What an unusual product! Facial Radiance Intensive Peel looks like a mud mask you'd apply for oily skin, but is actually an AHA and BHA rinse-off exfoliant that also contains a mushroom-derived enzyme (referred to as "Actizyme") that's said to renew skin. Let's take a peek inside this mixed bag so you can determine if this peel is right for you.
First, the good: Facial Radiance Intensive Peel contains what appears to be an effective amount of the AHA ingredient lactic acid as its chief exfoliating ingredient. Coupled with this product's pH of 3.6, you're going to get effective exfoliation—though ideally an AHA product should be left on skin longer than the maximum of 5 minutes First Aid Beauty advises.
We're also happy to see this formula is packed with plant-derived soothing agents that help reduce potential stinging from the lactic acid and lower pH. Such additions are welcome to any AHA exfoliant! However, the formula also contains a couple of known problematic plant extracts, including lavender and grapefruit.
Things go further off course with the poor choice of jar packaging—a decision that won't help keep the plant extracts stable and effective once opened—and this includes the mushroom-derived enzyme ingredient, listed as Mucor miehei. See More Info to learn why this type of packaging isn't ideal for a skin-smoothing, anti-aging formula like this.
The other issue (and possibly the reason you're directed not to leave this on skin for more than five minutes) is that the clay, charcoal, and other absorbent ingredients this gray-tinged cream contains can begin to feel drying, so this isn't a versatile exfoliant for all skin types; it's best for combination to oily skin.
As for the salicylic acid that's also present, we suspect the amount is too low for it to have much impact on skin—the lactic acid is doing most of the work.
Given this product's fairly even mix of pros and cons, it's not one we can recommend with much enthusiasm. See our list of Best Exfoliants for superior options.
This anti-aging, rinse-off exfoliant is packaged in a jar, which means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable for long once it's opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients are air-sensitive and begin to break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective.
Jars are also unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, contaminating the product. This leads to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
When shopping for an anti-aging moisturizer, the ingredients that provide the most benefit for addressing visible signs of aging among many other concerns need to be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging.
References for this information:
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, issue 14, pages 97-106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, issue 3, pages 252-259.
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, issue 9, pages 4676-4683
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, issue 6, pages 640-660
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82-88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1-10
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.
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