When autumn draws near and the air gets crisper and drier, it usually doesn’t take very long until our skin starts complaining and turns dull and flaky. Since this is not the cutest look to go with and since make-up wise, autumn more than any other season invites to get back to our darker brick, violet and wine shades, what better time to shop for a new exfoliant? After all, these indispensable beauty-helpers make our skin look more glowing and healthy as of the first use, they maximize the effects of any follow-up-product, help to fight and prevent break-outs and wrinkles and last, but not least, contribute to transforming our skin into that clean canvas our autumn colors need to look their best.
On my quest for a good exfoliant, I have recently tried The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Facial Cleansing Polish. On the packaging, it is described as a “daily radiance revealing wash with vitamin c rich Amazonian camu camu and Community Trade aloe vera”. In every beauty lover’s ears, the words “vitamin c” and “radiance” ring a bell, since high doses of vitamin C are known to be a potent chemical exfoliant.
I myself have used mechanical exfoliants for the longest time, mainly because when I started getting into skin care, they were pretty much the only thing available where I lived. At this time, I didn’t know anything about chemical exfoliants or the controversy on which kind to use. However, the question whether to chemically or mechanically exfoliate has caused an ongoing debate in the beauty world and dates back to the very early days: While the ancient greeks used ivory spatulas or blades to scrape off dead skin cells, the Egyptians and most famously Cleopatra trusted the benefits of lactic acid in their milk baths.
Recent research recommends to follow the Egyptian rather than the Greek example: Since the 1970ies and the discovery of the benefits of AHAs (about which I am going to talk in another post), chemical is advised over mechanical exfoliation, because the dissolving of keratin protein or the breaking of the bonds between the skin cells is more gentle than the physical removal of skin cells using abrasive substances, likely to cause micro-scratches, irritations or even inflammations.
When buying The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Facial Cleansing Polish, I was hoping to find a good chemical exfoliant, since, as I stated earlier, vitamin C is used for chemical exfoliation.
Sadly however, I ended up with an average, but clearly overpriced mechanical one! On my first night of using it, I was surprised to see that the product contained small peeling beads, which is rather unusual for a chemical exfoliant.
Since to product had been rather expensive (around 16 €) and I wanted to give it a proper try, I continued using it for several weeks, but not on a daily basis. The scent reminded me of bathroom cleansers a lot, which didn’t make the use any more pleasant. The only thing I really liked about this cleanser was the consistency. Whilst the product comes out as a rather liquid and transparent gel, it transforms into a lovely, thick, heavy, white consistency that feels really nice when being massaged onto your face. It certainly gives you the impression of a really thorough cleanse!
However, I had not purchased this self-proclaimed “polish” as a cleanser or make-up remover, but as a “radiance renewal” exfoliant. After a few weeks of not noticing any big difference in my skin’s appearance, I looked up the ingredients online and was shocked to see that this product practically does not contain any chemical exfoliants! The vitamin C content (that after all gives this product range its name) comes from “Amazonian camu camu” or “Myrciaria Dubia Fruit Extract, which is listed as the second-to-last-ingredient. Needless to say that since the dosage of this extract is so low and it is not even pure vitamin C, it cannot possibly do anything to your face in terms of exfoliation during the few seconds it is in contact with your skin. The second important active ingredient, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, is a stable, water soluble derivative of Vitamin C used as an antioxidant: Like vitamin C, it is known for its potential to boost skin collagen synthesis, but without having the same exfoliating effects. Thus, whilst MAP might be a great ingredient in serums for sensitive skin, it is pretty much useless in a rinse-off exfoliant, since it does not exfoliate in the first place and is washed off after only a few seconds.
To sum things up, The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Facial Cleansing Polish certainly is a nice and gentle scrub (the peeling beads are not rough or anything) for greasy skin that needs every step of the routine to be as thorough as possible: There is nothing bad to say about the ingredients, but I guess you could find a similar product for a bit less money. As a contribution to a gentle everyday chemical exfoliation however, The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Facial Cleansing Polish is not recommendable. In this case, an AHA or BHA exfoliant would definitely be a better way to go! In the next couple of days and weeks, I am going to try out a few AHA-products and let you know what I think of them. The first one is going to be Soap and Glory’s Scrub Your Nose In It: Keep your fingers crossed that this one is going to be more of a success 🙂