Ever since someone used the word “micro tears' to describe the adverse effects of grainy physical exfoliants, I've treated my face like that of a newborn babe, my cheeks like overfilled balloons ready to pop at the slightest stroke of a microbead. For my body, though: almond scrubs, Velcro-textured washcloths, fine-grit sandpaper, grill brushes—anything that might in theory be effective in scraping off the uppermost layer of my dermis to uncover glowing, unblemished skin beneath. Pain is progress, although I hadn't seen much progress since my first jar of salt scrub 13 years ago. Then I read that you could buy acid peels online. Acid! The most diabolical-sounding exfoliation method I’d yet to try. Why slough off the dead skin and various bumps and scars when you can annihilate them?
I did some research and decided to order the 5 Acid Body Peel from Makeup Artist’s Choice. Sephora doesn’t sell anything peel-related for the body, and there’s something about the risk of ordering a product like a chemical peel online from a brand you know nothing about that adds to the excitement. In my mind it could either be a complete miracle or a full nuclear disaster. But experimentation is what body skin is for! Plus Makeup Artist’s Choice is as legitimate as you’d hope that a DIY chemical peel site would be—third-party accreditations sprinkled throughout (Doctor verified! Better Business Bureau approved! FDA regulated! 10 stars, would buy again!), and the same random graphic design elements of any credible medical practice’s website.
The five acids are lactic, glycolic, mandelic, citric, and salicylic—and they’ve also included licorice root extract for its skin tone-evening effects. The consistency is like a thick serum, and it’s meant to be applied using your hands on clean, dry skin which is a slight annoyance, as you have to shower, apply the peel, wait five to 10 minutes, and shower again. I patch-tested first. There was no actual peeling, which was both a relief and disappointment, but no stinging or redness either, so I gave myself the green light to smear the stuff all over my back, arms, thighs, and upper thighs (butt, OK?). I itched, but the uncomfortableness was a 2 on a 1-10 scale and only lasted for the first couple of minutes of marinating. Then I rinsed in the shower and followed with moisturizer, as directed.
I’ve been using the 5 Acid Body Peel for eight weeks now and am very pleased with the stuff and mostly myself. What would have been a very satisfying peeling action never came, but I’ve realized that violent exfoliation is never the answer—for face or body. Instead, the peel gently coddles the dead skin cells away, kindly ushering them down the shower drain during the rinse cycle. The results are not immediately drastic, but I did notice softer, smoother skin after the first two uses. With continued use, the bumps on my upper arms (keratosis pilaris, very common, more than 3 million cases a year in the US alone, not ashamed) are no more. Scars and unevenness have faded, I haven’t broken out, and my entire body skin now constantly feels like freshly shaved legs under clean sheets. I look better naked.
Photo by ITG.