August 22 2014

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Navigational Tools For Your Next Acid Trip


This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail

I’m interested in exploring chemical peels but am wondering how to go about choosing one that is best for my skin. Are all acids created equal?

I’ve been doing peels forever, and there really is a science and an art to it. I was trained by the inventor of the chemical peel, a guy named Dr. Marinos Petratos, who actually worked with Neostrata to develop peel formulas. There is not one acid that I haven’t used, but I do a different peel depending entirely on what the patient’s issues are. If you’re broken out, there are certain peeling agents like mandelic acid or salicylic acid—some of the more beta-hydroxies—that are very effective. If it’s pigment that’s the issue, you want to go with amino acid derivatives like citric acid, arginine, and arbutin to get a glow and get rid of the dark spots. If it’s really just anti-wrinkle-focused, then I’d opt for a trichloroacetic acid peel.

Then there’s the ultimate all-in-one, glycolic acid, which is always a great first layer, but I usually combine it with one of these other ingredients. The only time I do a glycolic peel alone is if I have someone who doesn’t really have any issues and is just doing maintenance, or if somebody has a lot of plugged pores, not acne per se, but just clogging, because it will take off all of the dead skin.

Dr. Macrene Alexiades is a Harvard-educated dermatologist and scientist with a research center and private practice in New York that focuses on laser and aesthetic dermatology. She is the creator of the cult favorite antiaging skincare line 37 Extreme Actives, which will release a new product in September at Neiman Marcus.

Photo: FPG / Archive Photos / Getty Images

The Doctor Is In