Housed in a very sleek cardboard package are seven tiny vials of an AHA exfoliant, in varying strengths. The claim for this at-home peel is that you apply the contents of one vial each night (rather than your regular exfoliant—assuming you have one in your daily routine) and in a week's time you'll see smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin. The convoluted application isn't necessary to get these results from a great AHA or BHA product, and in this case you will end up with more problems than benefits.
The formula in the Day 1 vial is supposedly the weakest, Day 2 through Day 4 vials are somewhat stronger, and the Day 5 through Day 7 vials are the most important – the idea being that this allows your skin to build a tolerance to the formula day by day. Again, this type of application (and the ridiculous cost) isn't necessary, but the main problem is that using this system for a week exposes your skin not only to the irritation that might be caused by the AHA, but also to other irritating ingredients. This product is in no way the equivalent of an AHA peel a dermatologist can provide, and is easily replaced by superior (and less expensive) options on our list of Best AHA Exfoliants.
The chief irritating ingredient in some of these vials is alcohol; it's not present in the Days 2, 3, and 4 formulas, but is present in the Days 1, 6, and 7 formulas. The latter also include the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate, which will cause a tingling sensation when you apply it. That tingling isn't a sign these peels are stronger; it's a sign that the menthyl lactate is irritating your skin. This is insane to us! Why anyone would add absolutely useless, nonbeneficial, irritating ingredients to an AHA exfoliant is beyond us. This is bad skin care, from any angle. See More Info to learn why alcohol in skin-care products is a problem.
In terms of exfoliation, each day's formula is within the correct pH range for the AHA glycolic acid (and, in the case of Days 1, 5, 6, and 7, the BHA salicylic acid) to exfoliate. Despite the fact that the formula for Days 5–7 is supposed to be stronger, it has a higher pH (thus making the AHA and BHA less effective). Although the AHA glycolic acid is listed second or third on the ingredient list in each day's vial, the company doesn't reveal how much you're getting, so you're left to guess, something we never encourage with ingredients like this.
It's absolutely true that exfoliating with an AHA or BHA product will lead to smoother, firmer, more even toned, and, yes, brighter-looking skin, but this at-home peel is more gimmicky and potentially more problematic than useful. You can achieve better results from leave-on exfoliants don't include the irritating ingredients!
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
This intensive week-long skincare regimen is specially designed to reveal your best skin ever-brighter, clearer, smoother and more even-toned. Each daily vial addresses the needs of skin and builds on the benefits of the day before to detoxify, reinvigorate and fortify resulting in a revitalized and renewed complexion.
Day 1: Water (Aqua/Eau), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Hydroxide, Phytic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Soil Minerals, Superoxide Dismutase.
Day 1 pH = 3.5
Day 2-4: Water (Aqua/Eau), Glycolic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Phytic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Soil Minerals, Superoxide Dismutase, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin.
Days 2–4 pH = 3.5
Day 5-7: Water (Aqua/Eau), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Polyquaternium-10, Ammonium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Phytic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicylic Acid, Superoxide Dismutase, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Soil Minerals, Hydroxyethylcellulose.
Days 5–7 pH = 3.8
Bare Escentuals At-a-Glance
Makeup is what this San Francisco-based cosmetics line is primarily about, and they use the pure and natural marketing angle to entice consumers. Founded in 1976 by Diane Ranger, who left the company in the early '90s Bare Escentuals was one of the first brands to introduce the concept of loose powder foundation. Since then, they have moved beyond it to include liquid foundations and tinted moisturizers and an ever expanding line of color cosmetics as well as skincare products.
The products are sold in most Sephora boutiques and Ulta stores, though the full selection of skincare products is most often found at the Bare Escentuals freestanding stores scattered throughout the United States.
We should note that loose powder makeup does take some practice to get the hang of—yet there is no denying that this type of foundation has its fan base. There is a lot to love about Bare Escentuals, even if mineral makeup isn’t your thing (especially their price ranges, which have remained affordable in comparison to many of their neighbors at Sephora).
Strengths: Good makeup removers; a few well-formulated powders with SPF; some nice eyeshadows and impressive mascaras; some impressive foundations; several elegant brush options; not too expensive.
Weaknesses: Some of the loose powder products have texture and finish concerns; some of the skincare contain potentially problematic ingredients.
For more information about Bare Escentuals, call 1.888.795.4747 or visit www.bareescentuals.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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