Sometimes you try something new and it just changes your whole game and you never look back. That's how it was with me and chemical exfoliants. In just a few short months I went from strictly physical exfoliation to being all about the chemicals.
The whole thing started at a fab little shop called oo35mm in New York's Chinatown. I can be seen there often, picking out new things to try and hashtagging them #cheapthrills. (What else do you call four sheet masks, pore strip goop, and a tube of mascara for under $20?)
The shop girls at 0035mm turned me on to two chemical exfoliants, Cure Natural Aqua Gel and Meishoku Delclear Peeling Jelly (Cure's less-expensive dupe), both of which are available in store and online.
Cure's gel is one of the top-selling products in Japan. The gist of its appeal is that it's gentler than a AHA/BHA exfoliant, but effective enough to remove dead skin cells in a unique manner. Meishoku's gel is similar, but with the AHA and BHA components we're used to seeing. Both aim to softly and thoroughly exfoliate skin anywhere on the body without irritation or damage.
I tried both gels on my hand while I was in the store and was immediately intrigued. After applying and allowing to slightly dry, I rubbed the product in a circular motion until little balls of presumed dead skin began to roll under my fingertips. After a few weeks of use, I compared the two formulas on their key criteria.
Cure Natural Aqua Gel vs. Meishoku Delclear Facial Peeling Gel
PRICE: Penny for penny, the Cure gel (16 cents per mL) is twice the cost of the Meishoku gel (8 cents per mL). The Cure bottle is 30 percent larger than the Meishoku, though, so if they were both 180mL, the comparison would be 15/30 or 20/40.
APPLICATION: One to two pumps of product is all you need on clean, dry skin. Cure gel can be a bit runnier, so be careful of your eyes. Both gels bonded with dead skin cells using polymers and were activated by gentle sloughing. However, the Meishoku product created larger balls of dead skin and product.
PERFORMANCE: My skin felt super smooth after using both gels, and I also noticed that my serums and moisturizers absorbed better post-gel. Cure was the better exfoliator, though.
OVERALL: Both products helped with the blackhead/sebaceous filament situation on my nose and chin. I can still see the chin filaments, but they don’t feel raised and bumpy anymore. Which one would I repurchase? Though I can be cheap, the Cure gel is still surprisingly full after five to seven uses. It’s one of those purchases that hurts when you make it, but hurts more when you aren’t using it.
I would definitely recommend using either of these products as a gentle exfoliator a few times a week. In my experience, healing zits shed skin in one big flake after use. I kind of love that, because it keeps me from peeling, picking, and squeezing. On whether the balling effect is really dead skin, I could care less, because people have been complimenting my skin quite a bit in the past few weeks since I started using these products.
Have you tried either of these? What about other gel-based chemical exfoliants?
Photos: Darnell Scott