5-Day Stimulator Peel: The Diary of our At-Home Peel Experience using ZO Radical Night Repair

5-Day Stimulator Peel With ZO Radical Night Repair Retinol: A Diary of Our Experience (Updated 2023)

Looking for an effective skin resurfacing treatment that you can do at home? Look no further than the 5-Day stimulator peel, ZO At-Home Retinol Stimulation Peel using the ZO Radical Night Repair 1% retinol!

This peel is safe for all skin types and is specifically formulated to minimize the risks of post-inflammatory pigmentation. Dr. Zein Obagi designed this peel protocol with the Radical Night Repair (RNR) due to its specific delivery system. This protocol should NOT be performed with any other retinol. The safety and effectiveness of this peel are based on the specific peel protocol outlined below. Substituting products, steps, or duration of peel is NOT recommended.


This peel is not for the faint of heart or skin that has not been pre-conditioned first. Before you attempt this peel, you need to pre-condition your skin with a high potency, medical-grade retinol such as the ZO Radical Night Repair, Wrinkle + Texture Repair, or Retinol Skin Brightener (0.5% or higher). You should be able to use your medical-grade retinol 4-7 days per week without irritation for 6 weeks before you attempt this peel.

Even if you believe your skin is pre-conditioned enough, please Do NOT attempt this at-home treatment without first connecting with your YES Medspa Skin Health Advisor, as other factors, such as medications, can effect your skin and your peel response.

Benefits of the Peel

Retinol is an highly effective active ingredient that addresses a number of your skin concerns, such as fine lines and wrinkles, excess sebum production, strengthening the epidermis, and reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. This peel protocol is designed to increase cellular turnover to slough off the old layers of the epidermis and stimulate the dermis to trigger collagen and elastin production. It is designed to:
• Strengthen and tighten skin and reduces sensitivity to the environment & products
• Improve skin texture and tighten pores
• Repair damaged surface skin
• Minimize fine lines and wrinkles
• Reduce and correct abnormal surface pigmentation and sun-damage

Frequent use of high-potency retinol targets these issues on a microscopic level and usually causes mild dryness and irritation. This will continue until the skin has developed a tolerance (become stronger) to the retinol. The At-Home Retinol Stimulator Peel Protocol exaggerates the typical retinol response in your skin and will cause A LOT of peeling, redness, and sensitivity, but it is worth it!

You MUST avoid the sun at all costs during this at-home peel. As an added bonus, it’s a great excuse to postpone your workouts for a few days because your skin will be SPICY when you sweat!

ZO Peel Protocol

This peel is pretty simple and only includes a few products applied twice daily. The length of the peel varies based on the degree of exfoliation and your skin’s sensitivity. For beginners, we recommend a mild peel for 3 days. For those more familiar with retinol products, the peel can be performed for up to 5 days.

Required Products

During the peel, you will need your ZO Cleanser of choice, ZO Daily Power Defense, ZO Radical Night Repair, and a ZO SPF of 30 or higher. After you complete the 3-5 days of peeling, you will need a ZO Hydrating product of your choice. We recommend Hydrating Crème, Renewal Cream, or Recovery Cream for the post-peel recovery days. You can also use the Calming Toner (optional) during the recovery phase.

Days 1 -5 (or 3 if mild peel):

Apply your products in the following order:

  1. Cleanse AM + PM
  2. ZO Daily Power Defense AM + PM
  3. ZO Radical Night Repair AM + PM (use 5 pumps for a mild peel, 8 pumps for moderate and 10 pumps for strong peel. Make sure to massage the product into the skin until it is all absorbed.) *Do not apply directly to the neck—the skin is too sensitive to handle this peel—and avoid the eye area as the product will travel*
  4.  Sun protection! This is a non-negotiable! Even if you are inside all day, put on your SPF.

Post-Peel Recovery (starting day 4 or 6, depending on how long you perform the peel).

Apply products in the following order:

  1. Cleanse AM + PM
  2. ZO Daily Power Defense AM + PM
  3. ZO Hydrating Product of Choice (ZO Hydrating Crème, ZO Recovery Cream, or ZO Renewal Cream). Re-apply your hydrating product (step 3 above) as much as needed throughout the day; we recommend at least 5 times per day.
  4. Sun protection! This is a non-negotiable! Even if you are “inside all day”, put on your SPF. 

During the first weeks of social isolation, two of our YES Medspa team members, Lindsay and Brittani, embarked on the 5-Day Retinol Stimulator Peel from home and vlogged their experiences. In case you missed it live on Instagram, we will be uploading their Vlogs to YouTube in the coming weeks.

Brittani has dry/combination skin and experiences blackheads on her cheeks. Lindsay has oily skin and is prone to regular breakouts. They both completed 5 pumps twice per day for 5 days to get a mild peel.

Brittani’s Peel Diary:

Days 1-2 of my peel were uneventful.

Day 3 – The skin around my mouth started to get dry and showed signs of peeling. Heat, sweating, cleansing, and application of daily power defense caused a stinging sensation in the skin. I had been applying daily power and bringing the remnants of the RNR down my neck until this point, and this is where I stopped because my neck was getting very sensitive even with the little bit of product I was applying.

Day 4 – The peeling started around my mouth and forehead. Patches of red, fresh skin were beginning to show, and I had irritation on my neck. My skin was in a constant state of stinging.

Day 5 – I woke up that morning, and my face looked like I had applied Elmer’s glue to it and let it dry; it was cracked and very, very dry! The red, fresh skin looked like a mask quickly spreading toward the outer parts of my face. By this point, washing my face and applying products was VERY spicy but lasted only a few minutes.

Day 6 – Thank the hydration gods! My skin was so thirsty, and I applied my hydrating cream multiple times a day. My skin was very flaky, and I started to get a weird puckering of the skin under my eyes as the skin started to turn itself over.

Day 7 – I woke up this day looking like a prune. The skin on my eyelids was peeling, and my under eyes were even more puckered (even though I put the product nowhere near my eyes). The skin on my neck was painfully raw, and even turning my head was uncomfortable.

Day 8 – The skin on my face was very quickly returning to normal and only some patches were still peeling. The skin on my neck turned around in a night, and I was now sporting a lovely skin beard.

After day 9 I started to exfoliate and introduce my regular products back into my regime and my skin got better and better! My neck was a few days behind my face and once all of the dead skin was gone, my skin felt super smooth, clear, and healthy. While this peel was uncomfortable at some points, it was very manageable, and I will definitely be doing it again.

Lindsay’s Peel Diary:

Day 1 – Day 1 was very uneventful. Although we were applying a LOT of product, it did not feel heavy on my skin, nor did my skin get oily throughout the day. I spent a good 2 minutes just massaging in the Radical Night Repair. A little bit of product was left over on my hands, so I applied the remnants to my jawline and upper neck for both Daily Power Defense & Radical Night Repair.

Day 2- My skin felt a little warm today. No other concerns throughout the day; however. by the evening, I was starting to get small dry patches around my mouth.

Day 3 – The dry patches from last night are now very flaky. My skin was also pink today. My under-eye area was very sensitive when applying the Daily Power Defense. I had been applying the remnants of the Daily Power Defense and RNR down my neck, but I stopped today because my neck was getting very sensitive.

Day 4 – My skin was very red and patchy today and very DRY. You could see obvious areas that had already started to peel off, revealing pinky/red areas. It was stingy to apply products today. I tried to go for a run this evening, and it was VERY spicy. I do not recommend sweating while doing this peel.

Day 5 – I woke up this morning with VERY tight skin. When I animated my face, it felt like my skin was pulling in all directions and might crack. My jawline, temples, and forehead were the main peeling areas. Applying products was VERY spicy … I’d be lying if I said the Daily Power Defense didn’t make my eyes water. The Radical Night Repair was actually very soothing because of the silicone feeling.

Day 6 – Today was a rough morning. I could barely move my face because it was SO tight and dry. There was a rough layer of sandy, flaky skin. It almost looked like my skin was pilling. After a lukewarm shower, I was able to animate my face easier. I finally put the RNR away and started using the Renewal cream 5 times per day.

Day 7 – I woke up with another fresh layer of peeling skin. It looked like I was molting. After cleansing and applying my products, my skin softened up. I re-applied the renewal cream throughout the day with no concerns. My neck was extremely red and irritated today. Even though I only applied the remnants of the retinol to my neck for the first two days, it took until Day 7 for the response to surface on my neck, and it was not fun. Even the collar of my shirt touching my neck skin was uncomfortable.

Day 8 – The skin on my face was very much back to normal today. I was a little oilier today than the other days during the peel and I only had small flakes of peeling. My neck is beginning to heal as well. I had to apply a cool cloth last night before bed. It’s less red this morning but still VERY flaky.

Day 9+ – I started back on my regular skin routine for my face this morning, which included the ZO Dual Action Scrub and ZO Complexion Renewal Pads. I had no concerns or sensitivity to these products today. My neck is less red today but still sensitive and dry.

It was definitely a challenging process. Having to apply the products knowing that it would sting tested my mental fortitude. But overall I am VERY happy with my skin. I haven’t worn makeup since starting the peel challenge on April 7, 2020. I have always been someone that never leaves my apartment without makeup, so the boost in my skin confidence is amazing! My breakouts are less severe as well. I will definitely do this peel again in the winter months.

Let us know if you have any questions by commenting below or calling (604) 888-9378

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