03.16.2015
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Triple-Action Micropolish and Peel
Rating
2 fl. oz. for $58
Category:Skin Care > AHA Exfoliants > AHA
Last Updated:03.16.2015
Jar Packaging:No
pH:3.80
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This is an interesting product because it's part scrub, part AHA peel. Dispensed from its tube as a thick, paste-like gel, you're directed to apply a thin layer to clean, moist skin and then massage in circular motion to release the scrub ingredients (though you will feel the abrasive ingredients as soon as you put this on, so we're not sure how much "releasing" actually occurs). Then you leave the product on for several minutes, after which you rinse with warm water or a washcloth.

The AHA part comes into play because this product contains roughly 9% glycolic acid formulated at a pH of 3.8 to ensure it functions as an exfoliant. This scrub/AHA exfoliant rinses easily, leaving skin very smooth, but the concern is the brief contact the AHA has with skin. Yes, you will get some exfoliation in the few minutes it's on and of course the scrub action exfoliates too, but in a different way. It's not really the best of both worlds, though, because ideally an AHA exfoliant should be left on for several minutes (at least) to hours in order to provide maximum benefit.

Despite the shortcomings of skin's brief exposure to the glycolic acid in this product, we admire the concept for those who still like scrubs but also want to get the benefits of an AHA. Because this only begins to feel slightly uncomfortable when left on for five minutes, you can leave it on longer to give the AHA more time to work. How much longer to leave it on is an unknown, though, which is why you're still better off using a separate scrub and leave-on AHA exfoliant.

What about Algenist's patented ingredient alguronic acid? There's no published research proving it has any benefit for skin, let along being able to exfoliate. As its derived from algae polysaccharides, it most likely has water-binding and potentially soothing action, but that's theory, not fact. The same is true for the fruit enzymes, as these have little ability to exfoliate skin due to their fragile nature that most likely doesn't survive the processing a cosmetic product like this goes through when being mixed and packaged.

Triple-Action Micropolish and Peel is suitable for all skin types except sensitive. It contains a tiny amount of fragrance, as evidenced by its barely detectable scent.

Pros:
  • A novel way to combine the benefits of a scrub and an AHA exfoliant.
  • The scrub portion refines without feeling too gritty.
  • Rinses easily, leaving skin very smooth.
  • If left on longer than just a few minutes, the glycolic acid will provide enhanced exfoliation.
Cons:
  • Expensive given you can find separate scrubs and AHA exfoliants for about half the cost.
  • Alguronic acid and fruit enzymes are unlikely to be reliable, stable exfoliants.
Claims

Leveraging the science of biotechnology, this advanced microdermabrasion peel resurfaces the skin using a 10% acid duo (patented Alguronic Acid + Glycolic Acid) in a potent combination with a 10% fruit enzyme complex and micro polishing crystals to immediately improve skin texture and tone.

Ingredients

Water, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Algae Extract, Glucosamine HCL, Galactoarabinan, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Urea, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Oxide, Fragrance (Parfum), Limonene, Phenoxyethanol.

Brand Overview

Algenist At-a-Glance

Strengths: Good facial cleanser and toner; select serums and moisturizers formulated with an impressive mix of anti-aging ingredients; Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer really does make wrinkles less apparent.

Weaknesses: Expensive; the star ingredient (a modified form of algae) doesn't have reliable research to support its anti-aging efficacy; jar packaging; some of the moisturizers contain eucalyptus oil, which can be a potent irritant.

Algenist is a small, rather expensive range of skin-care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the "accidental" discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.

Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available, so you only have a science-fiction style story, not facts) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn't really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these "studies" are not available. Instead, we're asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn't a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid—so you're taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products!

Before you get seduced by Algenist's claims and their explanation about how algae reproduces, let us tell you—it has no relation to how human skin works. Algae is about as related to human skin as a 747 jetliner is to roller skates.

Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that's all you consumed, you'd soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body's largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.

To Algenist's credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won't keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn't skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin's ability to look and act younger!

In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn't worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don't mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you'll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.

For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit www.algenist.com.

Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment that Paula Begoun, founder of Beautypedia and Paula's Choice Skincare made over 30 years ago-to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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10.19.2014
Takes years off my face

This is a lot more money than I would normally spend on a peel, but I achieved such great results with Algenist's Overnight Restorative Cream and saw such great reviews that I had to give this a try. I am very impressed. Given that I use it only once a week on my face, I don't consider it to be prohibitively expensive. I have sensitive skin and it works great for me. However, if I leave it on for more than 4 minutes my skin gets irritated, so I limit the time it's on my face to that.

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