As a teen, I grew up with an unhealthy addiction to St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Blessed with acne, I would rub that gritty lotion all over my face with reckless abandon, scrubbing especially hard on any blemished areas, much like the way your mother scrubs baked-on pasta off her favourite baking dish. In a word, it was nasty and it gives me shivers now to think of the damage I was causing to my already-irritated complexion.
But as they say, we learn from our mistakes, and I have all but sworn off physical scrubs since. Gentle, chemical exfoliants became my go-to, so naturally, I went out and bought a bottle of the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($59), based on its cult-status and praise among beauty folk. For those who haven't tried it, it's a fine powder exfoliant that activates to form a paste upon combination with water.
After the first few uses, I was underwhelmed. Sure, my skin was smooth and flake-free, but I didn't notice it to be much brighter or less congested. I tried scrubbing harder, which proved difficult seeing as the texture isn't at all gritty or abrasive. I persevered for a few weeks, and the results were much the same. I figured it was just too gentle for my thicker, oily skin, and swapped it out for other options. It was only when I met with Dermalogica skin expert Emma Hobson, who explained to me that I'd been doing going about it all wrong. And boy, was she right.
Keep scrolling for the full explanation.
In short, the Microfoliant is not so much a physical scrub, but rather designed to slough off dead skin cells thanks to the addition of papain (the enzyme found in papaya), and salicylic acid (or beta hydroxy acid). Both of these ingredients chemically loosen and dissolve the top layer of skin to reveal the shiny, new stuff underneath. Sounds great, so what's the issue?
The problem lies in the fact that most people who use it rub it over their skin for about 10 to 15 seconds max (like me), because who really has time for much else? Naturally, the catch to the product is that for the above ingredients to properly do that job, they need to be on the skin for at least a full minute to work. The directions actually state that you should massage into your face for a full minute, but does anyone actually do it? I'm guessing no.
So, when I learned this golden nugget of information, I went home and pulled my Microfoliant from the back of the cupboard and gave it another crack, this time massaging in and leaving it on my face for the duration of my shower (without rinsing of course). Lo and behold, it's made the biggest difference in my skin. It's clearer, brighter, and smoother—basically everything you want when purchasing the product.
So take my (and Emma Hobson's) advice, and give it ample time to do its job. This goes for other powder exfoliants that work in a similar way—trust me when I say it's worth every extra second.