the microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel
The microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel is a 2-step kit that consists of a leave-on exfoliant (the "peel") and a lightweight moisturizer. Although this duo has its strong points for all skin types, it's pricey for what you get, and not as gentle as philosophy claims.
The "step I: alpha/beta hydroxy leave-on peel solution" is a fluid gel that contains a mix of AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid), as well as a BHA (salicylic acid). The exact amounts aren't included on the packaging or on philosophy's website. Calls to the company only revealed that the amount of AHA and BHA ingredients used is "proprietary."
Based on the ingredient list for the step I, we're speculating that it contains at least a 5% mix of glycolic and lactic acids, and less than a 1% concentration of salicylic acid. Combined, these will exfoliate skin, but the 4.1 pH of the peel is just outside the optimum range for exfoliation.
The cotton pads philosophy includes for applying step I are soft, sturdy, and a step above what you typically find at the drugstore. That aside, there isn't much to the peel other than its exfoliating ingredients and slip agents. It contains a likely insignificant amount of denatured alcohol, and the same is true for the fragrance ingredient vanillyl butyl ether.
2-3 minutes after applying step I, it's time to apply step II. Housed in a jar, "step II: youth-extending night gel" has an initially pudding-like texture that thins out when applied to skin. It feels soothing, and contains some plant-based anti-irritants as advertised, but the amount of fragrance (which lingers on skin) is cause for concern. This prompts the question: What's fragrance doing in a product that's said to be so gentle?
The night gel is claimed to work "by enhancing the ability of new skin cells to resist visible signs of aging." While it does contain a tiny amount of the cell-communicating adenosine and a couple of peptides, these ingredients aren't proven to make skin cells more resistant to signs of aging—especially not when packaged in a jar (as step II is).
While the lightweight textures and easy application of the microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel kit are commendable, excess fragrance and ingredients like denatured alcohol keep this 2-step system from being as gentle as it's made out to be. You'll find gentler, effective, and less expensive options on our list of Best Exfoliants.
- Step I contains a potentially effective mix of alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
- Easy to apply with the supplied, deluxe cotton pads.
- Steps I and II are fragranced.
- Expensive considering the number of great AHA exfoliants that cost less.
- Step II packaged in a jar, hindering some of its plant extracts.
- Contains too many potentially problematic ingredients to be considered a gentle peel.
Jar Packaging & Anti-Aging Formulas: The fact that step two of this anti-aging kit (youth-extending night gel) is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars can also be unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
When shopping for an anti-aging moisturizer, the ingredients that provide the most benefit in treating wrinkles or other signs of aging are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what you expose them to when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Strengths: Relatively inexpensive;some of the best products are fragrance-free; very good retinol products; selection of state-of-the-art moisturizers; innovative skin-brightening product.
Weaknesses: Irritating and/or drying cleansers; average to problematic scrubs; at-home peel kits far more gimmicky than helpful; several products contain lavender oil; several products include irritating essential oils;the majority of makeup items do not rise above average status.
Believe in miracles. That's the "lifestyle" branding statement philosophy makes, which is an approach that is decidedly different from their former positioning, which encompassed family values and spirituality along with a dash of department-store lan and endearingly clever quips. The miracle angle may grab your attention, but the company is also quick to point out that its history is steeped in providing products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide (so, in addition to miracles, philosophy has a serious side, too). Although its heritage may have included providing clinically oriented products to doctors,we have yet to see or hear of any medical professional retailing philosophy products. And that's a good thing because, by and large, most of philosophy products are resounding disappointments. Moreover, several products, including almost all of their sunscreens, contain one or more known skin irritants. We would be extremely suspicious of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who recommended such products to their patients, and even more so if they actually believed some of the more farfetched claims philosophy makes.
Interestingly, when you shop this line at department stores or at the cosmetics boutique Sephora, what you'll notice is the preponderance of food- and drink-scented bath products, all in vivid colors or cutely boxed for gift-giving. It seems that somewhere along the way, the company decided to promote these nose-appeal products while downplaying their more serious-minded, simply packaged skin care. Perhaps the body lotions and bubble baths have become philosophy's bread and butter. Given the hit-or-miss nature of their facial-care products, that's not surprising. Then again, they've also heavily promoted their anti-aging-themed Miracle Worker products...
So what's to like if you're into the vibe philosophy puts out? Well, this is still a line with some well-formulated staples, including an AHA product, some retinol options, and a handful of state-of-the-art moisturizers. The products that get the most promotion at the counter are the ones you should avoid, such as the at-home peels, scrubs, pads, and anti-acne products. However, the somewhat confusing, conflicting image philosophy presents shouldn't keep you from considering their best products, but it's not a lifestyle brand in the sense that using the entire line will somehow bring you a more joyful existence, or significantly improved skin. The philosophy line is now owned by Coty, a cosmetics brand primarily known for their fragrances. Their acquisition of philosophy is their first major foray into a widely-distributed skin care brand.
For more information about philosophy, call (800) 568-3151 or visit www.philosophy.com.
Note: philosophy opts to use lowercase letters for every product they sell, so the listings below are simply following suit.
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.