We Got A Glycolic Acid Peel And This Is What Happened

At NYC's best spa for facial extractions!

By: Amber

We’re extremely faithful to our whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet. We also stick to our thoughtfully-curated skincare routine, morning and night. Another thing: we don’t use a towel to dry our faces; we use a clean paper towel to avoid distributing bacteria and grossness onto our cleansed face. We never go to bed with makeup and, to top it all off, we perpetually wear our hair away from our face in a topknot just in case.

But we still get acne. *Weapon-grade facepalm.*

If we don’t actively go through intensive preventative measures to keep our pores from clogging with excess sebum, we will have a face covered in pimples within a week’s time. It’s just the way it is. Our problematic skin is not a result of negligence or poor diet, but of genetics, which Gabby, an esthetician from Allure Day Spa (in New York City) confirmed after examining our skin under an intense white ring light. Our skin is just a reminder that sometimes you can do everything right and still not avoid issues, setbacks, confidence blows. Thanks Mom and Dad. 

Why get a facial anyway?

Here’s what set it all off: In addition to having acne-prone skin, our skin is sensitive and very reactive, and while we’ve been aware of how drying benzoyl peroxide can potentially be, we’d still been using it to prevent breakouts (because it was the only thing that actually worked). If you don’t know, it effectively prevents pores from becoming blocked and targets the bacteria that causes breakouts but simultaneously causes (mild) damage your skin by exacerbating hyperpigmentation, generating free radicals, and stripping your skin of its essential oils. This is why we decided to see if we could transition off of it, which, in retrospect, was a horrible idea because, after only one week, we saw an onslaught of pimples that scarred horribly even though we didn’t pick at them at all. By the third week, our skin looked as bad as it had pre-Accutane. It was devastating, to say the least. Lesson here? An oldie, but a goodie: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

With the return of acne, a new game plan was needed, and fast. To be completely honest, we hadn’t done much research into facials nor had we had much experience. Our first facial was a salicylic acid peel from the esthetician at our derm’s office. We got two, both one month apart, after we completed our 8-month Accutane cycle back in college. Since then, we’d been hearing such great things that facials could do to lighten scars so we decided to give a glycolic acid facial a try. Why not?

It’s not as scary as it sounds

If you’re like us, just hearing the word “glycolic” or “acid” when it comes to your skin makes you want to go ostrich and hide your face in the ground. But it’s not as intense as it sounds, promise. At Allure Day Spa, we opted for the Glycolic Smoothing Facial & Glycolic Acid Treatment ($165), which is an “intensive treatment designed to reduce scars, fine lines, and improve hyperpigmentation.” We loved that this one is formulated to improve the skin’s texture by smoothing it. If you’ve experienced acne scars, you know they not only leave dark marks on your skin but also ruin the overall texture because of how damaging inflammation is to the collagen in your skin.

Since this peel is only superficial, there is no downtime, which means you can go in for this facial after work and still go out on a date, for real. The most you’ll see is some redness on your skin immediately after, but it doesn’t last more than an hour. We only saw redness on the areas where we had active pimples and we have pretty sensitive skin. 

Extractions first

When we went into Allure Day Spa, we were right in the midst of our skin’s major freakout. Clogged pores galore, deep hyper-pigmented scars leftover from recent blemishes and some active pimples to boot. Gabby started off by cleansing our skin with a gentle foaming cleanser followed by a boost of oxygen to prep for extractions. The steam was so relaxing and felt amazing on the skin. The actual extraction is a whole different story. When Gabby was done, she even said, “That hurt a lot, didn’t it?”

It’s bearable, but it definitely hurts, so brace yourself, guys, especially when it comes time to work on the pores that are extremely clogged or have an active blemish. The good thing, though, it’s totally worth it. After the facial, most of the pores that felt so gross prior seemed to be cleared out. And that’s the whole point because when your pores are clogged, not only are you likely to break out, but your products won’t be as effective because they can’t penetrate properly. By the way, Gabby recommends extractions every three weeks if you’re dealing with an onslaught of clogged pores.

The actual peel

After she extracted from all the pores she could (there were too many with issues to get them all cleared out), Gabby went on to apply the glycolic acid. It’s like having a mask applied except it tingles. Then burns. Like that itchy burn versus a painful burn. Since we’d just gotten so many extractions, we only left the acid on for about 60 seconds. A custom mask followed, which she left on for about ten minutes while she gave the best shoulder/deltoid/arms/hand massage ever.

To continue the exfoliating benefits of the glycolic acid between sessions, we attempted to use Delarin’s Glycolic Cleanser twice a day, Gaby’s recommendation. However, after about three days of using it only in the morning (figured we should ease it into our routine), our skin started to become extremely irritated and particularly sensitive to the point where moisturizer stung when we applied. Turns outs, using such an active cleanser didn’t vibe with our skin, but it’s definitely effective. You can shop other cruelty-free glycolic cleansers below if you don’t have sensitive skin!

While there were definitely no noticeable immediate results, this glycolic facial was a nice experience and definitely one we want to be consistent with. Best results with chemical peels are after three sessions, minimum. If you’re ever in the city, definitely pop in. The facility is gorgeous and everyone is so sweet.

Have you tried a glycolic or other chemical peel? Let us know in the comments!

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**FTC: This post is not sponsored. No monetary compensation was received for this post, however, product was gifted and service was comped. Opinions are 100% our own, of course. This post also includes affiliate links which help to sustain our publishing activities and helps to cover operating costs, but you are in no way obligated to use them.**

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