The Best Gentle Facial Peels For Soft, Glowing Skin
The Best Gentle Facial Peels For Soft, Glowing Skin

The Best Gentle Facial Peels For Soft, Glowing Skin

Facial peels might sound like something best left to the professionals, but there are plenty of gentle and affordable options you can try at home. They won’t give you quite the same results as a trip to the clinic, but the best ones can help with everything from acne and hyperpigmentation to scarring, and will also give you a fresh, healthy glow. Here are eight of our favourites.
By Rebecca Hull
Image: ALPHA-H

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.


AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, £8.40 | The Ordinary

This cult peeling solution shot to fame in the wake of several before- and after-videos showing just how well it improved the look of old acne scarring. The brand has now sold more than 100,000 bottles and it continues to be a bestseller. Brimming with exfoliating AHAs and BHAs, it penetrates the skin to remove dead cells and bacteria for a brighter, more even glow. It’s strong, though, so use it with caution and build up your tolerance. Start by incorporating it into your regime once a week, then gradually increase your usage if needed. Despite its potency, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 help to keep the skin calm and reduce inflammation.

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Paula's Choice 2% BHA Exfoliant, £35 | Paula’s Choice

There’s a reason this liquid exfoliant receives such high praise. Thanks to salicylic acid, the fluid-like formula gets down deep into the dermis to remove dead skin cells swiftly, while its anti-inflammatory properties reduce breakouts, blackheads and whiteheads for a clearer complexion. Despite its potent ingredients, it’s gentle enough to be used daily post-cleanse. Sweep it over the entire face, including the eye area, for the most radiant results. You can use it on the body too.

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Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Gel 10%, £25 | Naturium

Don’t be intimidated by the percentage of the acids inside this resurfacing gel. Containing a blend of 10% glycolic and fruit acids, it works to exfoliate the top layers of your skin but without drying it out or causing any aggravation. It’s a great option for those with sensitivities – not least because it’s fragrance and paraben-free. Like others on this list, a little goes a long way to making your skin smoother, softer and clearer. You’ll find your complexion glows in a way it didn’t before and issues like dark spots and little pimples will become reduced in size. Build up your usage gradually and apply it only once a day, extending it down to your neck and chest for extra skin-smoothing benefits.

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Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Revitalizing Mask, £29 | Elizabeth Arden

This popular mask is full of gentle exfoliators – including glycolic and salicylic acid – to break down dry flakes of skin and resurface uneven tone. There’s added aloe vera inside, too, as well as a mix of botanicals to keep inflammation at bay and hydration levels high. The jelly-like texture is so satisfying to apply – a little goes a long way – and even better when you peel it off and see some dirt and grime lift. You’ll find skin is suppler and notice that it feels far softer too. Unlike some physical peels, it’s never painful to use. Just be prepared for a slightly messy process – we recommend applying it while you shower and letting it settle as you shampoo your hair.

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Papaya Enzyme Peel, £36 | Elemis

If you want to avoid traditional chemical peel acids, look to this one from Elemis, which uses papaya enzymes instead. Called ‘papain’, these enzymes work to break down proteins within the skin that keep complexion-dulling skin cells from hanging on. There’s also a hefty dose of vitamin E and seaweed actives inside to keep skin quenched and nourished. Apply a thin layer to freshly cleansed skin, leave on for 15-20 minutes then rinse away with warm water. You’ll see skin has a bouncier quality with renewed softness and a smoother texture to boot. It’s ideal for clearing up smaller breakouts too.

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Pore Remedy 5% Multi-Acid Radiance Peel, £32 | Dr.Jart+

Often sold out, this peel is popular for its ability to yield results at speed. It clears even the most stubborn blackheads and under-the-skin bumps, thanks to a cocktail of exfoliating AHA and BHAs. There’s added hyaluronic acid, too, which keeps moisture levels high to cushion any irritation. Just a small amount swept over freshly cleansed skin will overhaul your complexion and give it a smoother, brighter appearance from the get-go. You’ll also find that anything you use after this absorbs more easily and settles nicely into the skin – including make-up.

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Liquid Peelfoliant, £65 | Dermalogica

Described as both gentle and powerful, this new liquid peel is full of proven-to-work acids – from glycolic to lactic and salicylic acid. It works hard to dissolve dead skin cells to renew glow and rid dullness. A serum-like formula, it’s surprisingly gentle and ideal for all skin types – even those prone to sensitivities. You can even use it daily – though we recommend starting with two to three days a week initially. Within just a few uses, you can expect to see a more even tone, better suppleness and enhanced softness. It’s particularly good at diffusing the appearance of hyperpigmentation over time.

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Liquid Gold With 5% Glycolic Acid, £43 | Alpha - H

It’s all in the formula with this one, which blends together three key potent ingredients for clear and healthy skin. Glycolic acid buffs and retexturises the skin, while glycerin helps it feel nourished and moisturised. Finally, liquorice root soothes sensitive skin and is rich in antioxidants, offering a multitude of benefits including defence against external aggressors. Apply this overnight and let it settle for brighter, fresher-looking skin come morning.

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