, seriously.

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Peter Thomas Roth
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Whenever I get a bad breakout, the first thing I want is for every single blemish to be gone within the next five seconds. Even though we're in 2022, there's sadly still no instant solution for clear skin — but there is one that can help you get there overnight: Peter Thomas Roth's Peptide 21 Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads.

While the brand recommends using the pads one to three times a week, I try to save them for when my skin really needs it — usually around the time my period's on its way and my skin decides to freak out. That said, whenever I feel a breakout brewing, I start by washing my face with Boscia's Clear Complexion Cleanser, then I take one pad and apply the solution all over my face in a circular motion. I typically leave it on for one to three minutes, depending on the severity of my skin at the moment, then rinse with water and carry on with the rest of my nighttime routine as usual, minus any additional exfoliants.

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21® Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads

To buy: $55;

By morning, I always wake up with much clearer, glowing skin — which is exactly why these pads have been a mainstay in my bathroom cabinet since they launched in early 2019.

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What makes this product so effective is its multi-purpose formula, which includes phytic acid, salicylic acid (a key acne-fighting ingredient), and sodium lactate, which all help to exfoliate; along with antioxidants vitamins A and E, as well as chamomile and green tea to help calm and soothe skin. Bonus: It also helps to even out skin tone, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and smooths texture over time.

"Hydroxy acids are useful in treating acne because of their exfoliating and oil removing benefits to keep the pores clear. Phytic acid is a mild alpha hydroxy acid that offers exfoliation benefits to remove dead cells from the surface of the skin. It’s especially useful if you have sensitive skin and cannot tolerate more potent acids," explains Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital and co-founder of Jori Skincare, a line he created with his wife Cori that's dedicated to treating adult acne. "Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that is oil soluble, so it better penetrates into your pores. Sodium lactate is a form of lactic acid that offers ultra gentle exfoliation as well as hydrating benefits. It also acts as a humectant to pull in water to the outer skin layer."

As for the other ingredients, while they may not fight acne directly, they all work together to help heal skin and make it more resilient. "Vitamins A and E offer antioxidant a text to neutralize free radicals damage and common skin inflammation. Vitamin A also helps enhance cell turnover, to prevent cells from sticking together and blocking the pores," Dr. Zeichner continues, adding that he recommends using Jori's Acne & Oil Control Primer as well, which reduces shine, blurs the pores, and treats and prevents breakouts, using 2% salicylic acid. "Chamomile and green tea contain potent polyphenols, which are antioxidants that soothe and protect the skin. They help brighten and even skin tone and reduce inflammation."

When it comes to the Peptide 21 Amino Acid Exfoliating Pads, sure, the price tag may be a little hefty. However, if you're looking for clearer skin overnight, this is the one product you should definitely consider treating yourself to — simply because it works.

The Splurge is our recurring column dedicated to expensive beauty products that are actually worth it. This week, why we're rebuying Peter Thomas Roth's Peptide 21 Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads, despite the $52 price tag.

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