At age 51, I am a "chemical-free facial peel" rookie.
When I was in high school, we used to let a concoction of raw egg whites mixed with lemon juice dry on our faces, and then peel the dried goop off in sheets to reveal tighter and fresher looking skin. I tried microdermabrasion very briefly in the early '90s, and I typically use a very mild exfoliating facial scrub twice each week. I have also used facial "masks/masques" on occasion, but it seems there is a whole new classification of products out there called "chemical-free facial peels" which are completely new to me. The chemical-free peels are marketed to increase circulation, brighten skin, exfoliate, reduce poor size, reduce the appearance of fine lines, draw out impurities, and encourage the growth of wrinkle-preventing collagen fibers. Wow! And all this is possible at a reasonable price, performed in the confines of my own bathroom, with no downtime? Who knew?
So when Marta asked me if I wanted to try the Reviva Chemical-Free Light Peel, I started reading about chemical-free peels, and to follow are the "cliff notes". There are hundreds available, and they have a strong fan base. Chemical-free peels work in much the same way that a chemical peel (ie. clinician-applied TCA peel) works, but in a safer, much less dramatic, much less expensive and significantly less invasive manner. Most chemical-free facial peels contain a mildly abrasive exfoliating ingredient (like crushed nuts or nut shells), many contain some type of "clay" which soothes skin while absorbing oils and impurities, and by far the most common "active peeling ingredient" seems to be our friend the papaya (although apple, orange and all acidic fruits can be used), whose job it is to lightly dissolve the top-most (dead) layer of skin. Chemical-free peels can be great for all types of skin types, and facial peels which contain salicylic acid (an antiseptic and sebum buster) are effective for users who have blemishes and/or clogged pores. Chemical-free peels are a highly recommended option for women of color (chemical peels can alter pigmentation... leaving the skin blotchy and uneven looking) and when used regularly prevent skin from appearing "ashy".
I have been using the Reviva Light Peel product twice each week for nearly a month on my face, chest and the backs of my hands, and it does work. My skin is a bit clearer in tone and texture, small freckles and malasma patches are diminished, and my skin couldn't be smoother. That being said, there are a few drawbacks to consider. First, this ain't no mamby pampy feel good beauty mask, It is a REALLY abrasive peel. The directions call for the user to gently apply a thin coating of the product, and leave things alone for 3-5 minutes.
The product goes on rather thickly and has an unusual but not unpleasant smell.... likely the clay. The rough part is the removal.... after the coating has fully dried, it is to be "buffed off" with a dry washcloth or dry cosmetic sponge (vs. removed with water or cleanser). I can tell you from experience that any skin cells which were even considering departing your body in the next few days will come flying off as if you had taken sand paper to them, and your bathroom sink will be littered with scraped off product and sloughed off skin. If any part of your skin is recovering from a blemish, razor burn, or perhaps a scratch, you will be painfully reminded...last week I had a very small (and I thought healed) scratch on my forehead, and the "buffing off" process left me with a tiny new scab.
The first time I used the Reviva product I did so while preparing for work, which was not good thinking on my part. My "buffed" face/chest/hands were bright red, as if sunburned, until lunch time, and my skin felt parched under my makeup. Instead, I now use the peel twice per week, right before bedtime... and I glob on a deep moisturizer afterwards. By morning I have smooth baby soft skin... and all traces of redness are gone. I am also not entirely wild about the high concentration of SD alcohol 40 in the Reviva product. SD Alcohol is a solvent which has been approved by the FDA for use in hair spray, aftershaves, cosmetics and other consumer applications, but it can be quite drying to the skin and can cause issues for sensitive skin. Some people claim SD alcohol can actually damage skin or inhibit it's ability to regenerate, but the jury is still out on that with me. What I do know is that after such a rough peel and buff, my skin didn't need anything even remotely "drying" in nature, it needed a deeply moisture product and high level SPF protection.
Lastly, after reading Marta's great post on the Hayflick Limit I am not anxious to add treatments which are so harsh that they might unnecessarily accelerate the regeneration of new skin cells. I plan to live to be the most attractive 117-year old you have ever met, and since I don't know how many times my skin cells are going to healthfully divide and regenerate, I think I will play it safe while I research this interesting principle a bit more and restrict my usage of the Reviva Chemical Free Light Skin Peel to once a week, at most, for the next 66 years.
If you have had experience with a great (or horrible) chemical-free facial peel, please be sure to share it with everyone by posting a short summary below.
Reviva Chemical-Free Lite Facial Peel Ingredients:
Purified water, SD alcohol 40, crushed almonds, vegetable oil, zinc oxide, kaolin, starch, glycerin, camomile, methylcellulose, salicylic acid, allantoin, papain, methyl & propyl paraben, oil or thyme.