If you associate facial peels with the painful-looking, red-raw skin occasionally seen on some of the more extreme television makeover shows, then think again. A much gentler alternative is available, and as it's naturally based, it's much kinder ...
The key feature of the Jan Marini Skin Research Bioglycolic Peel is the use of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), derived from sugar cane. It works by penetrating the skin and loosening the 'glue' that binds dead cells together, resulting in a deep exfoliation which, it is claimed, leads to a softer, smoother complexion. The treatment is also said to rehydrate the skin by boosting the water-holding cells and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin.
The manufacturers of the peel say that alongside the improvement in skin texture, the treatment will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and combat discolouration. But it's not just an anti-ageing treatment, with Glycolic Acid being used to treat conditions such as acne, rosacea, keratosis, pigmentation and extreme dryness.
For my treatment, I visit Jane Reynolds, a specialist in facial aesthetics. Jane, who originally trained in dental care at King's College Hospital in London, has more than 20 years' experience in beauty, fitness and nutrition. She was one of the first practitioners in South Devon to give treatments using collagen and has now expanded her repertoire to include dermal fillers, and Juvederm, a brand-new treatment hailed as the successor to Botox, which is currently taking the beauty industry by storm. Jane splits her time between the long-established Oakleigh Health and Beauty Clinic in Cary Park, Torquay, and Quay Health in Paignton.
Clearly passionate about her work, she says: "I have been involved in health and beauty for a long time and I love what I do. For me, there is no greater satisfaction than helping to make people feel good about themselves. I thoroughly research all the treatments I offer and I wouldn't recommend anything I haven't tried out for myself." With a glowing, line-free complexion, Jane is certainly a great advert for her work. And she's not alone in her endorsement of the Jan Marini products and treatments: celebrity fans include TV presenter Trinny Woodall and actresses Sadie Frost and Patsy Palmer.
Before starting the course of peels, Jane gives me a consultation and skin analysis, and then hands over a bag of products to prepare the skin. This is an essential part of the treatment and needs to be undertaken around a fortnight before the first peel. The preparation pack has a special, soap-free cleanser to be used morning and evening; a bioglycolic 'clear' cream; a deep moisturiser, a serum and, most important, a sun protection lotion.
The Jan Marini products are not available over the counter and can only be prescribed by skin care specialists and dermatologists. They are simply packaged and unscented and, as I discover, highly effective at moisturising the skin.
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Two weeks later, I see Jane again for the first of three appointments. She is keen to point out that this is not a relaxing beauty treatment. So, my hair is scooped back in one of those glamorous, surgical hairnets and Jane pulls on rubber gloves before cleansing my face and applying the peel solution. As my skin is sensitive, Jane applies the mildest solution of 40% (the range goes up to 99%). It's applied and removed in an instant and I don't feel a thing.
On my next visit, I have another 40% peel followed, a couple of weeks later, by a 70% treatment. On this occasion, I experience a slight stinging sensation while the solution is on my face and some redness afterwards. But this is easily covered by make-up and subsides after a couple of days, to reveal a much more even-toned complexion. As Jane puts it: " You can have a treatment in your lunch break, and with a light dusting of mineral make-up, go back to work with a glow." KATHRYN KELLY
Oakleigh Clinic currently has a special offer on Glycolic Peels. Book a course of three treatments for £195 and get £70 worth of Jan Marini skin preparation products. Contact Oakleigh Clinic on 01803 314693, www.oakleighclinic.co.uk;