All About Alpha Beta Peels: There’s a Reason This Peel is a Bestseller

8 min
by Ben Gentzler
February 25, 2022

As the originator of the two-step, at-home chemical peel, our founder, New York City dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, basically created the entire home-peel skincare category. And while our Alpha Beta Daily Peels may be the OG, they’re still number-one sellers across the country and around the world. In fact, one Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel is sold every two seconds. What makes them the best? We’re glad you asked.

A true chemical peel is two steps

This isn’t a company secret (in fact, it’s right on our box): A true, dermatologist-administered chemical peel is a two-part process. In the first step, a dermatologist applies a chemical solution to the part of the skin being treated. And then they watch. This is because the chemicals, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, don’t have an automatic off switch. Left unchecked, they would absorb deeper and deeper into the skin, resulting in a massive chemical burn – or worse.

Instead, your derm must keep a close eye on your skin, monitoring its changes. Once the desired result is achieved, they immediately shut the whole operation down with a neutralizing agent. This second, neutralization step is an integral part of a medical-strength peel. It’s also what makes a peel, a “peel.” Without it, you’re just giving your skin a hefty dose of chemical exfoliation, which is fine – but also a recipe for irritation. (See above: Chemicals keep working until they’re neutralized.)

Keep in mind: Anything that’s formulated and approved for home use is ultimately safe, no matter how far you veer away from the instructions. That’s safe, as in “won’t kill you,” not safe in the sense that you won’t get an adverse reaction if you use it incorrectly. (Although this brings up another point: Don’t buy chemicals, such as TCA or phenol, off the internet and try to make your own skin peel. This is extremely dangerous. Do not do it.)

“People think something’s a peel just because it comes on a pad, but simply wiping acids on your face doesn’t make a skincare product a peel,” Dr. Gross says. 

How should you pick your peel?

In general, it’s best to start with your skin type and skin concerns. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble chemical exfoliants that sweep away dead cells from the skin’s surface, while also stimulating cell renewal. AHAs’ partner in crime, oil-soluble beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) penetrate more deeply than AHAs, dissolving plugs in the heart of a pore and eliminating the bacteria that causes acne. Over time, continued use of the duo results in smoother, brighter, firmer skin with fewer breakouts. 

Within those two categories, however, there’s a lot of differentiation between what specific AHAs and BHAs are best for, beyond providing all the benefits listed above. Instead of taking “a one size fits all” approach with your hydroxy acids, look for a peel with ingredients best suited for your particular skin needs.

If you have: balanced or combination skin, the occasional pimple, or are new to the peeling game

Try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel




Why it’s a winner: The peel that started it all. Five alpha and beta hydroxy acids provide all you need for a consistently clear, glowing complexion.

Citric acid (AHA): Naturally astringent, citric acid helps control oil production.

Glycolic acid (AHA): The small molecular size of this uber-popular AHA allows it to go deep into the skin.

Lactic acid (AHA): Latic acid doesn’t just stimulate cell turnover—it also stimulates ceramide production, which reinforces the skin barrier to keep moisture in.

Malic acid (AHA): A humectant, malic acid is able to draw moisture from the air into the skin, thus keeping it from drying out.

Salicylic acid (BHA): While it’s eradicating your breakout, salicylic acid is also helping build collagen and elastin, so skin ends up not only clearer but appears more youthful as well. 

If you have: oily or combination skin, are prone to breakouts, or want to minimize the appearance of wrinkles or dark spots

Try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel



Why it’s a winner: A combination of seven alpha and beta hydroxy acids work synergistically to give breakouts the boot, while also brightening and firming skin.

Citric acid (AHA): Naturally astringent, citric acid helps control oil production.

Glycolic acid (AHA): The small molecular size of this uber-popular AHA allows it to go deep into the skin.

Lactic acid (AHA): Latic acid doesn’t just stimulate cell turnover—it also stimulates ceramide production, which reinforces the skin barrier to keep moisture in.

Malic acid (AHA): A humectant, malic acid is able to draw moisture from the air into the skin, thus keeping it from drying out.

Mandelic acid (AHA): An antibacterial that’s also an anti-irritant, mandelic acid helps prevent acne and keep skin calm.

Salicylic acid (BHA): While it’s eradicating your breakout, salicylic acid is also helping build collagen and elastin, so skin ends up not only clearer, but appears more youthful as well. 

Salix Alba (BHA): An extract of willow bark, salix alba dissolves oil and refines pores, but gently.

If you have: dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin

Try Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel


Why it’s a winner: This blend of three alpha and beta hydroxy acids provides all the benefits of its more potent siblings, but in a soothing, delicate manner.

Lactic acid (AHA): Latic acid doesn’t just stimulate cell turnover—it also stimulates ceramide production, which reinforces the skin barrier to keep moisture in.

Mandelic acid (AHA): An antibacterial that’s also an anti-irritant, mandelic acid helps prevent acne and keep skin calm.

Salix Alba (BHA): An extract of willow bark, salix alba dissolves oil and refines pores—just like salicylic acid—but is less likely to cause irritation.

Discover Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for All Your Skincare Needs

For more skincare tips from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross, check out our blog’s newest content today. Shop the collection of Dr. Dennis Gross bestselling skincare backed by dermatologists.

Written By

Ben Gentzler

Ben is an Education professional with 16 years of experience in prestige/professional skincare and beauty. Brand, retail, and professional/spa education & training.

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Written By

Ben Gentzler

Ben is an Education professional with 16 years of experience in prestige/professional skincare and beauty. Brand, retail, and professional/spa education & training.

MORE FROM Ben Gentzler

Layering 101: How to Layer Skincare Products

Read More