While the occasional breakout, even during quarantine, can be a nuisance, it was something that for the most part, I’d managed to keep under control. A few weeks ago, however, my face went absolutely haywire. Between my demanding work schedule, stress of still being in the midst of a pandemic, possibly too much vodka, and not properly cleansing after a long day, I was left with breakouts reminiscent of the ones I used to have in high school. I panicked — which probably didn’t help my skin — and immediately began thinking of anything I could do to resolve the issue immediately. After calling my esthetician and discovering that they didn’t have any openings for the next two weeks, I decided to try an at-home chemical peel.

When I found out that PCA Skin, the creator of the beloved professional PCA Peel — which I’ve loved for years — finally created an at-home friendly formula, I was sold in an instant. My general experience with the professional-grade formula involves active peeling for at least three to four days post-treatment. I’m one of those people that likes to see skin care treatments at work, so I was a little sad to learn that the peeling wouldn’t be as intense with the at-home option. However, I stayed optimistic.

Like any other proper peel, I needed a fresh canvas. So I made sure my skin was clean and toned before applying the peeling solution right before bed. Now, to be clear, applying the product all night isn’t exactly a requirement. However, the product instructions recommend using the peel “at night to rejuvenate skin while you sleep. Leave the treatment on for at least 4 hours before removing it with warm water.” I went for the “while you sleep” option, because why not?

The peel itself comes in a small vile and is a blend of enzymes and AHAs made to brighten, smooth, and exfoliate the skin. The gel-like consistency is applied with a small facial brush provided in the packaging. I applied a generous amount all over the face, avoiding my eye and eyebrow area, and was sure to really coat my problematic chin and jawline. There was a small bit of tingling — as to be expected — and within five minutes, the solution had dried to my skin. I say “dried” because to the touch you can feel the peel is stiffened as it sits on the face. From the moment that I applied it, I could see brightening,[it brightening my skin?] and by the time I woke up, my skin was already visibly brighter, the acne bumps that had broken through were already smaller in size, and my texture felt so much smoother.

Like with any professional peel, the next few days were just as important as the treatment itself. To not interfere with the effects or over-exert my skin, I only used a gentle cleanser and moisturizer for the three days following, something I’ve been advised to do by dermatologists for past post-peels. Over about three to four days, my skin continued to improve as the exfoliation continued. By day four, I was ready to transition back to my regular skin care routine, and a week in, my skin looked more radiant than ever. There wasn’t an acne bump in sight and my hyperpigmentation had faded tremendously.

Given the cold temperatures and occasional over-drying of the skin, I’ve resolved to using this at-home peel every three to four weeks. And while I wouldn’t replace this with a professional treatment — as I mentioned, I love a deeper, medical-grade formula — until I’m ready to get back into the swing of my dermatologist appointments, this is the next best thing.

So if you’re like me, an avid in-office peel lover who’s looking for a solution that’s strong, yet safe to apply yourself, check out my at-home peel regimen that works almost as well as the real thing.

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