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Over-The-Counter Skin Treatments Promise To Peel Off Effects Of Aging

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CARY, N.C. — Many people prefer a skin treatment they can use in the privacy of their own homes. The question is, what kind of results will you get from home kits versus what a professional can do?

Lynnette Gavalier is on a quest to peel years off her face to get rid of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots.

"I found my skin seemingly dull, so I just wanted to look into what was a mild treatment to kind of brighten it," she said.

Patients like Gavalier often turn to professional skin treatments that can cost $100 or more per visit. Microdermabrasion uses abrasive crystals to remove layers of skin. Chemical peels use acids of varying strengths to accomplish the same thing.

For just $20 and up, over-the-counter products promise the same results at home. A professional course of treatment typically runs three to five months.

"With these home kits, maybe it's 12 or 18 months to get to that same goal," said dermatologist Dr. Catherine Hren.

Over-the-counter products have weaker concentrations of active ingredients to protect customers who may not follow directions.

"You know, you always try these things and to be honest, I never noticed a difference," Gavalier said.

Hren alternates between chemical peels and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments. Peels and microdermabrasion treat the skin surface. IPL goes deeper to stimulate collagen.

"You're fixing the supporting structure, then you're smoothing the covering on it," Hren said.

A thick layer of cold gel protects the skin from the hot flash of light. IPL helps fade red, discolored patches.

"Then at the end, you get a nice facial massage, so that's the good part," Gavalier said.

Over-the-counter skin products that mimic professional treatments can be effective if you follow directions. It will just take longer than a professional treatment. The home kits are milder, but they can still cause irritation if used improperly.