When I was a teenager I loved nothing more than exfoliating. I was obsessed with the idea of having a clean face, so I was reaching for tubes of grainy face wash and cleansing pads every five minutes. My poor, poor skin. Our faces aren’t made for harsh treatment! In fact, the body in general is reasonably good at taking care of itself. But once you add makeup, sunscreen, pollution, post-workout sweat etc to the mix, then the skin needs a little help. I still exfoliate, but I’m much gentler now, and selective with what I use.
Clockwise from the left: Omorovicza, The Ordinary, Dr Dennis Gross, Erno Laszlo, Origins, Shiseido, NuFace, Pixi.
Omorovicza Cleansing Balm $42-$97 AUD
Claims: Omorovicza has become wildly popular in recent times, so I’ve been excited to try them out. This isn’t an exfoliator, strictly speaking, but it professes to clear congested pores and draw out impurities. It’s rich with Hungarian moor mud and sweet almond oil.
Findings: The first time I put this on my face I hadn’t used a cleansing balm before so my immediate thought was ‘huh, this is waxy… how do I clean this off?’ and I won’t lie, I had concerns. But this balm is beloved for a reason! You must use a cloth or moist towel with this, and follow the directions. It’s thick and ever so slightly grainy. The scent is earthy, but pleasant. On the skin it melts and begins to feel like a cleansing oil. Very luxurious, it melts away the last traces of makeup and sunscreen. When I’m wearing makeup I always remove most of it with micellar water or makeup remover first, and I’d recommend that so you don’t have to use lots of the product (it is pretty expensive after all!) and also, take the time to massage it in. After washing my face my skin felt incredibly smooth and soft.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% HA 2% $12.70 AUD
Claims: The Ordinary are famous for stripped back packaging and ingredients, at an affordable price. Availability can be an issue as this line has really blown up. Lactic Acid offers mild exfoliation to cleanse and exfoliate, while Tasmanian Pepperberry soothes and supports.
Findings: First off, this serum is available in 10% strength which I use, and 5% if you want an even gentler experience. No scent is added, so it might not smell the prettiest, but there’s no lingering pungency. That’s a comfort to know, right? The first couple of times I used this there was tingling, but my skin seems to have gotten used to it pretty quickly. It’s a bit drying which is common for any acids, so just make sure you have a good moisturiser to hand. I’m seeing a difference in skin texture, it seems to be gradually smoother and more even in texture and appearance. One last thing- Use this at night, and wear lots of sunscreen during the day!
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel $23-$216 AUD
Claims: Made for all skin types, these pads will clean, exfoliate and brighten! A two step process, and one of the first popular exfoliating pads out there. Anti-aging and texture refining.
Findings: My Mum and I used to use these! Now you might be wondering why I say ‘used to’. Honestly, we just ran out of them one day and forgot to repurchase and moved on to other products. I got this little sample in Sephora’s Skincare Lovers box this year and was reminded how much I used to love these pads! In all honestly I’d probably be better off using the gentlest version of these because my skin is pretty sensitive. The two step process certainly feels like it’s doing something- there will be some redness and tingling, but it shouldn’t be painful as such. Don’t try these right before you’re going somewhere! Do it at night, and be gentle in applying pressure! Skin is left plump and smooth.
Erno Laszlo White Marble Treatment Bar $80 AUD
Claims: A creamy bar that exfoliates and clarifies to tackle discolouration. Suitable for all skin types!
Findings: I love Erno Laszlo. I first read about the brand because Audrey Hepburn used it and if it’s good enough for Audrey- well, you get the picture. I like using cleansing bars when I’m feeling especially into the ritual aspect of skincare. This bar offers gentle exfoliation, it lathers up to something creamy and moisturising and washes off to leave the skin feeling super smooth. Using this type of cleanser can seem a little tricky as you’ve got to have somewhere to leave the bar so it can dry between uses, but I really like it.
Origins Modern Friction $28-$57 AUD
Claims: Serious exfoliation without the irritation. A pick me up using rice starch, lemon oil and aloe.
Findings: I’ve had a few Origins products over the years and I’m fond of them, but in all honesty this was a bit too gritty for my liking. It wasn’t painful, and my skin felt pretty good afterwards, but there are other things on the market that are gentler with just as good (or better) results. I used a sample sized sachet and it was pleasant enough, but I don’t think I’ll be buying it. If your skin is on the oiler side and you like physical exfoliation then you might enjoy it more.
Shiseido WASO Polisher Check in store Myers + David Jones for pricing.
Claims: A ‘soft and cushy’ gentle skin polisher with botanical granules.
Findings: I love the scent of Shiseido’s WASO range. LOVE IT. I’ve tried several products in the line and I’d recommend them all. They smell light and divine and feel so good on the skin! This polisher has little granules in it, so it is more like old school exfoliators. However, it is a gentle version and seems to agree with my skin pretty well. I’m always wary of anything that I think might scratch up my skin, but this left me feeling clean and not red faced. I use this once a week or so, if I feel like I’ve been wearing a lot of sunscreen or had a really sweaty workout. Great on a Friday evening at the end of a long week when I just want to feel super clean.
NuFace Prep-N-Glow $14-$28 AUD
Claims: Individual dual sided wipes to exfoliate and prepare the skin in multiple, efficient ways.
Findings: When I read up on this product I had my doubts and figured this would be too much for my skin. But then I tried it, and now, like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. After using this my skin felt super clean, smooth and even brighter! It created a great canvas for my makeup, which is a bonus. The cloth has two sides, the first is smooth and removes makeup, dirt etc. The second side is bumpy, which is kind of unusual. I didn’t love the way the bumpy side felt, it almost hurt, but I was surprised that afterwards my skin didn’t feel irritated. The exfoliating side goes against what I’d usually look for in a product, but I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I might buy a few more of these wipes and see how they work out.
Pixi Glow Tonic $10-$45 AUD
Claims: A gentle exfoliating toner for even, clear, bright skin.
Findings: Have I saved the best for last? Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like this tonic has had such an immediate and lasting effect on my complexion. I have become so attached to my precious bottle of Glow Tonic, if I couldn’t get my hands on more I would flip out. I mean it. Most of us have heard great things about this product, and I’d been meaning to try it for ages, but it was a little difficult to get my hands on it for a while there. Now I want to fill my cupboard with bottles. The scent is mild and nondescript, the container is cheerful looking. I (carefully) pour this onto a cotton pad and wipe it over my face in upward circular movements. It preps the skin beautifully for makeup, and is the first thing I reach for post-shower. Try this if you haven’t, and try it now.
So there we are! I’m sure there’ll be a part two to this, I know I want to talk about Drunk Elephant’s JuJu Cleansing Bar, using muslin cloth with cleansers, the Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream- The list goes on! And please, let me know what you guys are using and loving. One last reminder before I go: Always be extra careful and use a good broad spectrum sunscreen when using any of these products to avoid extra sun damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer.