In theory, all your skin need is cleanse and moisturize. But to keep your skin in top condition, you need at least a good sunscreen and a good exfoliator as well. Human skin constantly renews itself and replaces itself completely every 27 days. If you don’t exfoliate, dead skin accumulates and your complexion may start to look dull, feel flaky and your skincare may not absorb as well. What exfoliator should you use? Check out this fantastic breakdown of exfoliators by my skincare buddy lylysa! The post talks about different types of physical and chemical exfoliators as well as the pros and cons of each and everything else you’ve ever wanted to know.
I usually prefer an exfoliant with granules to scrub off the dead skin and some form of acid to clear out the pores, but without making my skin dry or sensitive. My holy grail exfoliators are Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion and Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder. Both are a little expensive but absolutely worth it. Besides, Dr. Brandt do 40-50% off every fall if you subscribe to their email list and Tatcha often has vouchers on Gilt City or Ruelala that brings the price down 30-40% every year so I never had to buy them at full price. Even though those two are my holy grail, there are plenty of nice exfoliators out there that I haven’t tried yet, so this is a round-up of some promising exfoliators that I’ve gathered.
Bliss Micromagic Microdermabrasion Treatment – it is a white creamy scrub with very fine pumice granules for a very thorough physical exfoliation. It contains mushroom extract, aloe vera etc so the scrub does not feel irritating at all. It does have a minty scent and feels cooling on the skin. It is a bit drying, so I would recommend it for oily/normal skin but not sensitive or dry skin.
Cane+Austin Miracle Pad+ – it says “results comparable to 30% glycolic acid treatment” not that it actually contain 30% glycolic acid, so don’t be scared off by the claims. It is a square shaped soft cloth that leaves no stinging sensation and did not feel drying at all when I wipe it on the skin. My skin feels smoother and my pores look cleaner the following days but it was not dry or irritated. It reminds me of Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels but more convenient and absorbs slightly better with no residue.
Colbert Intensify Facial Discs – it’s a thick fiber pad with rough texture on one side, and a plastic backing that only partially peels off on the other. It has a mild chemical scent. While the pad is smaller than most, it is saturated with enough liquid for face, neck and back of hand. There is no stinging sensation when used. My face feels smooth and clean with no irritation afterwards.
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Peel – it is nicely saturated with liquid and has a mild chemical milky scent. The pad is large and thick with rough texture but the solution feels very gentle on the skin so there’s no stinging or irritation when used. The one pimple I had actually felt soothed after using it. My skin feels soft and slightly tacky, but it does not interfere with moisturizer applied afterwards. Actually it feels like my moisturizer absorbed better since I needed a little more to feel moisturized. My skin did feel a little sensitive the next day, so make sure you wear sunscreen and don’t use it more than 2-3 times a week.
Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 – the pads are smooth on one side and has an embossed texture on the other side. The first peel smells like burnt plastic, and there was a mild stinging/tingling sensation for a few seconds when rubbed. It leaves a slightly stick layer on the skin, which is okay since you are following up with a second pad. The second pad smells…basic? kind of like baking soda or salt and feels watery. After rinsing off and pat dry, my skin feel soft but not irritated or drying.
Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Petal Peel – it’s a two step vitamin C peel. The first step is a yellow translucent gel with slightly acidic scent that tingles a little when rubbed on. When the thin layer dries or after 30 seconds, it’s time to apply step two. Step two is a pink cream that smells of roses like the rest of the Korres Wild Rose line. The cream turns slightly whiter when rubbed over step 1. There was a mild stinging sensation while I was waiting. After 6 minutes I rinsed it off. My skin felt soft, smooth and moisturized with no irritation.
Peter Thomas Roth Un-wrinkle Peel Pads – it has a slightly fruity acidic scent. The pads have a puffy texture pattern and there is enough liquid in the jar for the pads to stay wet for 5-6 months without signs of drying out. It does stings when rubbed but the sensation goes away quickly. After rinsing, my skin feels smooth and a little drier than usual. My skin is a tad flaky and tender the next day, so I would recommend starting with using 2-3 times a week and build up to daily use. For sensitive or very dry skin, I would recommend a milder pad such as Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta or Cane+Austin Miracle Pad+ instead.
Philosophy The Microdelivery Detoxifying Oxygen Peel – this is more of a fun mask and doesn’t really peel or exfoliate. First, you apply the black gel, wait a bit then apply the white cream on top. Once the white cream is rubbed on it starts to bubble/foamy a little on the skin. There’s no scent and no sensation really when it’s on the skin. You can use the blade to scrape most of it off or go straight to rinsing. It takes a little longer but it does rinse off cleanly and my face look slightly brighter afterwards. It’s a nice oxygen peel just like the previous rendition. Or if you don’t like the 2 step hassle, Peter Thomas Roth Brightening Bubbling Mask is a nice and more convenient alternative.
Revive Glycolic Renewal Peel Duo – it is a big pad that’s thin and soft. It’s wet but not drippy and stays wet throughout the entire time that I was rubbing it on my face, neck and hand. Once your face is dry after the pad, apply the gel generously over it. Most peels sting for a few seconds during application but this stings for the whole 2-3 minutes I had it on. It wasn’t unbearable but it was uncomfortable. After rinsing my skin feels squeaky clean, very soft and smooth. It looks a little red and feels a little sensitive but did not dry my skin out. It’s a pretty strong peel, as strong as ExfoliKate Intensive but not as drying. However, it is overpriced at $295 since ExfoliKate, Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip would’ve been a fine at-home alternative.
Skin Inc Pure Revival Peel – it’s a peeling gel! It’s a gel that turns slightly jelly-like as you spread it on your face. It says to wait 10 seconds for it to dry a little bit, then rub in a circular motion. Little white balls start to form as I rub, the balls are smaller and more firm than when I was using Koh Gen Do Soft Gommage Spa Gel or Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel, perhaps because of that it didn’t get glued to my peach fuzz like the other two. The skin feels smooth and clean after use, it’s a very gentle exfoliator that does not irritate or dry the skin out at all.
In the past, most peels I’ve used either irritates or dry my skin out. Most of the ones here contains aloe vera, cucumber and various calming extract to counter the effect of the acid. Cane+Austin Miracle Pad+ or Skin Inc Peel are mild but effective, great for sensitive skin. Korres Wild Rose is great for dry or mature skin. I’m still a fan of my Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip when it comes to peels, but if there’s a good discount, I’ll be repurchasing Cane+Austin again. So what exfoliator/peels are your favorite?