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I love peeling gels. These awesome physical exfoliants use soft fibres instead of hard scrubbing grains for thorough but gentle exfoliation, much like using a washcloth but with less potential for germs. It’s a common misconception that the bunched up fibres are skin coming off and that the peeling gel is acting as a rapid chemical exfoliant, but the vast majority of what comes off is from the ingredients in the peeling gel itself (a small amount is skin though, since they’re grabbing some dead skin cells in the process!). I’ve found these particularly helpful after a bout of cold/flu or hayfever, when my nose is flaky – peeling gels do a great job of gently buffing off any flakes of dead skin so you don’t look dessicated.
Here are 3 peeling gels I’ve tried recently:
It’s Skin Citron Peeling Gel
I bought It’s Skin Citron Peeling Gel and Nature Republic Cranberry Real Nature Peeling Gel in my last RoseRoseShop order when I ran out of The Face Shop White Jewel Peeling Gel, which has been my favourite for a while. I’ve since completely abandoned the Nature Republic one mostly because the cranberry scent smells like medicine, while the It’s Skin gel smells like refreshing citrus. The It’s Skin gel also works a bit better in the shower than the Nature Republic one, which is a bit too watery to bunch up properly so it feels like you’re just rubbing your face with your fingertips.
It’s Skin Citron Peeling Gel contains 1200 mg yuzu extract. I’m not sure what it’s meant to do (brightening, I assume). I also couldn’t find the ingredients list translated online, and I haven’t had the energy to repeat the Korean ingredients translation exercise I tried back when I had lots of spare time (damn you, full-time work!). In lieu of that, here’s the ingredients list for It’s Skin Mangowhite Peeling Gel which comes in the same sort of packaging, so I assume the ingredients are similar (if anyone wants to see the Korean ingredients list for the Citron one, click here for a photo).
Water, Butylene Glycol, Cellulose, Alcohol, Garcinia Mangostana Peel Extract, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Panthenol, Methylparaben, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Fragrance, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Water, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Polyethylene, Lactose, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Flower/Leaf Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Althaea Officinalis Leaf/Root Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), Squalane, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydroxypropylcellulose, Red 33 (CI 17200).
Edit: An amazing reader Celena has translated the ingredients list! Here it is:
Water, Butylene glycol, cellulose, alcohol denat., yuza extract, green tea extract, pantenol, Madonna lily scales(?) stem extract, Sea Berry/Buckthorn tree extract, kudzu (I’m pretty sure) extract, peony root extract, lemon extract, Corydalis micrantha flower/leaf/stem extract, polyglutamic acid, fumaric acid (I think), acetyl tyrosine (I think), Propylene Glycol (another think), triethanolamine (think), carbomer, ethyl hexanediol (think), ethyl hexyl glycerin (still thinking), PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, PPG-26-buteth-26, glycerin, disodium EDTA, tartrazine (Yellow #4 in Korean), parfum.
It’s safe to say that cellulose is my favourite peeling gel fibre. It feels very slightly rough (though nowhere near as rough as hard scrubbing grains), doesn’t require much buffing to effectively exfoliate, and bunches up nicely if the product contains a high enough concentration of cellulose.
The Body Shop Drops of Youth Liquid Peel
It’s interesting to see more Western brands release peeling gels (often called gommages, just to mess with your Google-fu), and The Body Shop has launched two new ones in the Drops of Youth and Vitamin C lines. I tried the Drops of Youth Liquid Peel which is not a chemical peel, despite the name.
This product comes in a handy pump bottle. It’s carbomer-based, like many other Western peeling gels. It’s meant to be used on cleansed and dry skin. The instructions say to massage 2 pumps in sweeping motions on your skin until it clumps up, then rinse off with warm water.
The key to using this product successfully, I’ve found, is to make sure you use it on DRY SKIN ONLY. I’ve tried using it in the shower, and straight after coming out of the shower and patting my skin mostly-dry with a towel. Both times the product clumped, but also left a weird rubbery film on my face and fingers, which wouldn’t come off even with soap and water. However, when I tried it on my face about half an hour after showering, it worked perfectly without any issues at all – in fact, it’s the best carbomer-based peeling gel I’ve ever used. It also has no strong scent apart from a mild alcohol smell, so if you’re sensitive to fragrance this could be worth a try.
Aqua, Alcohol Denat., Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Carbomer, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Palmitamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Quaternium-80, Parfum, Behentrimonium Chloride, Linalool, Citronellol, Cetrimonium Chloride, Isopropyl Alcohol, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Eryngium Maritimum Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Callus Culture Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum.
Skinfood Royal Honey Mask
Skinfood Royal Honey Mask is a bit misleading in its name, because it completely hides the fact it turns into a peeling gel. It’s a mask that you leave on your face for 10 minutes, then when you massage it before you wash if off, it clumps up and exfoliates.
I’m a big fan of this mask. It’s very hydrating, has a gorgeous honey smell, and the pump bottle packaging is always a welcome bonus. I often use this in the shower while I wash and condition my hair, then massage and rinse it off afterwards. If I’m not careful, the steam dilutes the mask and I end up with no peely clumps, but if I keep my face well away from the water there’s usually some satisfying exfoliation at the end.
Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Isopropyl Myristate, Honey, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Royal Jelly Extract, Cellulose, Sorbitan Stearate, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycosyl Trehalose, Cetearyl Alcohol, Oleic Acid, Isohexadecane, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Polysorbate 80, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Triethanolamine, Allantoin, Salicylic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, CI 15985, CI 19140, Parfum.
Have you tried any peeling gels? What’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments!
For more tips on exfoliation and glowing skin, make sure you check out my free exfoliation guide!
The Body Shop Drops of Youth Liquid Peel was provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. This post also contains affiliate links – if you decide to click through and support Lab Muffin financially (at no extra cost to you), thank you! For more information, see Disclosure Policy.