How I Overcame My Fear of Face Peels

I have always had a legitimate phobia of face peels. Just the word “peel” alone in this particular context makes me shudder—I mean, the main ingredient is usually acid. It conjures up red, splotchy burned skin that strips off, Mission Impossible-style.

My fear is, of course, completely unfounded. Not only have I never tried a peel, many of the formulas—especially those you can do at home—have been refined to be gentle to even the most delicate skin. This doesn’t make me any less terrified, but the prospect of getting brighter, silkier, less wrinkled skin in a few minutes is too great (hey, sometimes vanity trumps anxiety).

Before I face any skincare challenge, I do my research. Of all the brands out there, I feel the least afraid of Juice Beauty: The company swears by certified organic ingredients, steering clear of scary chemicals that can lead to irritation. Their Green Apple Peel Full Strength is powered by alpha hydroxyl acids from organic fruits and beta ones like salicylic acid from willow bark, which brighten and firm skin. It also relies on grapeseed-derived resveratrol to fight free radical damage and vitamin A to smooth fine lines.

Still petrified, I take an “exposure therapy” approach: first I tentatively test the creamy gel on my hand. No reaction. Next, I apply a thin layer to a patch on my cheek and let it sit for a few minutes, waiting for the flames. I feel a slight tingling and when I rinse, it’s a little pink—but insanely smooth. Emboldened, I go for it, swiping it from my forehead down to my neck. I pace my apartment for ten minutes, which feels like an eternity.

When I first wash it off, I panic—my skin has a pink tinge and is a bit blotchy (a totally normal reaction after the acids do their job). But that quickly fades, and my face instantly feels more even and velvety than it ever has before. I can’t believe I let my phobia keep me from this buffed complexion for so long—apparently the only thing to fear about face peels is missing out on amazing skin.

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