Exfoliation is pretty important to quickly remove acne marks, soften my skin, and speed up the removal of dark spots or splotches over my face. I find because of all of these skin issues that I need multiple products meant for the different stages of my skin. Also, I need to adjust my skincare for seasonally appropriate products. My skin in the summer is far greasier than it is in the winter, when it is generally drier. I will not be using very emollient exfoliating products in the summer, while I will not use very drying products in the winter. However, if my acne situation is BAD, I will blitzkrieg those suckers. I like the scorched earth method. Sorry.
While none of the products I have pictured above are “peels” – you don’t wash them off after a certain amount of time, they do the same thing: exfoliate large areas of skin, by loosening and lifting dead skin cells, allowing them to be washed away. These exfoliating products, whether they come in gels, lotions, or creams, are more concentrated exfoliating products than scrubs, masks, and cleansers. They use various acids to remove the top dead layer of skin revealing luminous, newer skin.
I wondered how I should list them, but I have decided to list from most intensive peeling/exfoliating action to the gentlest. Also, if you find that you skin feels uncomfortable with these on for too long, you can essentially wash it off for the desired effect without irritation.
MD Forte Facial Lotion III, 2.0 oz for $71.00
The Facial Lotion III comes from the best brand for strong, but surprisingly not irritating glycolic acids, MD Forte. While it’s not the cheapest line, it’s also not the most expensive, and actually comes in a bit cheaper than typical designer/boutique skincare brands. The packaging is not the most attractive, but the no-frills products in this line simply work for the oiliest and most non-reactive skins. MD Facial Lotion III contains the highest concentration of glycolic compound in the line – 30% – and is suitable for people looking for significant skin correction. The literature for this lotion says that it can be used under and over makeup – UM NO. Do not use this under or over makeup. I tried doing this and it just turned in to a weird texture on my face, plus I think it’s too aggressive to use to go out in daylight. I would need to shellac my skin with thick white sunscreen.
The texture is watery as you apply it to your skin and it dries down to this weird light eggshell-like finish on the skin. This bottle lasts FOREVER. This is only the second bottle I have purchased and I have it for several years. This is definitely more of a nighttime treatment. No reason to let pesky UV rays penetrate your skin with this on.
I find this has a mild tingling effect that is NOT uncomfortable. Sometimes I leave it on overnight for rapid retexturizing of my skin, and other times I use this as the first step in a more intensive treatment. Glycolic acid is great for smoothing and degreasing skin, but it doesn’t actually penetrate oily pores, and I need that as well. So, I leave it on only for an hour or so to quickly loosen the top dead layer of skin, and wash it off to use a second oil-penetrating treatment product to penetrate my pores, or an acne busting mask made with tons of natural actives. I will then coat my skin in a gentle, natural oil elixir, or oil-based balm to soothe it.
MD Forte’s Face Lotion is best for non-sensitive, thicker-skinned, rougher textured, oily, acne-prone skin. I wouldn’t use this if your skin irritates easily.
Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid (and) Ammonium Glycolate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.
Neostrata Gel Plus AHA, 3.4 oz for $42.00
Here is a surprise. Neostrata’s Gel Plus AHA is actually more irritating and uncomfortable to use than the MD Forte Lotion III. This is surprising because this gel only has 15% glycolic acid, while the MD Forte has a 30% glycolic acid concentration. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of the denatured alcohol in the Neostrata that made it not so pleasant to use. Here’s a clue, when you are working with strong acids, YOU DON’T NEED DENATURED ALCOHOL. This is gel formula that is best used on oily, acne-prone individuals who have super tough, non-resistant skin. This achieves the same results as the MD Forte Facial Lotion, but I find it less comfortable to use, although I can use it in the exact same way. Only the toughest, most non-resistant skin types should use this, if you don’t like stinging or the feeling of irritation. I would not repurchase this. I would definitely suggest this for men and women with severe sun damaged, thickened skin that needs rapid exfoliation and smoothing.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA
B. Kamins Lactic -10, 1.0 oz for $40.00
Lactic acid is considered one of the more gentle exfoliating acids for individuals who can’t tolerate glycolic acids, and it is especially recommended for individuals who have darker pigmented skin. Lactic acid, unlike glycolic acid, has a moisturizing effect that works well on drier skin types. I often see lactic acid-based products suggested for individuals who are trying to rid themselves of hyperpigmentation marks in a gentle way without kicking up more hyperpigmentation that can result from irritated skin.
I picked up the B-Kamins Lactic – 10 as a gentle peeling product I could rotate in with my stronger glycolic acids. Of course, sometimes I can go overboard, so the first time I used this I was using a glycolic acid heavy skincare routine. OUCH. Even gentler acids need to be used with care, and this is actually quite strong for a gentle acid, which I appreciated, so I scaled down. When used this with the appropriate skincare regimen, I found that this product moderately exfoliated my skin, while penetrating my pores because of the salicylic acid it contained. It also did not dry out my skin and left a bit of moisture behind, which was surprising. This is likely due to the proprietary maple isolate.
The one quirk this product has is the delivery mechanism. The peel solution emerges from a woven nylon fabric pad that you press into the skin area by area. It can be a little labor intensive. On the otherhand, it makes over application very difficult. This is not a slap and go lotion. This is a press, press, press solution. I think it takes me about a minute to move around my skin. Obviously, your skin should be recently washed when you use this otherwise the top could become grimey.
The product literature says this is for sensitive skinned individuals. However, I think it may be too strong an active for truly sensitive, irritable skin types. This is definitely a good peeling lotion for those with normal – dry skin. My skin does experience mild tingling from this product, and my skin is less irritation prone than most. However, this product does not dry out my skin and does leave a moisturized feel.
Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Lactic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Acer Saccharum (Maple Isolate/Isolat D’érable), PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Octoxynol-12, Polysorbate 20, Panthenol, Zinc PCA, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.
Neostrata Bionic Lotion, 3.4 oz for $38.00
Now, if you are looking for a exfoliating lotion you can use on sensitive dry skin, or irritated and dried out oily skin, then THIS is what I suggest. Neostrata’s Bionic Lotion is a moisturizing lotion that gently exfoliates the skin while adding non-greasy moisture to the skin. This lotion uses special moisture binding 12% gluconolactone and 3% lactobionic acid, along with vitamin e to create softened, smoothed comfortable skin.
The product literature says that this can be used on skin that is sensitive, dry to very dry, and even skin with eczema. It can also be used as a post-procedure treatment on very sensitized skin. I use this in the fall, winter, and spring when I go nuts with drying agents and my skin is tight, dry and sensitive, but my skin is feeling especially acneic. However, I would feel a little more wary of using this in the hot, humid summer on my very acne-prone, massive oil producing pores that break out if I don’t wash my skin multiple times a day to deslick. But for you dry, sensitive skinned folks, this is a great ACTIVE gentle. Just as gentle as REN’s glyco-lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, but with actual “actives” that do something “noticeable” to your skin.
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Gluconolactone, Propylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lactobionic Acid, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sorbitan Stearate, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Arginine, Sodium Bisulfite, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Sulfite, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Laureth-7, Ammonium Hydroxide, Cetyl Alcohol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Ethoxydiglycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin