All products touting detoxifying, pore-refining, or complexion-perfecting magic are based around one thing: exfoliation. Exfoliation, or the process of removing the built-up, pigment-containing dead skin cells that make up the top layer of the skin called the stratum corneum, occurs naturally every minute or every day, but nature did not bother to make it uniform. This variability causes a dull, uneven complexion. Things like Algenist’s Multi-Perfecting Detoxifying Exfoliator are designed to achieve a more equal rate of exfoliation and a brighter, smoother look. In a sense, this woman is exfoliating this soon to be statue.
Includes: Salicylic Acid, Silica, Diatomaceous Earth, Silica
Algenist starts off strong by combining two complementary ingredients. First off is silica, which is just very fine grains of sand, and silicon-encrusted algae better known as diatomaceous earth. Both work by mechanically abrading the skin, similar to how sandpaper smooths out a piece of wood. But don’t worry, it is much more gentle than sandpaper! These two ingredients are enhanced through the presence of salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant. Salicylic acid weakens the intracellular bonds between skin cells and softens keratin, the main structural protein of the skin (IJD, 2002). It is uniquely suited for our purposes here because it does not penetrate too deep into the skin – don’t want to remove too much! – and its anti-inflammatory properties decrease the risk of causing dark spots (hyperpigmentation). Studies have shown that even in skin tones that are more prone to hyperpigmentation, like African-American and Asian skin, the risk is quite low (Derm Surg 2001, 2003). If all that doesn’t sound good enough to you, chew on this: dermatologists across the country rely on salicylic acid as their go-to superficial chemical peel, especially when treating acne, pigmentation disorders (like melasma), and people with darker complexions. Granted they use higher concentrations than are commercially available, but the concept is exactly the same! For more on salicyclic acid, check out Nikki’s excellent research!
Emollients & Emulsifiers & Surfactants
Includes: Capyrlic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Squalene, Glycerin, Sorbitan Isostearate, Dimethicone (and its crosspolymers), Caprylyl Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Sorbate, Algae Polysaccharides, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer
These ingredients makes the product feel more creamy and less like a handful of sand! Emollients and surfactants are better known for their strong moisturizing properties, but as a wash-off product, I do not think that really comes into play.
Includes: Willow Bark Extract, Hibiscus Flower Extract, Lentil Seed Extract, Beet Root Extract, Japanese Rose Extract, Soybean Extract
The benefit of antioxidants that only come into contact with the skin for a minute or two – especially when you are trying to get rid of the top layer – is unclear to me, but maybe they may serve some antiinflammatory role (Skin Pharm, 2005). The chemists in the audience may wonder if the willow bark extract is way to sneak in more salicyclic acid content. After all, willow bark contains salicin, from which salicylic acid and other salicylates derive! Long story short: no. The conversion from salicin to salicylic acid requires an enzyme that is not found on the skin.
Physical property agents
Corn Starch: Makes the cream opaque and kind of squishy! If squishy is not scientific enough, corn startch alters the product’s viscosity, making it less watery and easier to apply.
Powdered Mica – confers a bone white color the mix.
Sodium Benozate, Ethylhexlglcerin, Cholorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol – All standard fare, I talked about some concerns about phenoxyethanol in my review of Algenist’s Anti-Aging lotion.
Fragrance is a broad and unfortunately nebulous term that can hide a lot of potential allergens. If the product makes you red or itchy, consider that you may be allergic to one of fragrance components. The only way to know for sure is for a test for skin allergies by a dermatologist.
First off, the bottle is about the size of my hand and contains probably 40-50 applications. The nozzle is pretty big – a godsend because the cream itself squeezes like cake frosting. Which I think makes it easier to distribute over the entire face The white cream is very light and generally, well, creamy, with an acceptable amount of graininess to it. Once applied, the cream is easy to spread but thick enough to stay where you put it. I always get a slight tingling sensation while using the product, but that may be due to the fact I use it in my beard area after shaving. A minute or two later, it rinses off cleanly! I found this exfoliant very mild -didn’t even irritate my relatively sensitive skin. After using it, my skin was noticeably smoother for the next 12 hours or so; I know you are not supposed to touch your face that much, but this was for science! Unfortunately, the effect tends to be temporary as my face felt like it always does the day after. So this is definitely something you have to do regularly to enjoy its benefits
+ Two methods of action
+ Definitely exfoliates well
+ Feels nice
+ Somewhat expensive
+ Exfoliants can be irritating
+ No longer term benefit (but that’s exfoliators in general)
As exfoliants go, this product does a good job of combining two approaches
into an easy-to-apply, gentle product. For those with mild acne or splotchy
complexion, (and some money to burn!), this product could help improve
your skin’s evenness, texture, and overall appearance. Overall, my advice
would be to make sure you have your ‘core’ skin care regimen – sunscreen,
moisturizer, retinoids, etc – in place before springing for an exfoliant. If that is
set, and you are looking for an addition, this exfoliant is a solid option!
Image Source: Dan4th