Product Review: MD Skincare Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel

Skin Care


The peel is also available in a 60-day supply for $125.00.  Photo courtesy

MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel ($75.00 for a thirty-day supply, claims to “improve skin firmness, tone, and texture, Alpha Beta diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, boosts skin density and vitality, and reduce pore size and breakouts.”  To find out why this product is so effective, and my personal evaluation after use, read on.

A high concentration of salicyclic 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. However, according to Dr. Diana Draelos, an associate professor of dermatology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, it cannot measurably reduce pore size, only cleanse the area. Still, according to Mount Kisco, New York dermatologist David E. Bank, M.D.: “The goal is to keep pores clean and at their smallest,” so salicyclic acid is excellent to use to clean the pores. However, salicyclic acid does not actually change pore size; rather, it cleans the pores, which enables them to then be closed after cell turnover is increased, etc.

Glycolic acid in Step 1

Although the concentration of glycolic acid is not provided on the MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel, 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 percent.)   Still, glycolic acid in at-home treatments has still been found to advance desquamation and thinning of the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of the 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.

At these low concentrations, Dr. Leslie Baumann, Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, 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 2% lipoic acid or 10% glycolic acid (a concentration found in at-home treatments) in treating signs of aging.

Green tea in steps 1 and 2

Green tea has been found to be effective as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient in skin care formulations.  In addition, green tea has promise as a treatment against rosacea.  According to Dr. Gary Goldfaden, M.D., “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.” 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 salicyclic acid/glycolic acid peel combination.

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 acidAscorbyl palmitate has also been established as being an effective antioxidiant in microemulsions, according to this study in 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 this 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

MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel contains 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. These findings have been affirmed in this 2005 study in the journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, which further reported that use of soy extract twice daily for two weeks reduced the number of hair follicles (dermal papillae) on the 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.

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.

Personal Use

After trying MD Skincare: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel, I noticed that my skin immediately felt smoother and slightly firmer.  I also noticed that my first application made my skin flake off somewhat, so I wouldn’t recommend using the product for the first time right before a big event (the flakiness makes it harder to apply make-up).  Hours later, my skin had a slight sheen to it, and it feels smoother.

The product is fragrance-free, which is always a bonus.   Although it is recommended for day use, I can’t bring myself to use a peel at night (I am too paranoid about sun damage for that).

A 60-day supply is also available at Sephora for $125.00, so it’s like buy one, get one 33% off if you go this route.  Quite expensive, so if you are already using anti-aging antioxidants and are just looking for an effective peel, the Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads ($45.00, might be a better fit for you.  While Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads do not contain soy isoflavones and have less green tea, they contain seemingly more glycolic acid.  Check out the review here.

As a result…

A great product!   I love it, although if $75.00 for 30 days is too much for you to spend on a peel, you may want to consider Peter Thomas Roth UnWrinkle Peel Pads for $45.00 for 60 days, without soy isoflavones and less green tea, but seemingly more glycolic acid.  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.

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.

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  • Claire

    Just wanted to say thanks for the review! I purchased the MD Skincare Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel last week and should receive them in the mail tomorrow, can’t wait to try them out!
    Also, how would you recommend I change my current regiment of skincare? Since the product is drying by nature, should I take out any of these steps?
    1. M.A.C makeup removing wipes
    2. Murad Essential C Cleanser
    3. Clinique Clarifying Lotion #2
    4. Clinique Moisture Surge Intense skin hydrator

    Also, at which stage do I use the peel pads?

    Thanks for any help you can give!

  • Danielle

    I received a one-time-use sample of this from an order, and my face was red for three days. Was this normal?

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