Dermalogica #MyFaceMyStory – Part II: Exfoliate

Let us start with the basics: no matter what part of the skin you’re working on, you should never go to bed wearing makeup and you need to drink a lot of water to hydrate yourself from the inside and out. No amount of flashy skincare products will ever replace that.

All parts of the face battles threats from inside the skin cells (loss of collagen) and pores; like bacteria growth, as well as from the outer environment with sunlight, pollution, free radicals, makeup, dirt etc constantly tearing at our skin barrier. On top of this comes my personal issue: those glasses. 

Even though several of the products I’m about to present in this mini-series in fact work well for all of the face (some of them might not even be recommended first hand for the eye area) I will try and discuss them in the light of the skin that you’ll see covered when wearing a sleeping mask: I’m talking eyes, bridge of the nose, upper cheeks, side of the head and ears. The area that is primarily affected when you wear glasses or sunglasses! Clear enough? Good!

I won’t discuss a proper cleansing routine and makeup removal in details because I find it to be pretty basic. However, there are some small rules that will make the results better and at the same time will shield the thin, sensitive skin around your eyes:

  1. Do not wash your face with HOT water. It will irritate and change the skin’s pH level if you soak it in too much water. Putting your face directly under the shower is like begging for trouble.
  2. Please don’t tug and pull on your skin! Instead of cleansing your eyes by rubbing them sideways (the direction in where you’ll see fine lines and wrinkles appear) try and wash it gently by swiping from the eyebrow bone, over the eyelid and down. Vertical direction is your friend.
  3. Instead of using a fabric cloth for your routine, try and switch to a sponge clot. Many brand’s sell them, including Dermalogica. They are gentle, soothing, hygienic and kind to the skin without leaving any residue behind.

I like to use a micellar water for eye makeup removal and then do my first cleansing with a cleansing balm (if wearing heavy makeup) followed by a gentle cleanse of a milk-product.

After this comes the fun part: Exfoliation. 

The very word may sound scary for those who are not invested in their skincare game but the fact is there is no other part of the routine as important as this. By exfoliating dead skin cells you’ll assist the skin by revealing healthy new skin layer, make sure that your pores won’t be covered and get clogged and your overall look of the skin will improve as the dullness and uneven skin tone will be addressed. It is a first step to a topical treatment – but the best part!

There are two “ways” when it comes to exfoliation: physical (by movement of your hands small particles and granules will polish away the dead skin) or chemical (when we let certain chemical ingredients eat up those deal layers). In the skincare community online it is surely a well discussed topic of which one of these to use but my personal opinion is this: consult a Dermatologist to really understand your own skin, then you can proceed to a Dermalogica counter where a professional and educated therapist will help you do a Face Mapping to assist with choosing the right products. I would never say that a therapist or a skincare expert is qualified to to the job of a Dermatologist, but they are experts in upholding and assisting your skin’s health. Use them both and understand that when it comes to exfoliation you can always combine the two types and you need to find a routine that is not abrasive to your skin but still effective. Here’s my two top alternatives and I’ve used the first one ever since it hit the market!

Dermalogica daily microfoliant®

As you detect from the name itself, it is the product I prefer to use on a daily basis. There are a number of similar products out on the market these days and I try to purchase and test them all simply because I think it is a brilliant and soothing way of exfoliate my skin! However, the daily microfoliant was my very first encounter with a rice enzyme powder.

I get blocked pores simply by breathing. It is very hard for me to keep any bacterial growth in my pores and I have to exfoliate. The main issue with my “sleep mask area” is all the parts of the skin that comes in contact with my glasses. I try and wash my glasses including the frames several times per day to prevent them from transferring dirt, sebum and makeup back into my skin. Never the less, the sit on the skin, lean on it and creates a physical block of my pores. Especially on the nose, upper cheeks and around my ears I tent to get small bumps that needs to be extracted. The problem is, doing extractions on such thin and delicate skin is hard. If I do it myself I will end up with small bruises. Not advisable! So, I have to exfoliate and them I go and visit my skincare therapist Cormei (located at Dermalogica on Burj, The Dubai Mall) as she is phenomenal when it comes to safe extractions!

Back to my daily microfoliant. What is it about it? This is a very gentle and brightening product. I find that it actually helps my under eye area form looking dark and dull. The powder contains of a fabulous rice-based formula that, when in contact with water releases all its active ingredients. This is the great part: all the good ingredients will stay calm until you add water to the product. On the site, the brand says that you should pour some powder into very wet hands and work up a paste. I prefer to use a small little bowl and a silicon spatula (from Sephora) to mix the paste into a great consistence. I apply it on damp skin and then let it sit for a minute before gently massaging it in and then wiping it off with a wet sponge cloth.

Let’s talk about some of the ingredients: first of all it contains Magnesium Oxide. It was discovered all the way back in 1754 and is built up by single molecules of magnesium and oxygen. The product can actually be found in concrete (!) and for a long time it was merely used as an additive ingredient in skincare. The great thing about it though is that it comes with a whooping pH of 10.3. As the skin should hold around pH-level 4.9 and all acids are much lower than that, the magnesium oxides help to neutralize the acids in a product so that the result ends up pretty close to what our skin likes!

In order to micro-exfoliate our skin, the product contains collodial Oatmeal and rice-enzymes. Now, this is not to be confused with your morning breakfast. The Collodial Oatmeal disperse evenly when mixed with water and creates a protecting shield for the skin. So while enzymes and acids are working on the exfoliation part, your skin will still have some assistance with holding on to its moisture level and be protected from getting irritated and red. It is amazingly gentle for the skin.

In the daily microfoliant you’ll basically find all of my most beloved enzymes and acids! It is hard not to jump up and down and I’ve actually never heard of any friend that have tried this product without seeing great immediate results. Papain; fruit enzyme derived from papaya combats any free radicals and together with Green Tea leaf oil, Licorice root extract and Ginko Biloba leaf extract they will form a smart cocktail for brightening effect to the skin. When ever I get small marks from those clogged pores, I can feel the product erasing them. It clearly assists the battle with my uneven skin tone. The product is soothing and calming while being effective, if that makes any sense?

For those much loved acids (yes, I love acids and I’m not afraid to say so) the most prominent one in the product is Salicylic Extract. As a BHA (Beta hydroxy acid) is one of the few acids that can actually penetrate the pores and clean them from the inside and out! Like wiping out a little bowl of bacterias. How can you not like that idea!? Out of all the acids, this one is my favourite 🙂

So there you have it: calming, soothing, protective while being brightening, exfoliating and cleaning out those pores. Every day my friends, I have it sitting on my bathroom sink and highly recommend!

Upon my latest facial with Cormei, she introduced me to my second product in the exfoliation range: Dermalogica multivitamin thermafoliant®.

I wanted to have something for a little more umpf, an exfoliator that could only be used a couple of days per week but with a stronger impact than of an every day exfoliator. There is no secret that I mostly use products from the AGESmart® range (who doesn’t want to age smart, lol) and this product is a part of that family. When I read online, the range is said to be targeting mature/premature ageing. I really dislike that information as it scares away people in my age of 34 as we might think: “Im not yet in that category”.

The truth is that it is the perfect time to start a preventing skincare routine to fight any premature ageing and with the climate I’m living in where we get sun, humidity, pollution and sand all over our faces it is about time that I start to address the needs.

The multivitamin thermafoliant is something as fancy as a “heath activating exfoliant”. Basically, the products start to work as it draws energy from the heath of your skin. Very techie indeed. Here you have a combination of physical and chemical exfoliating properties built into one product and although some might argue never to use any physical exfoliator on the eye area, I personally still uses it for this specific area. The ultra-fine micro granules in the product doesn’t feel at all abrasive to me and as I have oily eyelids but dry skin under my eyes (oh the joy) it pretty much addresses both situations.

On to the ingredients: this product is supposed to exfoliate and enhance the penetration of a multivitamin delivery to your skin. As with the previous product it contains Salicylic Acid and Licorice root extract. In addition it also holds Lactic Acid, basically derived from sour milk. It is an AHA (Alpha Hydroxy acid) and unlike Salicylic acid it can’t penetrate down into your pores. All AHAs work topically to eat away those pesky dead skin cells. Some claim lactic acid to be more gentle and not as likely to cause irritation as its sister, Glycolic acid (derived from sugar canes) and from my personal experience I prefer LA for my sensitive skin.

What is significant in difference between the two presented exfoliators is the fact that the multivitamin thermafoliant contains Retinol.

I believe this might be the most hyped ingredient in the skincare community of the year 2016; everyone needed it, everyone talked about it and some clearly voiced their opinion that only a product with very high concentration of retinol (which can only be prescribed by a Dermatologist) is the right way to do it.

I respectfully disagree.

Not on the fact that we need retinol per re. We absolutely do! The “anti-ageing” properties of it is well documented and it shows results. However, a medical grade retinol is kind of a though course to run on your skin. If you are like me, living in constant sunny climate and having very sensitive skin, even a low amount of retinol might be challenging for your skin. I think it is wise to start low and slow (less is more, and all that jazz) with a product like this to see how your skin tolerates and reacts to retinol as a whole.

For me, I have problem with even a higher concentration than 2.0 but as retinol is listed as ingredient no. 11 in this product, I can happily use it with amazing results. I would only recommend you to use this exfoliator in your nighttime routine and with every use of Vitamin A it is of course very important to follow up with an SPF if you’re getting any sun exposure during the day.

What I also enjoy with this product is that it delivers both Vitamin E and C straight onto the newly revealed fresh layer of the skin. I need them both for my uneven skin tone but mostly for the antioxidant properties; all small blocked pores where my glasses sits and the super thin skin around the eyes need all the help available to close off the environment I live in from causing any additional damage. Out of all the vitamins, I like my Vitamin E the very most and I always make sure to incorporate it in my skincare routines.

As this exfoliator is stronger than the first one, it is not recommended to use if you have had any professional chemical peel or if the skin is extremely sensitive and irritated. As with all skincare: good judgement applies and you should always do a patch test when adding a new product into your routine.

I hope this in-depth review will be helpful when you are choosing your exfoliator. Make sure to read and understand what the INCI-list is saying. Does it matches what your Dermatologist was recommending?

Next up, for Part III: the Dermalogica Antioxidant hydramist! 


Campaign products provided for review consideration, some of them already purchased and used privately


    1. Dear Rich! Thank you, it is my own personal skincare quest and even though it’s a part of the Dermalogica campaign, I still use these products and have been doing so for a long time. They provide visible results. xx, M

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