Thursday, 10 May 2018

Best Exfoliating Masks and Peels for Bright, Clear Skin

Best Exfoliating Masks and Peels for Bright, Clear Skin - Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel, Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, Herbivore Blue Tansy, REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial, Makeup Artist's Choice 20% Glycolic Acid

As a confessed skincare junkie, I have tested out a lot of masks and peels in my day. I still love to go for a professional facial and peel at a spa when I have the time (and am somewhere where there is a reputable spa), but for the most part, I get by with at-home facial treatments. My favorite of which is undoubtedly a good chemical exfoliating mask or peel. I am fortunate that my skin is ultra un-sensitive, so I can easily test out a lot of exfoliating products without worrying about having an adverse reaction. And I am a person who actually needs a ton of exfoliation, as my skin is very prone to congestion. Ever since I discovered that I need to use strong acids everyday, my skin has dramatically changed for the better—although I have the occasional clogged pore or blemish, gone are the breakouts and cystic acne that I suffered from into my late 20s.

I am unsure whether my skin's tolerance to acids has always been so high, or if it is a result of acclimation over the years. What I do know is that I did start my acid journey with one of the more mild products on my list, the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal. I would generally recommend that anyone new to acids start of with a mild one until they can ascertain their own tolerance. But as you gauge what you need and want to try, here are some thoughts on a few of my faves:

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask: I would rate this as moderate in terms of strength and very strong in terms of smell. If you like pumpkin pie, or autumn in general, the scent of this mask will be a treat. I am normally not partial to physical exfoliants, but this combines physical exfoliation (with aluminum oxide crystals) with chemical exfoliation (with pumpkin enzymes and AHAs).

Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel (now renamed as the Instant Transformation Lemon Facial Peel): This is tied (with the Makeup Artist's Choice Glycolic Peel) for my all time favorite exfoliating mask. It is not for the faint hearted—this offers some serious exfoliation and has a noticeable tingle when you first apply it, although this sensation does dissipate as you leave the mask on. This mask does a phenomenal job of tightening pores, giving radiance, and leaving your skin super soft. Whenever my skin is going through a rough time, I use this mask and follow it up with one of my favorite deep cleansing masks (usually either the Aesop Parsley Seed Masque or May Lindstrom The Problem Solver). Why hardly anyone talks about this product has always been a mystery to me, as I recommend it to anyone who is serious about chemical exfoliation.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask: This is probably my least favorite of the bunch, but I wanted to include it as so many people rave about this product. If you are new to chemical exfoliation and/or have sensitive skin, I would recommend starting with this or the REN mask. The Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask uses BHAs and fruit enzymes as its exfoliating agents. The consistency is similar to a marmalade and it has a subtle citrusy scent. The primary reason I am not crazy about this mask is that it is simply not strong enough for me. I don't notice any effect when I use it, so I rarely reach for it. But that probably makes it the ideal starter mask.

Best Exfoliating Masks REN, Herbivore, Ole Henriksen, Drunk Elephant, Makeup Artist's Choice, Peter Thomas Roth, Tata Harper
Back Row, L to R: REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Herbivore Blue Tansy Mask, Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel
Middle, L to R: Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial, Makeup Artist's Choice 30% Glycolic Peel
Front, L to R: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask: When I first got into masking, this was my ultimate. I used it probably around once a week, and I think this is my third tube. The packaging is super hygienic. Within the plastic unit, the product is housed in an airless bag that compresses as you pump the product out. This means that air won't get into your product and cause oxidation, making it ideal if you don't go through products super fast. Like the Tata Harper, it also has a marmalade-like texture and a citrusy smell. But I do think it's a tad bit stronger than the Tata Harper. I don't reach for it as much as I used to, since I now prefer stronger masks, but it's still a great one.

Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask: I am still in the midst of forming my opinion on this mask, as I've only used it a handful of times, but so far, my impressions are good.  Like the Peter Thomas Roth, it falls into the 'moderate' category in terms of strength. I love that it has AHAs and BHAs, as I really like to use a combo of both to combat all my skincare woes--clogged pores, blemishes, dullness, fine lines, etc. It feels very cooling on the skin, thanks to the blue tansy and aloe leaf.

Best Exfoliating Masks REN, Herbivore, Ole Henriksen, Drunk Elephant, Makeup Artist's Choice, Peter Thomas Roth, Tata Harper


Makeup Artist's Choice 30% Glycolic Peel: This is a fairly obscure choice, but if I had to choose, as I mentioned above, this is tied for my favorite. I would strongly urge you to only undertake this peel if a) you have had a successful professional peel with an esthetician; or b) you are very confident your skin can handle it. Either way, do a small test patch of this before you go in on your whole face. A huge perk of this peel is that it is super effective, but relatively inexpensive and comes with a pH prep solution. Since you only need a very small amount each time, I always buy the smallest size and it lasts ages. On a cleansed face, use the pH prep solution, allow to dry for a minute or so, and then use the Glycolic solution (it will tingle, but it shouldn't burn). The difference this product makes on my skin is immediately noticeable; it's softer, clearer, and more even. I really can't say enough good things about it.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial: Although this is a super-hyped up product, and I do like it, I want to start off this review by saying that I think the Makeup Artist's Choice does the same thing for my skin, but for literally 1/4 of the price. In any case, the Babyfacial is more readily accessible and you can always return it if it doesn't work, which is something the Makeup Artist's Choice doesn't offer. Like the Herbivore, the Babyfacial has both AHAs and BHAs. It is an unusual cream-like texture (as opposed to the gels of many of the other products on this list) and it does have a smell that is noticeable (to me, at least) when you first apply it. It also tingles, as it offers a strong exfoliation, so be prepared for that (but if it burns, wash it off). My skin is softer and clearer after using this, but I would recommend other more affordable options. Still, it's worth giving a try if it meets your requirements.

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