The only post-summer skin treatment a derm swears by

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After a summer of rooftop lunches, beach days, and lots of UV exposure, many of us are dealing with complexions in need of a reset, and New York-based board-certified dermatologist Elyse Love, MD, FAAD is no exception. “Like most of us, I’m less consistent with my skincare routine in the summer,” she says. “I spend early fall re-evaluating my skincare routine and planning any post-summer procedures, which typically include a chemical peel, plus or minus a series of light lasers.”

The only in-office treatment you’re indulging in this season? A VI Peel, which it says will “quickly say goodbye to summer skin congestion.”

A VI Peel is a professional-grade chemical peel (meaning it must be done by a dermatologist or esthetician) that offers moderate to deep exfoliation to help remove visible signs of skin damage. Its star ingredient is trichloroacetic acid (TCA), known for its ability to stimulate collagen. A 2021 study found that “TCA peels significantly improve sun-damaged facial skin” and can help with a variety of skin concerns, including improving elasticity and hydration and diminishing the appearance of hyperpigmentation and fine lines.

Phenol, the formula’s other active hero, is often used in “deep” peels. It is much more intense than typical alpha-hydroxy acids and works by removing the damaged outer layers of skin to smooth wrinkles and even out severe discoloration. Also in the mix is ​​tretinoin (a prescription-grade retinoid that stimulates cell turnover), vitamin C (to brighten), and salicylic acid (to clear clogged pores).

“In-office chemical peels are great options for a quick skin reset—evening skin texture, unclogging pores, and exfoliating surface pigment,” says Dr. Love. “The VI Peel is one of my favorite chemical peels because it provides substantial results in just one treatment and is safe for all skin types.”

Although the treatment is technically considered “no downtime,” it does tend to cause severe skin peeling for 4-5 days afterward, which is annoying, but serves as a sign that it’s working (just make sure you resist the temptation to choose!). After her own VI Peel, Dr. Love adheres to a gentle skin care routine to allow her complexion to heal. She starts with Avène Micellar Lotion Cleanser ($18) to remove makeup, she uses La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser ($16) for a second cleanse, and moisturizes with La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer ($20).

If Dr. Love feels that your skin needs something more on the rejuvenation front, she will combine your VI Peel with a laser treatment. “The fall, leading up to the holidays, is a great time for laser procedures that stimulate collagen production, providing long-term delays in fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots; but also a short-term glow on the skin,” she says. And when it comes to products, she loves the Avène RetrinAL Advanced Correcting Serum ($78), which contains a powerful over-the-counter retinoid and fights hyperpigmentation while strengthening the skin barrier, and arazloa prescription retinoid that “it helps encourage cell turnover, collagen stimulation, and even pigmentation,” she says.

And after all that? SPF, SPF, SPF, from now until next summer.

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These products are independently selected by our editors. Making a purchase through our links may generate a commission for Well+Good.

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