exfoliate

Review: Kate Somerville Exfolikate

In accordance with the cult status of this product, you will not be able to read this review unless you know the secret handshake, can display the secret tattoo, can say the secret password three times backwards, or have otherwise proven yourselves worthy (which is to say, you have a credit or debit card).

Oh! Looks like we’re all here then.

I feel like I should speak the name of this product in hushed, reverent tones. From the amount of buzz it generates, you would think it was made up of shreds of the Shroud of Turin, the blood of Alexander the Great, and essences extracted from materials that the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and the Archbishop of Canterbury had all personally blessed and prayed over. It should glow. Choirs of angels should appear and sing every time the container is opened.

Sadly, none of that happens. But it is a pretty darn good product.

Exfolikate is, as you might have guessed, an exfoliant. It has some small gritty granules in it, but the primary exfoliating ingredient is fruit enzymes. I used to be terribly sensitive to fruit enzymes — there was a pumpkin papaya mask that came out several years ago that made my face burn for hours after I used it — so I was really leery of this. But, you know, blood of Alexander the Great and everything. So it came up on HauteLook and I decided to buy it (for a price that was considerably lower than the retail price I’ll be quoting at the end of the post).

To my distinct relief, Exfolikate treats my skin much more nicely than that other product. It does have fruit enzymes (papaya fruit extract and bromelain, which comes from pineapples and which is what makes your tongue hurt if you eat too much of it, as my friend Sarah found out to her great discomfort) as well as lactic acid, a gentle but effective exfoliant. Other ingredients include aloe, salicylic acid, and essential oils of bergamot, lavender, rosewood, orange, and cassia.

The product is dark green in color and has a noticeable herbal/grassy/wet-leaves scent. You are supposed to apply it in an even layer to clean, wet skin and DO NOT RUB. The directions say to leave it on only for 20 to 30 seconds and then rinse, but the label warns that redness may occur and persist for up to 20 minutes later due to increased circulation. The small polyethylene granules are not, I suspect, meant to function as a real mechanical exfoliant, but rather to help you know when you’ve completely rinsed the product off your face, as otherwise it might be hard to tell and you definitely don’t want to leave that stuff on there.

I’m pleased that I haven’t suffered any irritation from this. It is a little difficult to get the product on in an even layer, as it tends to glob up (especially on wet fingers), but overall it’s worked fine.

The big question is whether or not it’s worth the price tag, which is hefty. You need very little, so even the smaller-sized container will last for months. I will probably still not be finished with this tube by the time I’m ready for Social Security, if Social Security even exists then. I like that it’s effective and gentle. I’m not wild about the scent. I love that you only need to leave it on for 30 seconds. This makes it really easy to include in your everyday skincare regimen (not that you would use this every day, but I mean you don’t have to set aside a whole evening for a special facial treatment).

So if you want to splurge on something as a well-deserved reward, or if you come across it at a greatly reduced price, it’s worth picking up. Otherwise I can’t really justify the price tag.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kate Somerville Exfolikate: $85 for 2 oz., $175 for 5 oz.

Provenance: Purchased. (ON SALE. ON A BIG SALE.)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): After a lot of flip-flopping, I have to go with Fair. It’s egregiously expensive, but it will last a long time.

Purchase again?
God forbid I ever need to.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Cosmedix Defy Age Management Exfoliator

I have become so in love with the Cosmedix line of skincare over the last few weeks that I am considering running away and eloping with it. I have several products from the line but will review them one at a time so as not to overwhelm you with a 20,000-word post.

The hook behind the Cosmedix skincare line is that it is “chirally correct.” For the non-scientists among us (and I include myself in this category, of course), this means the following: Many biologically important molecules exist in two mirror-image isomers, each containing the same atoms but arranged in a perfectly reversed, non-superimposable order. The most common example of chirality is human left and right hands — identical in composition, but reversed in structure, and no matter how you try to twist and turn them you cannot successfully superimpose one on top of the other. This concept was first explained to me by my GP when he was discussing why he wanted to switch me from one medication to a very similar one: he said that the left isomer of the active ingredient caused fewer side effects than the right isomer, so the meds made with the left isomer were a better choice. In skincare, you might have seen ingredients like L-ascorbic acid or D-alpha tocopherol; I won’t go into the naming of things but the letters L and D indicate that they are the left and right isomers, respectively, of whatever substance we’re talking about. As with the medication example above, one isomer might be helpful but the other might produce negative side effects, be ineffective, or damage the body. (Wearing a left glove on your left hand is useful. Wearing a left glove on your right hand impedes your ability to use your hand correctly.) The premise of “chirally correct” products is that they only include the helpful isomer of important or active ingredients.

I might have scoffed at this as yet another example of skincare companies touting a tenuous connection to vague scientific principles except that my GP was right — the second med, based on the other isomer, did work better than the first and had fewer side effects. So I was disposed to give it a shot.

Like Adam, who did not know he was naked until he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, I did not know my skin was not as nice-looking as it could be until I tried this line of products. Seriously, my skin is good. In polite company, it’s the thing I get complimented on. But now! Oh, the shame, the shame.

Defy is an exfoliating cream that I use at night in alternation with other Cosmedix products (which will be reviewed shortly). It is a rich, thick cream that is non-irritating but effective and that has a touch of a mild lemony scent. As with most of the other products in the line, it is so rich that you really need only a pea-size amount to cover the whole face. No, really.

Its claim to fame is that it has three chirally correct AHA exfoliating acids: L-lactic, L-malic, and L-tartaric, as well as some other chirally correct ingredients. It also has a lot of moisturizing ingredients: glyceryl stearate, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, olive oil, aloe leaf extract, sweet almond oil, lecithin (an emulsifier), grapefruit peel oil, ylang-ylang flower oil, and peach kernel oil.

The additional chirally-corrected ingredients are D-alpha-tocopherol (chirally correct Vitamin E isomer), and L-alpha-bisabolol (a chirally-correct anti-inflammatory ingredient derived from chamomile). I am not a skincare chemist, but there is nothing in this moisturizer that I can find that is not full of awesome. I’m using it in conjunction with other Cosmedix products, so it’s hard to tell exactly which product is responsible for what, but I’m really pleased with what’s happening with my skin — my pores are smaller, skin tone is more even, skin is firmer and more resilient and has more color.

The Cosmedix line used to be available only in spas, but has recently become available online. Let me warn you now that the line is not cheap. (However, it is also not insanely, outrageously, astronomically priced like La Prairie, La Mer, or SKII.) Defy is listed at $66 for 1 oz., but since you really do need such a tiny amount and probably will not use it every night, it should last quite awhile. (Skin-Etc. has it for $52.80, and I don’t think they are supposed to be doing that since the prices are fixed everywhere else.) If you buy through Dermstore, you can take advantage of Bing cashback savings through 7/31/10.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cosmedix Defy Age Management Exfoliator: $66

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. It’s awesome, but I can’t imagine ever waving the “excellent” flag for a $66/oz. cream. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too harsh.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: M2 Skin Refinishing Lotion 20%

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the big guns.

M2 Skin Refinishing Lotion is not a polite product. It does not open the door for you. It does not hold your chair out at the table so that you can sit demurely. It does not offer you a drink, or a light for your cigarette.

What it does do is exfoliate like hell, so at least that’s something.

M2 Skin Refinishing Lotion is a blend of acids, primarily mandelic and malic. If you want a serious chemical exfoliant that’s still safe for use two or three times a week, then the M2 line might be something you want to check out. In spite of the things I don’t like about this product (see below), I can’t deny it’s done wonders for my hyperpigmentation spots. (For those who are new to the blog, or who for some reason don’t obsessively keep track of every detail of my life [what is wrong with you people?], I suddenly developed a whole cluster of brown spots at the end of last summer, due no doubt to a summer spent driving in the car and not realizing that I wasn’t wearing adequate sunscreen.)

This is quite clearly a product that means business. It is not a vanity product. It will not make you more beautiful while you are wearing it. (Well, except that it is working on getting rid of your dead skin cells, so … well, you know what I mean.) Putting this product on is like smearing honey on your face, except that it’s considerably less delicious and OW! it burns if you have a cut or other small opening in the skin. Actually, the only part of it that’s like honey at all is how sticky it makes your face. Really, it’s amazing. I feel like a piece of human flypaper when I’m wearing this. It also makes me shiny. Needless to say, I use it as a night treatment only! M2’s argument is that the stickiness holds the product in place so it can work overnight on your skin rather than rubbing off onto your pillow.

It is the consistency of corn syrup, although interestingly enough it doesn’t feel sticky when you pump it out onto your finger. But when you spread it into a thin layer on your skin, it becomes stickier than Elmer’s Glue, and more shiny to boot. I actually feel it sticking to my pillowcase at night. I know — gross, right? So you will understand when I say I only use this because dang! it does a good job of evening my skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation. Overly frequent use is likely to result in dry skin, so start with a once or twice a week regimen at first. M2 also makes a moisturizer which I sometimes use on nights I’m not using the Skin Refinishing Lotion, but I’m not wild about it and besides it’s a really freaky shade of green. If you don’t like M2’s moisturizer, and also don’t like sticking to your pillowcase, you are allowed to apply a night cream of your choice once the Skin Refinisher has set (they say it’s about 15 minutes, but I usually find about 20-30 minutes to be a better window).

One thing I have to say about M2 is that they have taken a very forward approach to packaging and delivery systems; their delivery systems for the Skin Refinishing Lotion and the moisturizer are unique, which I like. And I like the results. If your skin is particularly sensitive or delicate, they also make a 12% Skin Refinisher, which you might want to start with. The 20% is OK for me, but it certainly lets me know if I have a small cut or other damage to the skin. Owie, owie, owie. And, of course, you must must MUST use a sunscreen when you’re using this product.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

M2 Skin Refinishing Lotion 20%:  $48.50 via SkinCareRX.com

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good, for right now. Since you can’t see into the container, it’s hard to know how long it will last.

Purchase again? Probably, though I’ll certainly wait for a sale!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals

I am beginning to think that BORBA is the single best reason to shop at TJMaxx and Marshall’s.

This might surprise you, if you remember that the last time I reviewed a BORBA product on this site I found it … er, less than adequate, to say the least. However, I also said I had another BORBA product that I thought was superb. I still haven’t gotten around to writing a review of that one, and in between times I’ve picked up two more products that are excellent, so I’m 3 for 4 on BORBA at the moment. I don’t yet know if I’d buy them at full price, but getting them at discount stores is really working out well for now!

The BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals kit is a home microdermabrasion-type product (which really just means it’s a fancy kind of exfoliating scrub). It’s a two-part process: you start by applying the HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals to clean, dry skin and massaging in gentle circles for about a minute. Although the crystals are suspended in some sort of goopy substance (in other words, it’s not like pouring a handful of grains of salt into your hand), they are still mighty abrasive. The feel is not unlike sandpaper; I can’t say that it’s pleasant. You can actually hear the crystals scraping away at your face. To make you feel a little better about it, BORBA tells you that you’re using “prismatic micro-diamonds” in this product, and it is true — there’s gold in them thar hills diamonds in that there jar, although diamond powder is the very last ingredient. And it’s probably not the diamonds that give this product its sparkle; mica is way up there in the ingredient list. Diamond powder is an exfoliant, though (unsurprising, as diamond is the hardest substance around), but the majority of the exfoliating work of this product is carried out by the other exfoliants it contains: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), rice hull powder, and silica.

After you’ve abraded yourself to within an inch of your life, you’re supposed to put a squirt or two of the Step 2 product, the “Plasma Activator/Pore Perfecting Thermal Serum” into your hand and rub that on top of the crystals on your face. This is also the part where you swear because you realize you should have uncapped Step 2 before you dipped your fingers in Step 1 and got them all goopy. (I’ve done this twice now, dammit.) When the serum touches the crystal goop on your face, heat is produced and the crystals mostly melt away. You rub this all around for a bit and then rinse. I haven’t worked out what the right proportion of serum to crystal goop is yet, and am usually left with some crystals that haven’t dissolved. Unless you’re super-patient or have a hand-held shower jet attached to your sink, it’s easier to rinse this off in the shower than at the sink, because the crystals are stubborn and don’t dissolve in water. In both cases a washcloth is a helpful accessory.

This product really does leave skin glowing and gorgeous. I’ve used a lot of exfoliating products and was basically over the idea of using anything other than a baking soda or sugar scrub — baking soda because it’s easily available and is a very fine scrub, and sugar scrubs because I happen to have some with aromas I really like that have a bit of moisturizing oil in them as well. Also, most of my exfoliating these days is chemical rather than mechanical, via AHAs and BHAs. Still, I’ll definitely be using this product.

Of course there’s always a fly in the goop ointment; last time it was overpackaging, this time it’s gimmicky advertising language. You know I’m suspicious about that, and the people who write the BORBA copy put it out in spades. From the website:

A revolutionary 2-step treatment using advanced, high definition (HD) plasma technology and prismatic micro-diamonds to dramatically resurface and retexturize your skin. By helping your skin more optimally reflect light your skin begins to look picture perfect. Innovative in its design, this luxurious product warms itself to deeply cleanse and minimize the appearance of pores. Enhances the skins youthful luminosity and flawlessness maximizing its beauty.

Plasma is an extraordinary substance used in advanced optical technology to help provide extraordinary definition, vibrancy and clarity to illuminated images. Plasma ‘high-def’ technology is the inspiration for BORBA’s new HD-Illuminating line of skin treatments. This new Diamond-Dermabrasion Treatment, designed with innovative silver plasma technology & pure micro-diamonds, helps improve the visible quality of skin so it appears smoother, brighter and more youthful – what we call “high definition skin.”

Gag me with a spoon, fellas — the whole second paragraph essentially says nothing, except for defining (sort of) what plasma is in terms of its use in TVs. If this were a student essay I were grading, it’d be covered with red slash marks. As it turns out, “plasma” is a word with many meanings, some of which are very relevant to cosmetics, but the ways in which different types of plasma are used in cosmetics and cosmetic procedures vary so much that just saying something has “plasma” or “plasma technology” really isn’t saying much. I’d actually very much like to know exactly what kind of plasma is being used here and how it works — or am I to take them at their word, which is that plasma high-def technology is merely the “inspiration” for the line? If the blue sky is an inspiration for me to write a poem, can I say that my poem was composed with blue-sky technology?

So my advice is always to ignore the advertising language and look at the efficacy of the product to see if it’s worth using or continuing to use. Here, I hate the language and the hype, but I have to admit, the product is very impressive, as are the other two I have waiting in the wings to review. I will definitely keep using it, although I think I’ll have to cover up the labels so I don’t hurt myself by excessive eye-rolling over the flowery language. Look out for it at your local TJMaxx or Marshall’s; if it’s inexpensive and you’re looking for an effective exfoliant, this might be a good pick.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals: $59.00 (from BORBA; check your local discount store for much better deals)

Provenance: Purchased, via TJMaxx

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Full price: poor, probably. Discount price: excellent.

Purchase again? Yes, but not for full price.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

Review: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Stress Control 3-in-1 Acne Hydrating Treatment

neutrogena 3-1 oil free acne stress controlLongest. Product. Name. Ever.

Also, really not digging the orange-on-teal color scheme. Yeesh. The product may attempt to reduce your stress, but the packaging screams “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!”

All ribbing aside, Neutrogena [yadda yadda] Hydrating Treatment is an inexpensive and effective BHA product that can help keep pores unclogged. AHAs work on the surface of the skin to speed cell turnover there. But because they are not lipid-soluble, a clogged pore presents an obstacle to exfoliation of the walls of the pore. BHAs, however, are lipid-soluble, and they work by penetrating into the pore through the natural oil it contains and speeding the turnover of cells in the pore wall. If the pore is clogged with material, then getting rid of some of the dead skin cells in the walls of the pore can help loosen the clog and allow the dirt and oil to move to the surface of the pore for removal. (BHAs also do some exfoliation on the surface of skin.)

An effective BHA product requires both a reasonable level of BHA (between 1 and 2%, depending on what your skin can handle) and an effective pH, which is harder to come by, because pH is not usually listed on the package. According to Paula Begoun, BHAs are most effective at a pH between 3 and 4, losing efficiency as the pH of the product rises above 4. As she points out, you could always bring some pH testing strips along with you to your local drugstore if you want to test the pH of BHA products, but since most people don’t want to endure the curious stares of CVS or Target employees, they’d rather someone else do the testing. (I have to admit that this is the sort of geeky thing I would do. I should get my hands on some pH testing strips.) While I don’t always agree with Paula’s assessments on the qualitative aspects of products, there’s no question that her research is dead-on, so I trust her math when she says that the pH of this Neutrogena … Treatment is within optimal levels.

BHA products don’t work overnight. Well, they do, of course — it’s not like they gather round the water cooler between 9 pm and 7 am and chat about what happened on last night’s episode of The Office rather than going to work on your pores. But it takes several days for them to really start to produce results. Therefore, while BHAs are of some use during a breakout or when you have a particularly annoying blackhead, their real value is as preventive agents.

The Neutrogena … Treatment is a very thin, light, almost translucent lotion with a slight but noticeable cucumber scent that goes on easily and dries relatively quickly. It would be a good idea to wait a few minutes until the product is fully absorbed before putting either a moisturizer or makeup on where you’ve applied the … Treatment. BHA products should be applied to clean skin before you put on any other products. If the BHA product is emollient enough, you may not need to put a moisturizer on over the areas in which you’ve applied BHA. If your skin gets too dried out, flaky, or irritated, either reduce the frequency with which you use the product and/or switch to a product with a lower concentration of BHA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Neutrogena Oil Free 3-in-1 Acne Stress Control Acne Hydrating Treatment: ~$8 on drugstore.com

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (drugstore: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good

Purchase again? Yes

Review: Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream

ole henriksen pure perfection<– That’s supposed to be orange. I don’t know why it looks so red. Is it me? (Huh, and on the Ole Henriksen site it looks brown. Maybe my eyes are broken.)

Anyway, Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream may not exactly be perfection — that is, after all, an awfully high bar to set — but it’s definitely pretty darned good. It has a ton of good-for-you ingredients in it: antioxidants (vitamin C and beta carotene), AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids), primrose oil, and other good stuff. It’s also paraben-, phthalate-, sulfate-, and fragrance-free, and the whole Ole Henriksen line is all about the “natural,” however you want to define that.

This cream is fairly emollient, so I don’t know how it would be for those with oilier skin (who in general will probably do better with lotions rather than creams anyway). It’s the weight, texture, and consistency of vanilla frosting — the kind that you get in the can, the kind that makes perfect little curly points on top of a frosted cake, the kind that you eat with a spoon straight out of the container at two in the morning. It spreads easily (the cream, I mean; I can’t stop thinking about the frosting) and you don’t need much to cover the whole face. Because it has silicone in it (OK, now I’m off the frosting), it leaves a smooth, silky finish. It’s a bit too heavy for me to use in the summer, but now that we’re getting into chilly weather, it’s about time for this to make it back into my rotation, probably on an every-other-night basis. It lends a lovely glow to the skin and the AHAs definitely make my skin smoother. I do find that my pores get a bit congested if I use this every night, which is why I alternate it with other things. I also don’t use it on the night before or the night after another AHA treatment (like the MD Skincare daily peel). Because of this, and because you don’t really need very much, my jar has lasted quite awhile, and doesn’t seem to have diminished in effectiveness at all. I’ve had it about a year now, I think, and I’m just starting to get to the end of it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Cream: $48

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good

Purchase again? Yes

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel

md skincare alpha beta peel pack 2After intensive deliberation, I’ve concluded that this is my second favorite skincare product to date.

(Of course, I haven’t tried them all yet.)

Exfoliation of old and dead skin cells is a necessary part of maintaining both beautiful skin and healthy skin. Topical products, and the antioxidants or other skin-helping ingredients they may contain, are absorbed better when they don’t have to push their way through dead cells that are just hanging around cluttering up the place. Exfoliation is also thought to have a role in encouraging the body to produce collagen, which is one of the magical substances that keeps skin firm, plump, and healthy. Exfoliation can happen either mechanically (via scrubs or a washcloth; this is the subject of a future post) or chemically, through the application of alpha-, beta-, or poly-hydroxy acids to the skin.

The MD Skincare Alpha Beta “Daily” Face Peel is a two-step process that takes less than five minutes from start to finish. I put “daily” in quotes because really I just cannot see using this every day. There must be some people out there who can, but not I.

The peel is available in two kinds of packaging. What’s shown above is a one-serving packet (excuse me: “packette,” as per the MD Skincare site) from the travel pack; the regular, sit-at-home-on-your-counter pack is composed of two jars, one each of Step One and Step Two. Inside the jars are round pads, infused with the appropriate product. If you are looking to buy in quantity, you get more product for your buck with the regular, non-travel version, but since I tend to go through these slowly, I buy the travel pack because they’re each individually sealed in packaging and they don’t dry out. No sense buying a ton of expensive product and then having to throw half of it away. Also, um, they’re convenient for travel.

These are super-easy to use. After cleansing and patting dry your face, open Envelope (or Jar) #1. Inside there is basically a Wet-Nap soaked in an alpha/beta acid solution. (alpha: glycolic, malic, & lactic acid; beta: salicylic acid). Gently swipe the wet-nap over your face, avoiding the eye and lip areas. (I’ve accidentally swiped some near — not in, but near — my eye and it’s been just fine.) You are supposed to keep swiping until the pad feels dry. This takes quite a long time, however, as it seems to get down to a certain level of “moist” and then sit there. So when I feel I’ve swiped at my face enough, I use the pads on the backs of my upper arms and my elbows, where I get dry skin and a few annoying clogged pores (not keratosis pilaris, but just an occasional whitehead). The skin on my elbows and upper arms has improved incredibly as a result of this.

Wait two minutes. This means you can listen to Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” twice, or sing “Happy Birthday” about 12 times.

After the two minutes are up, use the pad in Envelope #2. This pad neutralizes the acid; although this is not as strong as a peel you might have at a doctor’s office, the neutralizer is still a nice touch. Swipe this everywhere you swiped the first one; you’re supposed to keep applying this one until the pad is dry, too, but I’ve never gotten all the way to “dry.” In addition to the neutralizer solution, this pad contains the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, so you’re applying antioxidants while also neutralizing the peel. Nifty, huh?

Do not rinse your face or use products containing alcohol after application, and you absolutely must be sure to wear a sunscreen, since these treatments make skin even more photosensitive than usual. The neutralizer may leave your face a little tacky (as in “sticky,” not “in bad taste”), but moisturizer and foundation go over it just fine. It really does make my skin glow, and the effect is noticeable for a few days after application. If I have to do any extractions later in the week, it does seem a bit easier (although that might just be me imagining that the BHA has had a good effect so quickly).

I use this about once a week, but am considering going to twice a week as we move into winter. It’s quick, neat, simple, and effective. If you ever get the chance to select this as a free sample when placing an order at Sephora or wherever, definitely take it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel: $80 for travel pack at Sephora; if you watch you can sometimes get them for considerably less at SkinStore or at ULTA with the right coupon

Provenance: Purchased (based on the awesomeness of a free sample with other purchase)

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good. If you can use coupon codes and get, say, 20% off, this ratio goes from “good” to “excellent.”

Purchase again? Abso-tively.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)