Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel review: Will it give me a flawless, poreless, luminous complexion?

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel review: Will it give me a flawless, poreless, luminous complexion?

Like a Virgin

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @philippjelenska
Image: Instagram | @retouchingacademy

In a time before Game of Thrones, HBO's most polarising television series featured four women navigating New York City in a quest for sex, love, and Manolo Blahniks. Yup, that's Sex and the City, alright. Adored by some for its daring (well, in 1998 at least) portrayal of female sexual autonomy, it was equally loathed by others in its depiction of women as men-, shoe- and appearance-obsessed. And while I consider myself a fan, the show imparted some dubious wisdom on my impressionable young self. At 15, I believed that Vogue would feed me more than truffle fries (as if); an emotionally unavailable man would eventually tell me I'm The One (ha); and chemical peels were reserved for those above the age of 40 — and even then it would likely turn my face into beef carpaccio à la Samantha Jones.

Rightfully so, working in the beauty industry has opened my eyes to the reality of this highly misunderstood procedure. Not only are peels (largely) safe, they provide close-to-instantaneous solutions to a variety of skincare woes — especially when it comes to ageing skin in need of rejuvenating, smoothing, and firming. But what about younger skin? Will its effects be just as discernable on me, or will it be ill-suited for my sensitive complexion? We live in a time when cosmetic procedures and aesthetic treatments are widely accepted, but in this case, is it too much, too fast for us young'uns? I set out to explore this in my debut column, which will detail my virgin beauty experiences with the extreme, the outrageous, and the completely crazy the beauty sphere has to offer (see: my time with salmon sperm).

As luck would have it, cult-favourite Dr Dennis Gross Alpha-Beta Peels recently arrived on our shores, making for the perfect opportunity to document my first foray into chemical peels.

What are chemical peels?

Think of it as a potent form of exfoliation. Comprising exfoliants such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), and enzymes derived from natural ingredients, chemical peels work to shed of the thinnest, toppest layer of dead skin. They also stimulate collagen production and boost cellular turnover rate so fresh, new skin emerges immediately after.

What the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel claims to do

There are three peels available: the Ultra Gentle, Universal and the Extra Strength Daily. Each box contains 30 treatments and is intended for daily use. Translation: no danger of melting your face off. Reassured, I decided to try all three over three days , beginning with the Ultra Gentle to ease my skin into this new process, as suggested by the experts of the brand. Specifically formulated for sensitive skin, it contains three gentle acids and soothing botanicals to address uneven skin tones, wrinkles, as well as enlarged pores. I'm instructed to use it after cleansing and to follow up with a serum and moisturiser. Don't forget the SPF if you're trying the peels in the day-time too — there's retinol here, which can increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight.

What the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel actually does

I popped open the box to discover 30 individually packaged sachets clearly designed for hygienic and convenience purposes. No complaints, though I did feel a twinge of guilt for the sheer amount of packaging that goes into these bad boys. The two-step treatment is also clearly labelled to prevent mix-ups, with each sachet containing cotton towelettes drenched in its winning formulations. After a beat of apprehension — and several more scans of the instructions at the back of the box — I ripped open the 'Exfoliate and Smooth' packet and began wiping my jawline with it.

I braced myself for intense stinging... and was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were none. Feeling brave, I proceeded to apply it to the rest of my skin until the pad was dry to touch as instructed. Colour me impressed — though I did catch myself checking my reflection consistently throughout to make sure I didn't spontaneously break out into hives (first impressions die hard, guys). A few quick swipes of the Anti-Ageing Neutralizer two minutes later, I was done. While my skin didn't appear improved immediately after, I did notice a difference the next morning. My face felt softer to touch, and my pores appeared smaller than before.

My experience didn't differ much with the Universal Peel. It was only with the Extra Strength that I experienced stinging — and boy, did it sting. Not to the point where I felt like my face was on fire, but it did feel a little warm. I reached for the Anti-Ageing Neutralizer before the first pad dried out (silently repressing panic the entire time) and was relieved to discover that the sensation did abate with swipes of pad #2. Phew.

Was the short-lived pain worth it, though? Heck yes. Staying true to their promise of radically transformed skin, I woke to the sight of a glowing, luminous complexion. The scattering of hyperpigmentation on my cheeks? Faded into oblivion. Pores? Practically non-existent. And the monster zit on my chin? A shadow of its former self.

The verdict

Is it too soon to say that I'm in love? Perhaps. A week's worth of use later, though, and it's safe to say that I'm a convert. I'm starting to question if I even had good skin before Dr. Dennis Gross' peel. Clear skin alone doesn't cut it, now — especially not when I've had a taste of what a truly healthy, radiant complexion truly looks like. At $135 a box, there's no denying that these coveted peels (Universal Peel is sold out on the Sephora site as we type this) don't come cheap. Considering what they do for skin, I'd say they're well-worth my hard earned money.

Like a Virgin is a bi-weekly column by Beauty Writer, Emily Heng, wherein she documents her first trials in the latest, most buzzy beauty treatments as the youngest member of the Buro. Singapore team.