By Nadine Kam
Congratulations to reader Nina Garett, winner of my Brazilian Peel blog giveaway held in conjunction with Brazilian Peel founder and creator Mac Smith’s appearance at Sephora Jan. 29.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had many questions about the home exfoliation system so it was great to be able to ask Smith all on Sunday afternoon.
Basically, I know of relatively weak 5 and 10 percent glycolic peel products causing some redness and irritation on friends’ skin, and Brazilian Peel offers a 30 percent solution that Smith says is equal to spa formulations, so I wondered how dangerous it could be to put such an active solution in consumers hands.
Of course, that was the concern of the entire industry, hence the weak products, he said. He had to go to Washington to get special approval for the higher concentration from the Personal Care Products Council. Approval is based on safety data dating to 1998. He’s hoping that information will be updated in the next glycolic review to take his findings into account.
In a spa situation, the esthetician can apply a stronger peel because they also follow up with a neutralizer to prevent the acid from irritating the skin, but Smith said that for home use, “You can’t trust the consumer to take the second step.”
So what he’s done is to combine both peel and his patented Q-Mag magnesium-based neutralizer in a precise dual syringe format, so the dosage is equal and application is done in one step. All the consumer needs to do is squirt the two formulas into the palm of the hand, rub them together, apply, wait 10 minutes and rinse. I was a little concerned by the warmth of the two products in my hands, but I didn’t experience a warming or burning sensation on my face when I applied it. (But you have to remember that like I said before, my skin might as well be leather; impervious to any allergen or product hazard.)
After 10 minutes my skin did look brighter, and Smith said with weekly exfoliation, people tend to see fine lines disappearing, a smoother complexion that allows makeup to glide on easier, and with the elimination of the dead skin layer, serums are better able to penetrate the top layers of the skin to do their work. For men, he said, it leaves skin smoother so that shaving is easier and leads to fewer nicks.
Smith said that after two years of sales, he knows of only five incidences in which buyers had trouble with the product, which is lower than incidences associated with a typical moisturizer. In troubleshooting, he said that two of the individuals used the product wrong, which, if you follow the instructions would be really hard to do.
Otherwise, he said, common sense applies. It works on all skin types, he said, but instructs, “Don’t use it if you use Retionol or topical antibiotics. Don’t use it on the same day as another peel.”
Pregnant women might also want to avoid using it.
I’ve been big on exfoliation ever since I learned that skin cells turn over every 28 days, giving you new cells in a month’s time. The problem is when those baby cells don’t have a chance to reach the surface because they’re trapped beneath a gooey matrix of dead, caked up skin. Regular exfoliation removes those dead cells, so your younger, more radiant skin can reveal itself.
“When we’re all 20, there’s no problem with turning over skin, but as we get older, that process needs some help,” said Smith, a chemical engineer for Johnson & Johnson who designed contact lenses and critical care medical devices before he became intrigued by glycolic peels when a friend went through a bad experience, and he wanted to find out why and come up with a solution.
I’m a fan of the Brazilian Peel-style of chemical exfoliation vs. abrasive exfoliation, because unless you use gel-type exfoliants, there’s a lot of grittiness and sharp edges to those abrasives, that can cause more damage than good for those who scrub too hard. I think of it like sanding wood. You’re scratching and causing a lot of damage to the wood, which you can cover up with oils and varnishes later, but skin is not like wood.
One box of four Brazilian Peel applicators is $78 at Sephora, and will last a month with prescribed once weekly use.
Since coming up with his initial Brazilian Peel, he’s come up with Brazilian Peel Clear, with 25 percent glycolic and 1 percent acne-fighting salicylic acid. A $45 kit comes with four weekly peels and 30 pre-moistened pads for a month of daily use. Both products include acai berry oil to help neutralize cell-damaging free radicals, as well. The Amazon acai and sugar-cane derived glycolic acid helped give the product its name.
Pasadena plastic surgeon John Gross serves as Brazilian Peel’s Chief Medical Officer, and, like Smith, also possesses a chemical engineering degree, and is helping to develop new products including active serums that will help with age spots, hydration and offer post-peel protection.
On that note, you should be using SPF products daily to prevent your skin from further sun damage, but it’s even more important to do so after a peel.