31 Days

Day 11

Put Your Best Face Forward

Words by Or Gotham

Men's facial peel

I’ll level with you. The idea of a facial peel is scary. You're not an orange or a banana. You're not a Starburst wrapper, and you certainly are not a scalp in a Hannibal Lecter movie. You are just a guy wondering how to make your skin look a little nicer. Fear not. They're not nearly as perilous as they sound.

Think of chemical peels as a step up from your daily exfoliation. They up the acid content to more effectively loosen the bonds that hold dead skin to our mug. Rather than a few times a week, you'll use this stronger treatment once (maybe twice) a month for congruently more noticeable results.

Men's facial peel

Who would benefit from a peel? Most folks, really. Hearty exfoliation can help anyone who wants to tackle big pores, dark marks and fine lines. Removing the top layer of skin can help reduce the appearance of all three. You'll find that in the days following a peel, your skin just looks brighter. More even.

Two bits of wisdom before I get into recommendations. The first? Avoid any sort of physical exfoliation right before a peel. The sensation would be akin to getting lemon juice in a paper cut, if you can imagine such a thing. So lay off gritty scrubs or shaving the day of a peel. Second, and lastly: even though it's January (and thus, winter here in the northern hemisphere), don't forget SPF. Freshly peeled skin is extra susceptible to UV damage, so play it safe. You didn't do all this work just to get a sunburn, did you?


The Stalwart

Across several websites that sell this product, there are thousands and thousands of reviews that amount to a 4+ star rating. That has to mean something. The gentle formula combines glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids to resurface skin. The metered pumps and creamy, spreadable texture makes this easy for the slough-curious.

T.L.C. Sukari
exfoliating facial,
$28 by Drunk Elephant

The Grease-Buster

If you have oily skin (a lot of dudes do), you could probably play well with this. The gel formulation contains beta-hydroxy acids, which are oil-soluble acids—meaning they can cut through oil in a way that the more common alpha-hydroxy acids (water-soluble acids) cannot.

Skin perfecting exfoliant peel,
$42 by Paula's Choice


The Clean Brand

If you're hyper-conscious about ingredients, may I introduce you to Herbivore's Prism? This gel mask is surprisingly gentle for how effective it is and, as a bonus, contains willow bark-based ingredients that target dark spots that come from zits or ingrown hairs.

Prism exfoliating facial,
$58 by Herbivore

The New School

If you're already an acid pro and are looking for a product you haven't tried before, go ahead and give Ourself a try. It contains 34% glycolic acid, which is on the higher end of percentages you may find in the category. Strong enough that near-instant results (I'm talking tomorrow) are possible, but not so strong that you need a white lab coat to administer it. I suppose you could still wear one, though.

Brightening exfoliating peel,
$110 by Ourself

After Dark

Men's nighttime skin care routine

Just like with other exfoliating products, it’s best to apply a peel at night, ideally with your bedtime regimen. This allows your skin to recover while you sleep.