Gentle Cream Exfoliant

by Dermalogica   Skin Health
$39 - 2.5 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > AHA Exfoliants > AHA
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Gentle Cream Exfoliant includes irritants such as sulfur and lavender oil, making it anything but gentle! If the spa or esthetician you frequent uses or endorses these products, run, don't walk, to the nearest exit and book your facial elsewhere! Note: this scrub's abrasive agent (and second ingredient) is diatomaceous earth, which is essentially fossilized algae shells. As such, they tend to have a rough, uneven surface that can scratch and tear skin, especially if used zealously.

Note that the AHA lactic acid and BHA salicylic acid are of little use in a scrub, because they're rinsed down the drain before they have a chance to work. Also, Dermalogica can label this product however they want, but the texture is akin to a scrub, not a leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant.

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Research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application causes skin-cell death (Source: Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229). Lavender leaves contain camphor, which is a known skin irritant. Because the fragrance constituents in lavender oil oxidize when exposed to air, lavender oil is a pro-oxidant, and this enhanced oxidation increases its irritancy on skin (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 143–150). Lavender oil is the most potent form, and even small amounts of it (0.25% or less) are problematic. It is a must to avoid in skin-care products, although it's fine as an aromatherapy agent for inhalation or relaxation (Sources: Psychiatry Research, February 2007, pages 89–96; and

Dramatically improve skin texture with this two-in-one masque/exfoliation treatment. Non-abrasive formula contains Lactic Acid and Hydroxy Acid to help detach dead skin cells, increasing cell renewal while improving texture for dramatically smooth skin. Formulated without artificial fragrances and colors. Apply a thin layer over cleansed skin, avoiding the lip and nostril area. Use care around the delicate eye area as well. Let activate for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse well. Use twice weekly.

Water (Aqua), Diatomaceous Earth, Butylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Papain, Bromelain, Steareth-21, Steareth-2, Cetearyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Lactic Acid, Sulfur, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Citrus Medica Limonium (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Polysorbate 80, Disodium EDTA, Benzyl PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Dermalogica's name implies a logical relationship to dermatology, which makes it sound as if you are getting serious skin care. The subtitle on their products is even more commanding: "A Skin Care System Researched and Developed by the International Dermal Institute." But what is the International Dermal Institute, you ask? Are there any dermatologists there? Apparently not: The International Dermal Institute is a Dermalogica-owned school for aestheticians who want an education beyond what is required for their cosmetology license, and the classes are taught by aestheticians.

Does the professional atmosphere of the school associated with Dermalogica mean better products? The proof is in the pudding, and this pudding is, for the most part, just Jell-O, not chocolate mousse. A company so concerned with skin-care education should be ashamed of itself for offering so many products that damage skin with known irritants and, more egregiously, offering so many sunscreens that lack sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients. Dermalogica's education-oriented, serious-minded, and clinical positioning doesn’t mesh with the majority of their products, and is on par with tobacco company executives teaching an aerobics class.

According to company history, the reason Dermalogica products came to be was that founder Jane Wurwand could not find a spa-oriented skin-care line that met her criteria. She was dismayed that so many skin-care lines aimed at the aesthetics market had products that contained alcohol, artificial colors, fragrance, mineral oil, and lanolin, ingredients that she believed had a well-documented history of problems. That's true for fragrance and alcohol (and artificial colors to a lesser extent), but mineral oil and lanolin have no documented history of causing skin problems. If anything, quite the opposite is true. Further, if Dermalogica's founders were so concerned about potentially or definitively harmful ingredients, why do their products contain so many of them? Where is the research proving that lavender oil, camphor, balm mint, arnica, ginger oil, and citrus oils are helpful for skin?

For more information about Dermalogica, call 1-800-345-2761 or visit

Member Comments

Summary of Member Comments

  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    3 / 4 Good
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
Page of 1
  1. Casandra C.
    Reviewed on Saturday, June 14, 2014
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    I love it
    • I also agree that scrub -like texture doesn't make this a scrub. I really love this product and have been using it for over a year. It make my face much smoother after I use it so something must be acting as an exfoliating agent. It has never given me problems since not everyone has sensitive skin. Also, unlike other exfoliating masks some of which tingle or burn slightly when applied I have never felt that with this one.

  2. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Friday, April 25, 2014
    • Value
      3 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    Great product
    • I agree that sulfur as an does not sound too great, I wish it were not there, but I have to say that I'm a happy user of this Dermalogica product. I have sensitive skin that can occasionally get red, flaky and itchy, and Paula's choice reviews and ingredient analyses have often helped me identify a potential culprit. However, this mask/exfoliant feels really good on my skin and has a truly refreshening effect. It is not used as a scrub, even if the texture is a bit clay-i; it's not abrasive.

  3. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Friday, February 28, 2014
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      3 / 4
    This is a mask not a scrub!
    • Obviously the Cosmetic Cop did not do their homework; this product is a mask not a scrub and therefore most of the criticism is unwarranted. If used as directed you will see results from the lactic and salicylic acid, bearing that you are not sensitive to these ingredients. My always feels renewed and very clean after using this product.

    Paula's Choice Research Team Response
    Replied on: Monday, March 03, 2014

    Thanks for your review! Despite how Dermalogica positions this product, it has a scrub-like texture due to the second ingredient of diatomaceous earth, which are ground-up fossilized algae or seashells. In other words, this isn't a gentle ingredient and its present in a formula that contains numerous irritating fragrant ingredients plus sulfur. The AHA and BHA ingredients cannot function as exfoliants due to this product's pH being outside the range needed for these ingredients to function in that manner.


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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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