Gel Peels Are the Masks That You Can See Working

As in, you can see itty bitty balls of dead skin slough off on your hand

10.24.16
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Hey there. It’s me again, intrepid girl reporter and human onion. Peel the layers off of me (or bathe with me) to reveal my core. Like an onion, it might make you cry. I’ve barfed up this moving metaphor to illustrate that exfoliation is my only hobby, and sometimes it’s more efficacious to slough all the skin off than it is to manually rub micro-diamonds against your face. Welcome gel peels into your world.

Gel peels are the grossest cosmetic in the game, probably grosser than face glosses, and you’re going to love them.

They’re gel-based exfoliators that adhere to dry, clean facial skin. You rub the gel in for one to two minutes, and watch as all your dead skin comes loose and balls up. It’s gentle, and doesn’t hurt at all. Keep rubbing until your skin stops coming loose, as there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your face come off into your hand. This sounds horrible, but like the Halloween post last week, isn’t as scary as it sounds.

A fantastic entry-level gel peel is Nature Republic’s Super Aqua Max Soft Peeling Gel. This is the first gel peel I experimented with, because for $11, the price can’t be beat. Plus, I love going into Nature Republic stores because they have sinks that customers can use free of charge, and my hands usually have barbecue sauce on them.

Another solid-grade gel-plasma is Boscia’s Exfoliating Peel Gel. For all of the gel peels I tried that made the cut, this is the squeakiest. That’s neither a plus nor a minus, just a reality. Also, this gel peel has the signature Boscia floral scent, which brought a lot of memories flooding back. In college, my five roommates and I were all obsessed with the Boscia black mask. We lived in a weird, barrack-like no-locks co-ed bathroom dorm, and did the masking alone in our sinkless bedrooms. Things were easier back then; I understood my place in that small universe. By now, my emotions were raw, but  I had tested a lot of gel exfoliators and my face was raw-er.

The gold standard of American-market gel peels is Aquareveal. I’ve written about Aquareveal for Man Repeller, and I’m proud to continue pledging my allegiance to the product and officially endorse it for president on behalf of this site’s editorial staff. It smells like chlorine and not at all like college, and is more satisfying than anything else. The amount of skin balls removed from one round of Aquareveal is nothing short of astounding. All those little blocked comedones on my cheeks and chin? Completely gone in one single week using this product.

I thought it might be prudent to elucidate this crew with information of a gel peel that’s a little unorthodox. I’m talking the Dr. Jart+ Pore Medic Derma @home Peeling system. This baby’s a two-stepper, and the first step is a hot “thermal crystal” scrub. As you rub this into your face, the crystals get hotter. If that doesn’t sound cool enough, there’s more: the gel element. Right on top of the thermal crystals goes the peeling gel. It bubbles up, leaving you with the feeling that you’ve just dunked your head into a bucket of LaCroix water. LaCroix is very hot on the internet right now, and I thought that image might really sell you. This system also visibly removes skin in the most gratifying way, that is, if you have any skin left on your face after trying seven gel peels over the course of one week.

Claire Carusillo is a freelance and fiction writer in New York. She writes a weekly beauty newsletter offering off-label product usage advice. Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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