Dennis Gross MD Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel

I like shopping. I like free samples. Over the course of my rather frequent shopping, I tend to wind up with a lot of samples. Sometimes, I even remember to use them. This column is my ode to random samples and the unpredictable results they beget.

On a bad day, my face looks something like a military weapons testing field, showing all sorts of strange bumps, dents, scars and marks. This is due to an adolescence marred by some heinously bad acne, skin that’s highly allergic to a variety of cosmetic ingredients, and the boy dropping a 14-pound cat on my face one morning.

Sadly, I am dead serious about that last one. I went into work that morning with a giant bloodied band-aid over half my face and people thought I was in a car accident.

“What happened?!” they exclaimed.

“My boyfriend lobbed a furry land whale at me this morning to wake me up,” I said.


“It wasn’t cute OR humorous, as he planned”


“Yeah, you can stop trying not to laugh now.”

Anyways, I finally decided to set aside the self pity and do something about it. I’d heard all sorts of good things about home facial peels and rather liked the idea of something gentle and gradual versus one intense spa treatment that could leave my face blistered as a roasted tomato.  So I busted out my big box o’ samples.


On the evening of February 23, I tried out my Dennis Gross MD Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel towelette samples for the first time. My skin had been behaving fairly well, a bit on the oily and bleh side, but not excessively so. It was still winter and dry enough to keep things in check. We’d been drowning ourselves in liquids, like good desert-dwellers, to avoid getting sucked dry by the weather. The site descriptions of the product sounded promising. Blotchy skin? Old scars? Largish pores? Problematic cyclical acne? Check. Let’s see if this stuff is as miraculous as they say.

After washing my face with my staple Philosophy Purity Made Simple, I applied the Step 1 peel pad according to the instructions, distributing it around in a semi-circular motion until it felt mostly dry. It smelled like astringent, but not unpleasantly so, and I could see dead cells and gunk coming off onto the pad. Eww, mental note to exfoliate more. I started feeling a bit of stinging on the dryest, most sensitive parts of my cheeks, but rarely does anything not sting them during the winter. The rest of my face felt rather tingly, like something might be going on. I’m guessing that’s what happens when you put acid on your face, no matter how lightly.

After waiting the prescribed two minutes for Step 1 to take effect, I applied the Step 2 pad and found that it immediately soothed the slight burning while smelling comfortingly flowery and fruity. I might have also detected a slight bit of tea in the mixture, familiar from back when I used leftover green teas as astringent. When it dried off, my face did feel smoother and tighter right away, and surprisingly un-dry. I didn’t need any additional moisturizer initially and did not feel at all inflamed. A few dry spots made themselves known after an hour, so I smoothed on some Hope In a Jar and slept on it.

The instructions for this product say to use it in the mornings before putting on makeup, but I think I’d probably use this at night. I rather enjoy feeling like everything’s been scrubbed off and I’m going to bed squeaky clean. Also, it would leave my skin prepped for a nice, moisturizing night cream. Puttin on makeup after having so thoroughly cleaned off my face seems to almost be a step backwards. I can believe that a month-long regimen of this would produce results, though I would fear that it might be a bit rough on my skin for a daily basis. What with the reviews saying that it was genuinely helpful to lighten scars, the precise dosages per pad and the ease of application (creams and gels and repeat washings are so tedious, especially when you’re traveling), I’d definitely be willing to invest in a full-sized set and see some more results.

PS. Since jotting down notes for the initial review, I *did* buy that set and use it a few times a week with great results. It has helped calm down skin that started going haywire after weeks of moving stress, extended exposure to dry airplane air, some unwelcome monthly hormonal swings, and an entirely different climate to adapt to. Within a week of starting the regimen, the crazy breakouts were going away and skin was looking much more toned. Though it is a bit too pricey (and intense) to use every day, a regular application schedule is definitely having more impact than months of pore strips and facial scrubs have in the past. Yay for experimentation!


  1. I have yet to find any face product that works as well on my skin as my $8 tub of zinc ointment does. If you are unfamiliar with this little gem, it’s a thick white medicinal cream that is most commonly found in diaper rash treatments. I’ve been using it since I was in my teens, and my mother has been using it forever, as her mother did before her. It is super moisturizing, and never NEVER causes acne or any other irritations.

    The one thing it doesn’t help with, though, is tightening aging skin. As I am now – *ahem* – a lady of a certain age, I decided to try a few of the more recommended drug store face creams (most recently tried: No7 Lifting and Firming Night Cream), but they always end up irritating my skin. The only brand I’ve found that doesn’t is called Living Nature. It’s a New Zealand brand, all-natural, the only down sides being a)it’s not available over here & can be pricy to have mailed, b) is not exactly cheap even without the price of postage, and c)smells regrettably like wet dog.

    My search continues…

    • I have heard of zinc treatments being good for problematic skin, actually! I haven’t had as many problems with red skin since I started taking the pill, but probably would have been all for trying it before. The only thing I’m afraid of is that my skin really doesn’t react well to thick creams at all — it makes the oily parts go nuts even though the dry parts really need the moisture. That’s why I’m pretty happy with my current souffle-consistency stuff — it’s thin but still very moisturizing and sinks in fast. Might just pick some of your stuff up to keep on hand for occasional breakouts, though…

      As for aging skin… well, my mother (and now that boy’s mother, after I pointed it out to her at the duty free shop) swears by Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum, but it’s not exactly cheap either. I’ve tried it and it feels pretty nice, but admittedly have not started worrying too much about that aspect yet. *fingers crossed*

  2. Estee Lauder, you say? That’s one I haven’t tried yet. Thanks for the tip!

Talk to me! Please remember to tick the "Notify me of follow-up comments" box below to receive email notification of replies.

  • Subscribe to Blog