Facial Radiance AHA Intensive Peel Extra Strength
First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance AHA Intensive Peel Extra Strength is a renamed, repackaged version of their original Facial Radiance Intensive Peel. The former jar packaging has been replaced by an opaque squeeze tube, but sadly, the ingredients remain the same, so this retains its middle-of-the-road rating.
This rinse-off exfoliant contains the alpha hydroxy acid lactic acid, although First Aid Beauty doesn’t specify the amount. Based on its placement in the ingredient list, we suspect it’s between 3-5%, an acceptable range for exfoliation, but there’s a slight problem: It seems the brand increased the pH of this product. Their goal may have been to make it gentler, but this also makes the lactic acid a little less effective. The original formula had a pH of 3.6, while the updated version lands at 4.1, just outside the ideal range of pH 3-4 that AHAs need to most effectively exfoliate.
The same pH guideline applies to salicylic acid, two forms of which are also in this peel. We doubt either form of salicylic acid is doing much beyond being soothing, since the amounts included here are likely less than 0.5%.
A unique aspect of this peel is it looks and feels like a clay mask; indeed, absorbent clays kaolin, silt, and bentonite are among the first few ingredients, making this peel most suitable for normal to oily skin.
Although this is easy to apply and rinse (and the tube packaging helps keep its delicate ingredients stable during use), the peel isn’t left on skin long enough to deliver peel-like results. First Aid Beauty recommends rinsing after 45 seconds, and then gradually increasing wear time to between one and three minutes based on how your skin responds.
Because the ingredients didn’t change, the formula still contains sensitizing lavender and grapefruit extracts, unusual additions from the typically gentle lineup First Aid Beauty offers. Yes, this contains some soothing plant extracts, too, but those should be free to help your skin without having to deal with tamping the irritation risk fragrant plants present.
We say avoid this peel and look to gentler, leave-on options from our list of best exfoliants.
- Absorbs excess oil.
- Easy to apply and rinse.
- Packaged to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredient stable.
- Total concentration of acids isn’t revealed.
- Not left on skin long enough to have significant textural improvements.
- Lavender and grapefruit pose a risk of irritating skin (and negate the fragrance-free claim indicated on product packaging).
This unique combination of acids, lactic, and salicylic, and mushroom enzyme work synergistically with clay to help improve the look of skin’s texture and clarity. This non-abrasive, extra-strength exfoliating peel helps to resurface, smoothen, and brighten skin by removing dead skin cells.
First Aid Beauty At-A-Glance
Strengths: Several fragrance-free products; relatively reasonable pricing; sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection; wonderful fragrance-free body wash.
Weaknesses: AHA pads contain a low amount of glycolic and lactic acids; some products contain fragrant plant extracts; every product contains feverfew extract, which has benefits, but also can be an irritant; jar packaging; for a line meant for sensitive skin, their use of common irritants is disappointing.
With a name like First Aid Beauty (FAB for short), it's obvious this line is meant to rescue your skin from distress, and, indeed, these products are targeted toward those who have sensitive, easily irritated skin, but who still want an elegant, department-store flair. Ironically, FAB falls short on both ends of the spectrum.
Despite the company's claims of providing "therapeutic action" for "tough skin conditions," some of the products contain irritating ingredients that are extremely problematic for any skin type, especially for those with sensitive or compromised skin. It was disappointing to see known irritants like sulfur, balsam resin, and witch hazel in products claiming to calm your skin and reduce redness. "What were they thinking?" was a question that came up more than once while reviewing this line!
On the bright side, First Aid Beauty does have a very good fragrance-free body wash. There are also a few products that omit the fragrance, which is a definite must for sensitive skin, although, in fact, all skin types do best with fragrance-free products. Unfortunately, the fragrance-free formulas in this line come up short on important ingredients, like antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.
It is best to avoid their Ultra Repair Cream, the SPF 30 sunscreen, Detox Eye Roller, Blemish Eraser, and the Anti-Redness Serum because they all contain enough irritating ingredients to make conditions like acne, redness, and sensitivity worse.
For more information about First Aid Beauty, visit your local Sephora or Ulta or call (800) 322-3619 or visit www.firstaidbeauty.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.