Since posting about Maxi-Peel exfoliant solution, I’ve gotten a few requests/questions about how to use Maxi Peel step-by-step, how to deal with the peeling, what moisturizers to use, and how to go about sun protection.

Before we go there, I’ll tell you about my skin first and what got me to try the product.


Before: My acne during my teens wasn’t that bad. I’ve always had acne but I’d consider it mild. I get tiny pimples here and there but I wasn’t really bothered by it. They’re always just small ones, not a pretty sight, but I dealt with it.Scatterbraintures

My acne got really bad when I was in my mid-20s (2009). I got clusters of small pimples and a galaxy of whiteheads that lay on top of each other. I get one or two cystic pimples but they’re not that frequent. I went to the doctor as soon as I realized that I was experiencing adult acne. Cringe-worthy story: An officemate/friend told me that in one of our meetings, I talked to my boss with one of my pimples bleeding.

In this photo, my skin was already on its way to recovery. My acne looked like this, only 5x worse.

Now: I only get pimples during that time of the month, and they disappear quickly. My face is clear for most of the month.

I thought you’d want to know this so you can manage your expectations — especially those who have it worse than I did.


My acne journey did not start with Maxi-Peel and OTC Tretinoin Creams. It started with the routine prescribed by Aesthetic Science Clinic. I hope I remember enough of everything that happened. Anyway, this was my prescription from them (their products are listed here):

How I Cleared My Skin in A Week

  1. Kojic Acid Soap
  2. Anti-bacterial Toner (alcohol-based, I don’t know what the “anti-bacterial” ingredient is)
  3. CHAT 2% Solution (alcohol-based, CHAT = clindamycin phosphate, hydroquinone, alum, tretinoin)
  4. Sunblock Gel SPF 15 (no ingredients listed)
  5. Retinoic Acid .1% (Essentia Cream ie Tretinoin Cream)
  6. Blending Cream (Hydroquinone Cream)

It’s only now that I’ll be easing my way into using tretinoin.  Previously, this was my prescription from the derm:

  • Kojic Acid Soap
  • Anti-bacterial Toner (alcohol-based)
  • CHAT 2% Solution (chat = clindamycin phosphate, hydroquinone, alum, tretinoin)
  • Retinoic Acid .1%
  • Blending Cream (hydroquinone cream?)


This prescription is strong.  I was told to use only the first 3 in the morning and all of them at night. I was also asked to start immediately after the day the doctor did a mild TCA peel procedure.

On my fourth day, my skin was so raw that when I touch my jaw, I felt like I was touching raw flesh.

I called the doctor and asked if I could substitute the soap with a gentler cleanser, something like Physiogel.  S/he told me to fight through the pain and continue using the Kojic Acid soap.  I didn’t follow the doctor’s advise.  My gut told me to listen to my skin and I’m so glad I did.  I might have ended up filleting my face if I pushed through with the soap.

Right now, I’m sure that to some extent, my tolerance to tret has lowered.  It’s been almost 4 months since I used it.

Used incorrectly, tretinoin can destroy the skin.  It can make the skin more pimply, crepe-y, and wrinkly.

I feel proud of myself for getting E into using and loving this toner.

A little bit of a side story:  E used to scour his face with 70% rubbing alcohol after shaving. Although men’s skin is thicker, I still think alcohol is too harsh for his face. I told him to use alcohol-free toner but he insisted that alcohol is better because it can kill bacteria. If you must know, E is a bit of a germophobe.

It so happened that I usually keep VMV Superskin 3 Toner handy for crazy skin situations. He tried it and he didn’t care too much for it because it just feels like his beloved alcohol.

Although VMV Superskin 3 is still technically, alcohol (50%), it is several notches better because it has tretinoin and clindamycin phosphate (i.e., topical antibacterial stuff) in it.

If there is one word on a label that can get E to use a skin care product, it’s — *ding! ding! ding!*antibacterial! It didn’t say that exact word on the label but I did spend effort getting my geek on and explaining to him what clindamycin phosphate does: kill acne-causing bacteria.

The whole time, I feel like I’m sneaking veggies to a kid, only I’m sneaking skin care to an alcohol-loving macho man. Now, if only I can get him to apply sunscreen every day. Would you know of an antibacterial sunscreen?


What I like most about this product is that it is a no-BS anti-acne product. E used to get a pimple every so often. He’s lucky he only gets one pimple at a time – even luckier now that he doesn’t get any pimple at all. We attribute it to the toner.

Aside from the clindamycin phosphate (that kills P. Acne bacteria), the toner also has tretinoin that also helps fight acne. It works by making skin cell turnover faster keeping the pores from getting clogged.

Most people experience skin purging and flaking when they first use products with tretinoin. E didn’t experience that. His skin didn’t even get drier. It just stopped getting pimples.

One time he told me he wishes that he’d known me when he was in college. But it wasn’t because of anything aaaawwwww-ingly romatic. He just had an acne situation back then and had he known about this toner earlier, he would not have gotten acne scars. The thing is, when he was in college, I was still a high school student and I didn’t know VMV existed.

More on tretinoin; and a caution

Be warned if you want to try this product. Almost all people who use tretinoin for the first time experience dryness and/or irritation of some sort. Be it flaking, purging, redness, or something that resembles a rash.

I didn’t experience those with this product because I was already using tretinoin cream for more than a year when I used it. I might write an elaborate post on my experience with tretinoin one of these days. It makes an excellent addition to a skin care routine because it also prevents premature wrinkles.

Read the note. It contains very important stuff.
(Checkout the 2-year shelf-life. Nice!)

Now, we nitpick

If there’s one thing I dislike about this, it’s the packaging. The bottle that it comes in doesn’t have a pump or something that can help regulate the liquid as it is dispensed. Think: alcohol bottle that doesn’t have a tiny stopper thingy with a needlepoint-sized hole in the middle. One time, I almost spilled everything on myself, so be careful.

The instructions say not to soak the cotton pad. But how can you do that if the bottle opening is a centimeter wide? To remedy this, I decant the toner in an opaque glass atomizer.

By the way, I recently discovered that Zalora carries VMV. And many of the VMV products on the site are currently on sale, yay! VMV seldom holds a sale in their physical stores, and most of the time, it’s only a 1-day sale. I am bummed that this toner isn’t currently in stock. I was hoping I can get it at sale price.

If you’re thinking of buying, it’s always conveniently available at Watsons.

It’s somewhat expensive for a toner (around Php 600+) but I think it’s worth it. The 100 ml. bottle lasted for 6 months with E and I sharing it. I only use it for bad breakout days though.

We will definitely repurchase, and purchase, and purchase this forever and ever, amen…