I had been feeling my skin was a bit lackluster lately – dull, uneven in both texture and pigmentation – and I was itching (no pun intended, I’ll get to that later!) to do something to change that. Should I do laser, a peel, or something else I did’t even know about?! I went to my Dermatologist, Dr. Maryann Mikhail at Spring Street Dermatology, and she she suggested I do a VI Peel, something that she was soon planning to do as well. As I had never heard of a VI Peel before, the fact that she was not only recommending it but also doing it on herself, was very reassuring.
Why VI Peel
Both peels and microdermabrasion work to exfoliate (i.e. peel off) layers of the skin which in turn helps improve the skin’s texture, tone, wrinkles, scars and blemishes. And both peels and lasers improve the surface texture and address pigmentation issues (with lasers treating more specific targets such as red and brown spots). However, VI Peel has a quicker downtime, doesn’t hurt and is 3x (or more) less expensive than Fraxel, for instance. VI Peel is a great option if you want a subtle but noticeable overall improvement to your face.
What to Expect
I did this procedure on a Friday morning. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I definitely would have done it on a Thursday morning as the 3rd and 4th days are the worst in terms of peeling. So for me, I was a bit of a freak show on Monday at work! Thankfully I’ve been at my job for 11 years and am comfortable with everyone, though I did feel the need to start every conversation with “I got a peel, that’s why my skin is hanging off my face”! I tell Dr. Mikhail I’ve found a hole in the fashion market – a sweater with “I got a peel” embroidered across the front, a la Lingua Franca. I think I’m seriously on to something here. Hmmmm….
The procedure took less than 30 minutes and was pretty painless. The peel is administered through towelettes containing the active ingredients, which are swiped in sections over the entire face a few times. I found there to be very minimal stinging and I held a fan in front of my face to minimize any discomfort I was having. Upon exiting, I of course post a quick story to Instagram and my face is RED! Looks like I got sunburned/a really bad spray tan! Anything in the name of beauty, right? My face stays this red/burnt orange color for the rest of the day.
Before leaving Dr. Mikhail’s office, she gives me a special kit which contains everything I need to take care of my skin for the next 7 days. This includes detailed instructions on what to do, three more towelettes with peel solution that I will swipe over my face over the next two days, special face wash, an Post Peel Protectant anti-itch cream and a high SPF sunscreen. I’m also advised to pick up Aquaphor which will also help in the moisture department as well as matting down my skin when it’s hanging off my face!
I’m told that for the next 5-6 days I’m not allowed to take steaming showers or do any workout/activity that will cause me to sweat. This is because I’m supposed to allow the skin to fall off naturally and sweating will speed up that process.
4 hours after my procedure I wash my face with the cleanser provided (tepid water and pat dry) and apply the 1st VI Peel towelette per the instruction book. My face burns more from this than from the in-office procedure (where’s my fan?!) and Dr. Mikhail instructs me to apply the Post Peel Protectant even though the instructions only include that step for medium to darker skin tones. This definitely helps.
Per the instructions, I repeat the cleanser-towelette-protectant routine about an hour before bed. The booklet wishes me Sweet Dreams and I fall asleep dreaming of my glowing post-peel face!
I wake up looking great! Like I have the perfect tan. I momentarily wish that my skin was this color naturally but alas today is what Dr. Mikhail calls the “Honeymoon” day. Basically it’s the calm before the storm. I repeat the cleanser-protectant steps only and then apply the sunscreen. The instructions tell me to apply the protectant and sunscreen 2-4 times throughout the day as needed. It says I can wear makeup today but I decide that I’m going to take the week off from wearing makeup altogether and just let my skin do it’s thing. It will get harder to wear face makeup as my skin starts peeling anyway, as the makeup will have nothing to adhere to.
After gentle cleansing I use the last towelette and apply the protectant.
I wake up and immediately check out my skin! I’m still a little red and only just starting to peel. I actually thought I would peel a lot more today than I did (or at least peel more allover as opposed to in just one spot), but I think everyone is different. It definitely increases as the day goes on but it doesn’t stop me from going out and having lunch with my mum! Nothing a big Rag and Bone hat can’t hide;) Going forward, I now only do the two step cleanse/protectant each morning and night. With the protectant and sunscreen I sort of push the product into my face as opposed to rubbing to be sure I’m not pulling off any skin in the process. My skin feels tingly, like it’s burning a bit today, but it’s not unbearable.
I’m mostly only still peeling around my mouth which I’m told is normal because that’s the part of my face that I move the most so it’s natural that that area would start to peel first, and peel the most. It’s Monday and I’m heading back to work today, whether I want to or not! My forehead is still red but not really peeling. As the day goes on however my peeling does get worse. I definitely get a lot of lingering stares from coworkers though not one person says anything unless I mention it first! One person tells me he thought it was just dry skin and I think god help anyone who has dry skin this bad haha!
I think today is actually my most aggressive day in terms of peeling. I’m now peeling all over my face and also feeling a bit itchy. However the new skin is starting to come through from the areas that have already peeled and I’m getting compliments (I think all genuine!) on the clarity of the new skin. Some people tell me that they think I look better with no makeup on as well. It’s funny how different we see ourselves vs. how others see us. I will say that my morning routine is much quicker when I have no makeup to put on and I’m not late to work a single day this week! Just another benefit of the VI Peel haha!
Today I expected to wake up and have the peeling pretty much be done with, but that was not actually the case. I was still noticeably peeling on my cheeks, jawline and forehead. To be clear, it was certainly an improvement from yesterday, but by no means was I completely free from peeling skin! I do think everyone is different though so some may experience less (or maybe even more) peeling than I did. Where the skin has already peeled off, my new skin is visibly brighter and more even compared with the unpeeled areas. Little to no change in peeling throughout the day. I’m still peeling the same amount when I go to bed as when I woke up.
Today is the last day of the special post-VI Peel regimen. I’m actually still peeling a little around my hairline and around my jawbone but otherwise my skin is completely clear. I will continue to peel a little bit in these areas for another day or so. For an event this night I put makeup on for the first time in a week! But I actually don’t even use foundation or tinted moisturizer (because my skin is THAT clear), only a little concealer under my eyes and on the stubborn dark spots that probably require a laser treatment to diminish/eliminate. I must say it’s been quite liberating not wearing makeup every day, not to mention showing the world of Instagram what I look like with no makeup and a peeling face. I love a good filter as much as the next person but it does feel good to be real, raw and exposed for once. And thankfully my filters are never SO filtered that when I don’t use any it doesn’t look like me:)
Today is the first official post-peel day. As mentioned above, I’m still peeling on those outlying areas just a bit. Also, my neck will peel ever so slightly but will be itchy for a few more days.
Do I still have dark spots? Yes. Do I still want to do a laser that will specifically target those (with a laser you can be very precise). Do I still have fine lines? Of course. A VI Peel isn’t going to make miracles happen;) But does my skin have a glow and brightness to it that it didn’t before? Has the pigmentation evened out overall? Has the roughness been sloughed away to reveal noticeably more softer and smoother skin? That would be a resounding YES! And am I happy with the results? That is a YES too!
I can’t believe how unbelievably soft my skin is to the touch. The first day after my peel that I use my own serums and creams and they go on SO smoothly. It’s totally noticeable how improved the texture is. As for how it looks, my skin is just overall so much BRIGHTER! It’s the best way to describe it. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly how it’s different. My spots are a bit lighter but more than that the pigment is more uniform and even. My fine lines and wrinkles just seem less pronounced. People ask me if I changed my hair or what I did differently. It’s the best compliment because it’s a noticeable difference but what exactly changed is imperceptible.
*VI Peel products are only available for purchase through, and can only be administered by, a healthcare professional.
*The cost of this procedure for me was $400 (not sure if that varies from provider to provider). For comparison, Fraxel averages about $1600 in NYC.
*For more information, speak to your Dermatologist or visit the VI Peel website.