Today in the market we have a massive range of exfoliators to choose from, of course the traditional physical exfoliator continues to exist, but many have evolved to chemical (AHA and Enzyme) exfoliators. There is also a combination of physical and chemical exfoliator. So ultimately it comes down to your own preference and skin’s tolerance level. The general theme to all these products is the following category of ingredients:
- Natural fruit enzymes loosen dead skins cells from the surface of skin. Also includes fermented fruit extracts
- Physical exfoliants can be a huge range from botanical, herbals, precious stones to buff away surface dead skin cells
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) gently exfoliates skin and depending on type of AHA (and it molecular structure…to learn more about AHA click here), goes deeper in the skin than enzymes (learn basics of enzymes, click here). Lactic acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid
- Cellulose peels & Sugar extracts polishes, lifting away dullness revealing brighter skin
Choice of product depends on many factors such as:
- How many actives? Just enzymes or AHA’s or combination?
- Purely chemical exfoliation or including physical exfoliation too?
- Product effectiveness?
- Other factors to consider such as packaging, consistency, texture, smell?
- Of course how much $$$ we need to fork out?
- Certain brand principles and ethos?
In this post, I have attempted to round up all exfoliators I’m currently using and provide a brief summary on their composition and performance. Any questions or feedback you’d like to add to any product please post in comments below.
PCA Skin Revitalizing Mask was a complete surprise for me! The ingredient listing, performance, results and finally the price. Primary base and first ingredient as Papaya fruit extract adds to the distinct green colour of the product. Tingles in a good way and sloughs off dead skin from the surface. The product is enriched with Squalane, Sugarcane Extract, Sodium Chlorophyllin-Zinc Complex, Honey/Mel/Miel, Rose Geranium Flower Oil, Fennel Oil, Patchouli Oil, Green tea leaf Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Sucrose, Soybean Oil, Rosewood Wood Oil, Lime Fruit Extract, Orange Peel Oil. The skin glows and if followed by a clay mask, the final result is spectacular. This is certainly not for sensitive skins, with combination of strong enzyme and essential oils it might be tad much.
Planted in Beauty Detox Exfoliant is a classic combination of physical and chemical exfoliation (pineapple enzyme). The physical exfoliation is very fine and wouldn’t scratch or damage the skin (something that could work for some sensitive skins). It is also enriched with some lovely antioxidants (Raspberry and Moringa Seed Extract), plants extracts (Great Burdock, Fenugreek, May Chang, Alpine Willow Herb, Wintergreen), and sugars (Alpha Glucan Oligosaccharide). It appears to be well rounded in terms of formulation and performance is immediately visible results. Packaged in a tall 120ml/4oz pump bottle makes it very convenient. The addition of essentials oils makes it smell something like a product used in a spa.
Dr Lewinn’s Reversaderm Enzymatic Detoxifying mask sounds promising and heavy in its name. Purely chemical exfoliation, with slightest tingle however in terms of performance it does ‘ok’ for people with low expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it does it’s job however its limited in its performance compared to many others in this post. The inci list stars include, Irish Moss Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Papain, Bromelain, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Vitamin C, Resveratrol Ferment Extract, Oligopeptide-24, French Saffron Extract, Glycolic Acid. Also the availability is limited to Australia and possibly online in UK.
BeautyPie Fruitizyme Five Minute Facial is a newer product on the market, with an interesting brand concept where their members can shop from an ever-expanding selection of unbranded luxury skincare and makeup products, and pay only the straight off the production-line prices. Anyway aside that, let’s talk about product formulation and performance. So formulated with Glycolic Acid, Pumpkin Fruit Extract, Lactobacillus Pomegranate Fruit Extract, Quartz Powder (physical exfoliation), Bamboo Stem Extract, Rice Starch, Pomegranate Bark Extract, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Witch Hazel Bark Extract, Raspberry Leaf culture. It is a thick, mild physical exfoliating gel which positively tingles the skin and definitely does its job.
Själ Pearl Exfoliating Mask is the most expensive product on this post. A triple-performance exfoliant and mask that effectively detoxifies pores and brightens skin texture through a complex of enzymes, multi-fruit acids, and crushed pearl to minimize dullness, remove dead skin and excess sebum. The inci list is dissected below for each category of ingredient:
- Galactoarabinan: Larch Tree extract (recommend reading this article by Oskia)
- Precious Stones Exfoliators: Pearl Powder, Sapphire Powder, Diamond Powder, Citrine Powder, Amethyst Powder, Tourmaline Powder, Ruby Powder, Amber Powder – claims to have its own vibration that creates a gentle cooling effect when applied to skin that stimulates micro-circulation while helping to improve clarity and brightening. I don’t know enough about precious stones vibration and its impact & effectiveness in skincare but surely intrigues me a lot.
- Enzymes: Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Pomegranate Fruit Ferment Extract, Bromelain, Papain, Bilbery Fruit/leaf Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract.
- Other Extracts & Cellulose/Sugars: Smithsonite Extract, Rhodochrosite Extract, Mushroom Stem Extract, Algae Extract, Fennel Extract, Mannitol (type of sugar), Cellulose, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Royal Jelly Extract.
- Essential Oils: Blue Tansy Oil, Rosewood Wood Oil, Lavender Oil, Lime Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Bergamot Fruit Oil.
Upon application this product does tingle my skin, dries fairly quickly, and finally the skin is visibly radiant. To remove, I wet my fingers and gentle buff away the product as it has slight physical exfoliation component through precious stone powders. It is pricey and has a competitor in the same price range which I’ve talked about below (Omorovicza Copper Peel).
Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator’s is much revered among the blogosphere, and social media. Of course I had to grab myself a 1.5oz (45ml) jar at $60. Quite a pricey proposition and the formula is basically Honey, Plant Oils, Herbal Enzyme (powders), Papaya Enzyme (41th / 49th ingredient) and Essential Oils. While it leaves skin soft, smooth, radiant, its essentially a physical exfoliant in a honey base (which can be called as Enzyme base) and very little active enzyme (Papain, of course honey too). I feel no tingle expected from a typical enzyme exfoliant, however get more from this product through its physical exfoliation. I’m possibly the only one who feels this way about this product, and also feel there are other physical exfoliators at a much competitive price too.
Colleen Rothschild Dual Enzyme Polish (50ml at $55) is unique formula in this category of peels and exfoliants. While the formula consists of usual Bromelain, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Papain, it also has notable ingredients like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and finally few more ingredients like Comfrey Leaf Extract, Green Tea Leaf Extract, Argan Kernel Oil, Macadamia Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil. The Vitamin and C are on skin for such a short while I don’t see them making an impact on skin. This polish to be applied, left on for few minutes and then gradually exfoliated off the skin. The result is more visible from the physical exfoliation than the enzymes, it does leave skin smooth and soft.
SkinJuice is an Australian skincare distinguished by its intense bright coloured packaging. Not widely known to the world but it is surely a brand to keep an eye out for. I tried their Facial in a Jar mask which is basically a hot pot of AHAs, Enzymes and potent botanical extracts. Some known ingredients included in this formulation are: Lactic Acid, Witch Hazel Distillate, Pomegranate Fruit Ferment Extract, Mandelic Acid, PhytoCide Elderberry Extract, Sodium Lactate, Manna sugar, Malic acid, Pumpkin Fruit Extract, Seabuckthorn Berry Oil, Moth Bean Seed Extract, Irish Moss Extract, Rapeseed Oil, Ginger Root Extract, Papain, Sodium Hyaluronate etc. Packaged in an air tight pump up jar, and need only 2-3 pumps for a layer over the face. Slightest tingle on skin and leaves skin incredibly radiant and refined. No physical exfoliation at all, however it major concoction of AHA’s and enzymes I doubt the skin needs any more exfoliation.
January Labs Power Peel & Go is one product I was very excited to try however it left me very underwhelmed. It appealed to me for its short, concise inci list and hoped it performed like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, but it left a lot to be desired. For non-elephant skin individuals this peel might work, however for me it didn’t do a thing. I contacted brand and they sent me the Pro version, which gave me mild tingle and flush to skin mainly because of Cinnamon Oil. Sensitive skinned people should be careful using Cinnamon oil in this formulation, as it may irritate the heck out of your skins. Long story short, for USD $75, there are much better alternatives available. Full Inci List: Water, Hypromellose, Phenol (magic ingredient in Biologique Recherche P50 1970, for numbness), Cinnamon Oil (stimulate the skin and increase circulation), Potassium Sorbate, Chloroxylenol, Grapefruit Extract (purifier, antiseptic, and preservative).
Chantecaille Fruit and Flower Mask is a gorgeous cream mask with not so clean ingredient list but performance surpasses many masks! A light whipped cream consistency mask, packaged in thick glass bottom jar, and enriched with Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Hibiscus Flower Extract, Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Grapefruit Fruit extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Papain (Hyaluronate and Papain/Papays enzyme are last few ingredients). I do feel a mild tingle on applying this mask, it smells just gorgeous of florals like Rose, Hibiscus, Jasmine, Narcissus. I also enjoy steaming my face as this mask eats away dead cells (image of Pac Man comes to mind) from surface.
Pixi Peel & Polish is a mild physical exfoliating or a leave on peel. Hence the name Peel and Polish. P&P is formulated with Lactic Acid, Sunflower Seed Oil, Witch Hazel Water, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Orange Fruit Extract, Lemon Fruit Extract, Bilberry Fruit Extract. The physical exfoliation is courtesy of Polylactic Acid beads which are tiny, and can feel tad abrasive on skin’s surface. For $24 this product performs well, and quick spruce up for skin. By no means this is an indulgent luxurious or clean product but like I said, does the job. The strong cucumber scent is not my cup of tea (just a matter of personal preference).
Speaking of luxurious and indulgent lets talk Omorovicza Copper Peel. A brightening two phase peel for brightening skin, combining a blue copper paste and a lactic acid activator, polishes and smooths the complexion and visibly reduces pore size for a brighter, more even skin tone. I was very dubious about this product, given the price and ingredient list appeared reasonable but basic.
So let me cut to the chase, did it live up to the hype? Yes! The paste is very very fine and very gentle to massage on dry skin. Paste is enriched with Sodium Bicarbonate, Squalane, Copper Gluconate, Camphor, Yeast Extract, and essential oils like Sage Oil, Chamomile, Geranium. I tend to leave it on for few minutes before proceeding with the Activator enriched with Hungarian Thermal Water, Lactic Acid, Hungarian Thermal Water Ferment Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, and Chlorella Protein Ferment. Gently massage in the activator and it forms white foam (don’t think soapy suds, no). Finally splash water on water and thoroughly remove any residue. The skin feels soft like cloud, radiant like first ray of sun. The tubes last least 3 uses, for me personally I used 4 times. So it seems the dollar goes much further than initially anticipated and results surely made it worth it for me.
So as a final round up, couple of quick points from usage perspective, I tend to use 2-3 times a week. Typically after cleanse and before a dense purifying clay or mud mask. Also highly recommend steaming your face with these products on your skin, the results are astounding. If there is any product you’d like to recommend in this category, please leave your recommendation in comments below.