One of the best ways to brighten your skin is to incorporate a product with glycolic acid into your skin care regimen. You're probably tired of hearing about my Jan Marini cleanser, but its pH-balanced, 12% glycolic formula has done wonders for me. But even if you don't want to use a glycolic product every day, the occasional one-off treatment can exfoliate dead skin and produce a healthier glow.
After my dinner with Dr. Murad, I went home with a sample of his Intensive Resurfacing Peel ($165). The pricey product contains glycolic and salicylic acids to reveal smoother skin; the formula is contained in 16 separate ampoules to use over a four-week period. But I found that after leaving it on my face for about 10 minutes, I already saw smoother, softer, glowier skin; to make the product last, I get two uses out of each ampoule, which makes the hefty cost a little more justifiable.
Of course, a drugstore version promises to deliver amazing results, too. To find out whether it lives up to the marvy Murad product, read more.
Because it gives me a perverse thrill to find inexpensive products that do the work of pricier ones, I gave L'Oréal's Dermo-Expertise Advanced Revitalift Anti-aging Glycolic Mini Peel Kit ($24.99) a whirl, too. It follows the same concept as the Murad product: Apply the solution to your face, wait about 10 minutes, and rinse. The difference is that L'Oréal's version comes with a neutralizing solution that you pour on a cotton pad, and then you follow it with an included moisturizer.
Really, though, you don't need a special solution to neutralize the glycolic acid in the kit; water works just fine. And when I looked at the ingredient list on that and the moisturizer, I found a lot of water, glycerin, and mineral oil — no great shakes there. All of this wouldn't matter if the glycolic acid improved the look of my skin, but unfortunately, it didn't happen. Although it's a 10% solution, it just doesn't give much exfoliation. For first-time glycolic peelers, this is a gentle introduction to the concept; if you seek a more powerful peel, though, you're bound to be disappointed.
Final verdict: Despite the high price, the Murad peel is a better investment for anyone who's experienced a peel before. L'Oréal's version is a gentle introduction into the world of glycolic peels, but past the first time or two, it won't produce the kind of results you'd hope for.