Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads Review

Reviews, Skin Care
Dr Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads FutureDerm

Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads are like the original Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pad. Around for nearly a decade, Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads contain glycolic acid and lactic acid that refine fine lines and wrinkles, take down oil in the skin, and leave skin smoother to the touch. For more on the science behind this product, read on…

Glycolic Acid

How Glycolic Acid Works FutureDerm Diagram

Glycolic acid is the most common of all the alpha hydroxy acids in skin care products. Used in concentrations 20 to 70% at the dermatologist and up to 10% over the counter, glycolic acid peels exfoliate and 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 collagenTreatment with glycolic acid peels has also been shown to increase expression of Type 1 Collagen mRNA and hyaluronic acid content in the dermis of the skin. Although the percent glycolic acid in the Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peels is not provided, its location on the ingredients list suggests a high concentration (my best guess would be 8-10%, but again, this is only a guess).

Lactic Acid

Glycolic Acid vs. Lactic Acid

The second AHA, lactic acid, is usually used to treat dry skin, not signs of aging. For anti-aging treatments, glycolic acid is usually preferred to lactic acid because it is smaller and penetrates the skin more easily, and also because glycolic acid has been found to increase the thickness and firmness of the skin, but lactic acid does not. At any rate, this product is an excellent source of AHAs.

Which Is Better: Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads or Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads?

Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads

I personally prefer each for different conditions.

Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads are best for aging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and dry skin. The lactic acid in the formulation seals the deal for dry, aging skin — keep in mind the active ingredient in prescription LacHydrin, designed for dry skin, is lactic acid.

On the other hand, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads are best for acne, oily skin, and younger skin. The salicylic acid in that formulation will increase cell turnover and help aid the appearance of all types of acne except cystic acne.

May Not Be Right for Sensitive Skin

This product certainly takes an aggressive approach against wrinkles and rough skin, including not only a high concentration of alpha hydroxy acids, but also retinol. Although the exact concentration of retinol in the product is not provided, based on the ingredients list, my best guess (please note this is only a guess!) would be <0.025%,similar to the level of retinol in Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15 or RoC Anti-Wrinkle Treatment for All Skin Types. Again, however, this is only a guess. :-)

While this is a relatively small amount of retinol compared to other sources on the market (Skinceuticals 0.5 and 1.0 contain 0.5% and 1.0% retinol, while Green Cream Level 6 and 9 contain 0.6% and 1.0% retinol, respectively), this still may upset those with sensitive skin. In fact, dermatologists consulted for the December 2007 issue of Allure magazine recommended alternating use of AHAs with retinol rather than using them together. If you have concerns, talk to your dermatologist about use of this product with your specific skin type.

Antioxidants Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Green Tea


This product also contains a fair concentration of antioxidant vitamin E as tocopheryl acetate, which has been found to have a high antioxidant capacity compared with kinetin, ubiquinone, vitamin C (as L-ascorbic acid) and lipoic acid. Again, not the highest antioxidant capacity in skin care (think CoffeeBerry, green tea, idebenone) but still good. The product also includes vitamin C as sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and a low concentration of antioxidant green tea. I think I’m falling in love…

When Do I Use This Product? What Other Products Should I Use It With?

As with most products, if your skin is red and irritated after use, it is generally advised for you to wait until the symptoms clear and then to try again, gradually building up use of the product to the desired frequency. However, in some cases, a product is not right for your skin, in which case an application of the product never fails to induce redness. As always, if you have concerns, consult your dermatologist.

In addition, I would not use this product during the day because both AHAs and retinol have been found to make the skin more photosensitive, i.e., more susceptible to sun damage. In fact, a study conducted by Tsai et al. found that pre-treatment with 10% glycolic acid caused an increase in UVB sensitivity in white and Asian subjects, and an increase in UVA sensitivity in Asian subjects.

As such, whether used during night or day, this product should definitely be used in conjunction with a broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB sunscreen.

Overall Opinion

One of my all-time favorite products – however, due to its potency (AHAs and retinol) and the need for sunscreen to be used in conjunction with it, I use Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads only once/week at night and before special occasions for a smoother look. A great exfoliating treatment – just be careful if you have sensitive skin, and don’t keep using it if the product irritates your skin.

Product Rating

Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads

9/10 (I wish there weren’t AHAs and retinol, which is a strong combination! At any rate, a superb peel.)

How to Use

Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads suggested usage


Water, Glycolic Acid, Ethoxydiglycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lactate (Lactic Acid), Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Ppg-5-Ceteth-20, Butylene Glycol, Arginine, Linolenic Acid (Vitamin F), Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Retinol (Vitamin A), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D), Alanine, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Salicylic Acid, Caprylic/Capric, Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea.

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  • Liz Abrunia

    You say elsewhere on this site that you should NEVER combine AHAs and retinol, because retinol cancels the effect of AHAS. (link) Here you say this combination is a good thing in this product. Which is true? Can we believe other statements you make on this site? I had previously thought it a very reliable source of information. Now I am not so sure.

  • Hi Nicki
    What is your opinion on phytoceramide supplements?

  • Maria

    Hi Nicki – what do you think of copper peptides with retinol? There’s a product by Neova ( or possibly another similar name) that I liked a lot when I used it, that combined the two, but then I started reading negative comments about copper peptides! Do you think copper peptides are dangerous?

  • Nicki Zevola

    Hi @Robin,

    Those are the instructions on the label. In general, if you leave a glycolic acid product on too long, the other ingredients will dry up or vaporize more quickly than the glycolic acid itself, giving you a much stronger peel than was intended on the label.

    I always recommend following each brand’s instruction. As opposed to the other glycolic peels sold over-the-counter, such as the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel (which is not rinse off), this is, as you said, quite different.

    Hope this helps,

  • Robin

    Eh? Why are you supposed to rinse it off?? Never heart this of any kind of glycolic product I know.

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