One of the products that was recommended to me during my Sephora mini-facial was Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. My skin felt slightly irritated, but my mini facialist assured me that it was a great way to smooth out my acne scars. Of course, when I got home, I looked up the price of this product and was pretty shocked—$88 for 35 treatments? No thanks. However, the price isn’t actually that bad, since you don’t have to use it every day (my mini-facialist recommended using it just once a day, a few times a week).
Plus, each “treatment” includes two “peel pads”:
- the first peel pad includes glycolic acid and a few other acids that help serve as chemical exfoliators (the first step in the treatment)
- the second peel pad is designed to brighten the skin with vitamin C, and provide anti-aging benefits with retinol and other ingredients
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Ingredients
water, alcohol denat. (sd alcohol 40-b), glycolic acid, potassium hydroxide, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) water, salicylic acid, polysorbate 20, citric acid, lactic acid, malic acid, camellia sinensis leaf extract, achillea millefolium extract, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower extract, soy isoflavones, copper pca, zinc pca, lecithin, disodium edta, alcohol, polysorbate 80, fragrance, linalool, benzyl salicylate, benzoic acid, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate
Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads Ingredients
water, glycolic acid, sodium hydroxide, methyl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer, glycerin hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) water, calendula officinalis flower extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) flower water, tocopheryl acetate, butylene glycol, lauryl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer, xanthan gum, benzoic acid, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin
Upon taking a look at these ingredients, it almost looks like Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads will be less irritating because they don’t contain alcohol. Like many other personal care products, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel includes denatured alcohol—but it also contains alcohol and fragrance. While the Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads only contain glycolic acid, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel includes a few types of acids: glycolic acid, salicylic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid. This may or may not improve the efficacy of the product.
My dad the chemist’s ingredient comparison: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel vs. CVS Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads
I sent my dad these two ingredient lists and asked him what he thought, as well as whether or not either of the lists included any undesirable ingredients. Here’s what he had to say:
Dear Emily, I don't know the answer because I don't know the pH (may be associated with the efficacy) and the irritation of each product. However, I would try #2 first and if it doesn't irritate and work well, I'll stay with it. Product 1 contains alcohol and more natural extracts as well as other acids in the formula (doesn't mean it will work better, sometimes, the formulator just wants to add tiny amounts of natural extracts to look good) therefore it's more expensive, glycolic acid is the primary face peeling agent, both formulas have it. Both products contain no bad chemicals.
Note that Product 1 was Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel, and Product 2 was CVS Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads.
My dad says he can’t say for sure which one will be more effective, since he doesn’t know the pH or how much irritation each product will cause. He also mentions that even though Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel contains more natural extracts, this may not amount to much. He thinks that sometimes the formulator will add small amounts of these extracts just to make a product look good, but if they may not actually add enough to deliver any noticeable benefit. The cost of these natural extracts could be driving up the price of the Dr. Dennis Gross pads.
Both products include glycolic acid and witch hazel. Even though Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel includes other types of acids, glycolic acid is still considered the primary peeling agent since it appears early on in the ingredient list. It’s interesting (and troubling?) that denatured alcohol appears before glycolic acid in the ingredient list.
Interestingly, the CVS instructions say to rinse if desired after 10 minutes, while Dr. Dennis Gross says “do not rinse.”
Price comparison: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel vs. CVS Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Price: $88 for 35 treatments* on Sephora
Price per pad: ~$2.51
*Note: this post only compares the first step in the treatment. So if you estimate that step 1 accounts for half the price of each treatment, it’s really ~$1.25 per pad.
Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy Glycolic Peel Pads
Price: $19.99 for 20 pads at CVS
Price per pad: ~$1
The price difference actually isn’t that big, especially if you consider that Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel includes two pads per “treatment,” so you can’t really isolate the cost of step 1 (the glycolic acid peel pad). But the good thing about CVS is that it can sometimes run good promotions online, especially on its house brands (like Skin + Pharmacy). I actually just checked the price at CVS.com and it’s currently on sale for $14.99, bringing the cost of each pad down to about 75 cents.
Conclusion: Start with CVS Skin + Pharmacy Glycolic Peel Pads
So I’m going to follow my dad’s recommendation and opt for CVS Skin + Pharmacy Glycolic Peel Pads before trying out Dr. Dennis Gross’s version. I’m curious to see if it will irritate my skin more, less, or about the same as the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel.
it looks like the price difference isn’t drastic enough to push you to choose one of these products over the other. But it’s nice to know that you can get these glycolic peel pads from CVS anytime, rather than having to order them from a specialty store like Sephora. Plus, CVS’s version has a much more accessible price point: $15-$20 vs. $88, since it’s sold in a smaller 20-pack (vs. 35-pack). CVS Skin + Pharmacy seems like it offers a low-risk way to determine if glycolic peel pads could find a place in your skincare routine.