Spa Junkie on… Dermalogica BioSurface Peel

Our reporter turns over a new leaf and tries a botanical alternative to a chemical peel

Image: Jay Yeo

Liberty of London’s Christmas Shop is not the only thing perking me up this month. While in the department store browsing the all-too-tempting beauty area, I discover that Dermalogica has brought out a new botanical facial called BioSurface Peel, designed to bring back a youthful glow without any downtime. It’s billed as a more holistic – and less expensive ­– alternative to chemical peels. These have become a popular way of treating ageing skin, hyperpigmentation and acne, as well as improving skin texture and brightening the complexion, but can often be aggressive and can take several days to show results.

I like the sound of this less harsh alternative, so, with shopping bags in hand, I have a patch test on the skin behind my ear to make sure I’m not allergic and book in for a treatment the next day.

Skin specialist Leila, whose complexion is like porcelain, begins by thoroughly cleansing and degreasing my skin with a product containing salicylic acid. She explains that it is also wonderful for sloughing off dead skin cells, and this will enable the subsequent deeper penetration of ingredients into the dermal layer.

She then applies the BioSurface Peel to my skin with cotton wool. She says that the product she’s using, called Enzyme Active, is packed with gentle, botanical ingredients that deliver skin-brightening pep – papain, protease and pumpkin enzymes rather than the synthetic retinoids found in some medical grade peels.

The lotion is left on my skin for five minutes. Leila asks me how it feels on a scale of one to 10. There’s a slight tingling as the ingredients get to work – but it isn’t unduly uncomfortable. I give it three and a half. This reduces to a one after a few minutes, so the next layer of peel is applied.

This time there’s another product at work – the Acid Active solution, which contains lactic acid and helps to remove debris from follicles in the sebaceous glands and stimulate cell turnover. The prickling intensifies ­to a five. My skin heats up and I start to itch a little bit around my mouth and eyes, but Leila assures me this is all normal. As long as I tell the truth about the level of sensation, I won’t wind up looking like a peeled tomato.


I seem to be taking the peel well, so I go for a third layer – for greater results. As this is my first treatment, however, Leila says she won’t apply more than two or three layers, as my skin needs to adjust.

The sensation soon settles back down to a level one and Leila begins the final phase of the facial – the De-celerator, which is massaged into my face. It feels lovely and cool and is the perfect respite from the tingling of the previous steps. My skin feels as if it is drinking up the creamy lotion. Leila explains that it will halt the exfoliation process with a soothing blend of sodium bicarbonate, yeast extract, cucumber, Japanese green tea, oat and saponaria-leaf extracts. It smells good enough to eat.

I’m given a pack to take away with me, which contains mini products for three days of aftercare. There’s Ultra Calming Cleanser, Barrier Repair, Intensive Moisture Balance, Super Sensitive Shield SPF30 and a Multi-Vitamin Thermafoliant – to buff away any dead skin. With my bag of skincare goodies, I feel like Christmas has come early.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the facial, my skin felt calm. I did wonder if the delicious final step would be enough to temper the effects of the peel… but looking in the mirror, I was thrilled to see my complexion looked hydrated and glowing, my pores were smaller and my skin plumper – with not a hint of tomato. A course of three to six is recommended – I’m tempted.

Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies.


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