I know the first question I’ll be asked when I hit publish is ‘what is your favourite exfoliant?’ so let’s knock that out right here. I’m big on exfoliation and am locked in a long-term love affair with Dermalogica’s microfoliant. Yes, I know. It’s super expensive and very easy to extol its wonders when you’re being given it for free. Still, I freaking LOVE it and, when I’m rich, I’m happy to cough up the cash. Thing is, I work as a freelancer which means my income fluctuates. Some months I earn a whopload and life’s all about bubbly and seafood platters and then there are others where I find myself buying almost expired groceries from Foodies in Bergvliet*. It’s months like those when I reach for something like The Body Shop’s powder polish or Sorbet’s Skin Polish. Both are great dupes. Which ever is cheapest/on special I’ll buy.
Today, however, I’m talking about chemical exfoliators, meaning you aren’t using grains or beads or whatever to shift dead skin, but an acid or enzyme. You might think that an acid scrub is more potent than an enzyme one and that’s not always the case. It all depends on the acid used as well as the concentration. Many products contain AHAs but they’ve been so diluted or the product’s the wrong pH so they do bugger all.
Anyway, I’ve had three chemical exfoliators cross my path and I thought I’d share my thoughts, the first being Filorga Oxygen Peel re-oxygenating micro-peeling lotion (R520).
I initially rolled my eyes when I looked at the ‘oxygen’ bit because I thought it was one of those products that ‘contain oxygen’ and I’m not yet convinced that’s a thing. My thoughts on that are over here. Merrily, Filorga’s not relying on perflourocarbons. Instead, they’re using ‘polysaccharides’ that stimulate cytoglobin, a protein that ‘assists with intracellular oxygen storage and transfer’. Personally, I don’t know how important this is. Cytoglobin deficiency’s yet to make any headlines.
But ja, oxygen shizzle out the way, let’s talk about the actual ‘peeling’. Filorga’s new juice is a mix of 6 acids that range from mild (gluconalactone) to strong (glyconic acid). The concentration of the acid mix is 6% but this is meaningless as you don’t know the ratio of each acid. I.e. it could be lots of gluconalactone and a teeny tad of glycollic, so if you’ve used an 5% glyconic acid product in the past and found it too sterk for your skin don’t freak out. Filorga’s is nowhere near that potent and a lot of the ‘tingle’ stems from its alcohol content (more on that later).
So, how does it work? Easy. You just pump it onto a cotton pad and sweep it over your face. It’s to be used at night and, while you can use a moisturiser on top of it, know that this could ‘dilute’ its efficacy.
I’ve got oily-combo skin that’s very used to AHAs (I use Dermaceutic Light Ceutic every second night which contains 8% glycolic acid plus vitamin C) and, having used Filorga’s peel for six nights in a row, I can attest to the fact that it hasn’t irritated my skin in the least. I don’t love that it’s got so much alcohol in it but this is negated by the fact that it also includes hydrating hyaluronic acid. I used to be quite fierce about alcohol in skincare but am softening up in my old age and encourage you to make up your own mind after reading A RESOUNDING JUST SAY NO and a very confident YOU’RE BEING RIDIC, IT’S TOTALLY FINE.
I know Filorga is touting this as a peel but I view this as multi-tasking toner with a low acid content to help reveal brighter-looking skin that would be best suited to anyone with oily/combo skin who doesn’t have any feels about booze in their beauty.
Okay, so that was super-duper long! Let’s chat about a quick hitter that doesn’t require a lot of explanation and that’s Six Brightening Enzyme Peel (R365, selected salons**).
If you’ve got a drier skin type than this guy will be your friend. It’s essentially a papaya enzyme exfoliator in a hydrating base of gylcerine and coconut oil-derived emollients. It’s got a yummy vanilla scent and it’s easy to apply. Just spread it over dry skin, leave it on for a minute and then wet it and massage it in for two minutes.
Between you and me, I don’t have two minutes to rub at my face so, after letting it sit for a bit, I gave it a blast of thermal water and replied to my ten thousand emails while it did its magic. Afterwards, when I rinsed my face, my skin felt a little tingly (yay! It’s actually contains enough enzymes to work!) and a bit of dry skin on my forehead (the result of blitzing a would-be pimple with Differin gel) had loosened up beautifully so it was easy to swipe away with a towel.
I’ve tried lots of papaya-based enzyme exfoliators in the past and many are so weak I wonder why anyone would bother but this one is a solid choice.
Lastly, let’s chat about Team Dr Joseph Fruit Acid peel (R525, Future This).
The pot’s faux wooden lid is super cute but if you want to prevent your actives from oxidising the first thing you have to do is decant this guy into a pump bottle. Fortunately, the cream is pretty runny so it’s easy to do.
Remember what I was saying about how glycolic acid is the strongest acid but if it’s used in a low concentration it can be gentler than weaker acids or enzymes? This is the situation here. The acid doing the heavy lifting here is glycolic acid (even though it’s derived from sugar cane, glycolic acid is often categorised as a fruit acid) and it sits right in the middle of the ingredients list, diluted by lots of emollients and soothing aloe leaf juice. Of all the products I’ve mentioned here, it’s the gentlest of the bunch and would be a nice pick for anyone with dry or sensitive skin. (To give you perspective, L’Oreal’s Bright Reveal dual overnight treatment – to be used nightly – contains loads more glycolic acid than TDJ’s peel.)
Bizarrely, Team Dr Joseph suggests you use this once or twice a month and wash it off after 5 minutes. Huh? This product’s acid content is around 2% at best (this is much lower than many ‘apply every night’ AHA products) that, if used once a month and not even left on, you’re not going to reap the full benefits. (Aside from exfoliating, AHAs are also good at stimulating collagen but this means regular use. You can’t use a retinol serum once a month and expect results.)
So, I took this dude with me on holiday to visit my fam and applied it before bed every single night and only washed it off the next morning with zero adverse effects. It made for a lovely hydrating night cream with anti-ageing benefits and I’d recommend it anyone wanting to step their toes into the AHA world but wanting something more hydrating as well as very gentle.
See anything you’d like to try yourself?
*Good God! You haven’t been to Foodies?! Make a plan chica! Not everything there is about to kick the bucket. Many items are simply unboxed. I leave with huge family packets of rusks for R14 a pop and armfuls of that Scheckters energy drink for R6 a can. Just go and check it out before you give me shit, you big snob. Reducing your grocery bill means more money for the really important things like booze, travel and botox.
**Six is tricky to get hold of and they’re yet to get into e-commerce so call (011) 312 7840 to find your nearest stockist.