High Concentration of Salicylic Acid in Step 1
Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble chemical exfoliant that can remove debris from the pore, creating the appearance of skin smoothness.
There is a rumor that salicylic acid can make pores smaller. As I’ve mentioned on the FutureDerm blog before, it is actually a myth that anything can make your pores smaller. You can either swell up the surrounding area with ingredients like alcohol, or cleanse the pores more thoroughly with ingredients like salicylic acid.
Still, according to one of my favorite derms, Dr. David E. Bank: “The goal is to keep pores clean and at their smallest.” This is helpful not only for acne, in which excess sebum and oil encourage P. acnes (acne-causing bacteria) growth, but also in treating fine lines, wrinkles, and skin sagging. One method to treat these conditions is to increase cellular turnover, and this process is made more readily when the skin is well-cleansed and exfoliated, as with salicylic acid. (Yay!)
Glycolic Acid in Step 1
If you or a friend have gotten a peel, chances are, the skin care expert used glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is typically available in at-home treatments in 8 to 15 percent concentrations. (In dermatologist’s offices, glycolic acid peels are available in concentrations up to 70%.)
Still, even the lower concentration of glycolic acid in at-home treatments has been found to advance exfoliation of the top layer of skin. By exfoliating the top layer of the skin, glycolic acid peels smooth the skin, quicken the rate of cell turnover (which is reduced by up to 7% every ten years), decrease small wrinkles and increase the fibroblast proliferation of collagen.
Yet, at home treatments like this one do have their limits. At these low concentrations, Dr. Leslie Baumann notes that the patient should not expect reversal of moderate to severe wrinkling or scarring with at-home treatments. In fact, according to a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study, it was found that 0.05% all-trans-retinoic acid (a retinoid) was more effective than 10% glycolic acid (a concentration found in at-home treatments) in treating signs of aging. So use this product if you are looking for cleaner, fresher skin; use a retinoid if you are looking to treat deep lines and wrinkles. Unless you have rosacea, in which case glycolic acid is generally better for your skin than retinol.
Soothing Green Tea in Step 1
Green tea has been found to be effective as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient in skin care formulations. Verifying this is a 2003 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, which reports that green tea reduces UVB-induced inflammation as measured by double-fold skin swelling. This is also a great ingredient in MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel because it will help reduce some of the inflammation caused by a potent salicylic acid/glycolic acid peel combination.
In addition, green tea has promise as a treatment against rosacea. According to Dr. Gary Goldfaden, “In a recent dermatological comparison study, the use of a lotion containing a tea extract produced a 70% improvement in rosacea compared to use of a lotion containing the base ingredients alone. This tea extract is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and contains a variety of potent flavonoids.”
Vitamin C and Vitamin E in Step 2
Vitamin C is most commonly used as L-ascorbic acid in skin care formulations. However, MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel contains vitamin C as ascorbyl palmitate, a more stable form of vitamin C that is slightly less researched and used than L-ascorbic acid in skin care formulations.
According to a 1987 article in the journal Cancer Research, ascorbyl palmitate was more effective in preventing tumor formation in the mouse than other forms of vitamin C, including L-ascorbic acid. Ascorbyl palmitate has also been established as being an effective antioxidant in microemulsions, according to the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, amongst others.
The combination of vitamin C and vitamin E have been found to synergistically enhance the power of one another, and have been reported by Djerassi et. al. to prevent the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines (although in different forms of C and E). Vitamin C and vitamin E have also been shown in a 1996 study, amongst others, to enhance the photoprotective effects of sunscreen, which is most likely why the product is recommended for morning use.
Soy Isoflavones and Retinol in Step 2
Dr. Dennis Gross MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel Pads also contain soy isoflavones, which are effective anti-aging ingredients. One isoflavone contained in soy is genistein, which has been shown in independent research studies to exhibit both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and to stimulate the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in human fibroblasts cultured in vitro, which together increase the firmness, elasticity, and suppleness of skin.
Finally, it has been reported in this 2000 study in the journal Dermatology that human trials demonstrate lightening of hyperpigmentation after use of soybean extract for two weeks.
Typically, I do not recommend using retinol and glycolic acid together, so I am glad that they are broken into separate steps. Retinol has been demonstrated to increase cell turnover, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smooth the skin, and reduce acne in some patients. However, retinol use is also associated with skin irritation in some patients with sensitive skin, and use of retinol makes your skin more susceptible to sun damage. Because the sun is a major cause of signs of aging, be sure to use this product with daily application of a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen.
Soothing and Hydrating Ingredients in Steps 1 and 2
Step 1 contains a high concentration of soothing chamomile extract, along with anti-inflammatory green tea extract and hydrating lactic acid. Step 2 contains a high concentration of hydrating dimethicone and anti-inflammatory green tea extract, and a low concentration of soothing chamomile. Because glycolic acid peels can be harsh to the skin, the plethora of soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients make this peel a great one.
As a Result…
A great product! I love it. One caveat: Watch out if you have sensitive skin, and talk to your dermatologist if you have concerns before you try this or any other product with AHAs and/or retinol. -Nicki Zevola
Step 1 Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Extract, Citric Acid, Copper PCA, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Glycolic Acid, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Polysorbate-20, Water, Alcohol Denat., Sodium Benzoate, Soy Isoflavones, Genestein, Hamamelis Virginiana, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Zinc PCA.
Step 2 Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Cholecalciferol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phospholipids, Soy Isoflavones, Genestein, Retinol, Copper PCA, Zinc PCA, Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Hydroxide, Diazolidinyl Urea, Tetrasodium EDTA.
Alpha Beta® Refining Step 1: Swipe pad over face, from forehead to neck in semi-circular strokes. Apply evenly until pad feels dry. Wait 2 minutes. Follow with step 2.
Neutralizing System Step 2: Swipe pad over face with the same technique as Step 1. Apply until pad feels dry. Allow skin to dry , then apply Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare moisturizer.
Avoid eye area. If redness or irritation persist, discontinue use and consult a physician.