Skin Resurfacing Duo

by NeoStrata Canada  Radiance
$72.50 - 150 ml
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Skin Care > AHA Exfoliants > AHA
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This two-step product involves using a scrub, followed by an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) product that contains approximately 8% of the AHA lactic acid. Combining a scrub and an AHA product can be overkill; by that we mean highly irritating for all skin types. Scrubbing skin and then applying an effective agent most likely will burn, and that’s not good for your skin.

The Crystals (50 ml) is a scrub with baking soda, antioxidant vitamins, and fragrant orange oil, which may reinforce the vitamin C (think citrus) concept, but is actually a potent irritant. Meanwhile, you can easily substitute the baking soda in your kitchen cabinet for the baking soda included here, but either way it’s too alkaline, and runs the risk of causing dryness or making dryness worse.

After you massage the Crystals over your face for a minute, you leave the scrub mixture on (truly a bad idea) and apply the Activator (100 ml), which is the AHA portion of this duo. The Activator has a pH of 2.3, which definitely allows the lactic acid to function as an exfoliant, but such a low pH is also highly irritating. For example, lemon juice has the same pH, and we’ve all experienced how much it hurts when you get lemon juice in a cut!

Most likely the alkaline pH of the Crystals neutralizes the acidic pH of the Activator when they’re combined, but this is a convoluted way to exfoliate, and the risk of undue irritation is too great to ignore. For better, easier results, consider any of the AHA products recommended on our Best AHA Exfoliants.

Ideal for a quick fix for dull skin concentrating on more resistant dry skin areas. This duo will give you quick results with no downtime.

Crystals: PEG-6, Sodium Bicarbonate Olath-20, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Silica, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Orange Essence oil, Beta Carotene, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben

Activator: Water, Lactic Acid, Linoleamidopropyl Pg Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyquarternium-10, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

NeoStrata Canada is not associated in any way with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, and the product selections are completely different. We asked NeoStrata Canada's owner, Canderma Pharma, Inc., why many of the products are completely different, but no one would tell us, so it remains a mystery.

What NeoStrata Canada and the U.S.-sold NeoStrata products do have in common is an abundance of well-formulated AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliants at effective concentrations and at the correct pH levels. The prices are all over the place, but for the most part you can be assured that any AHA product you purchase from NeoStrata Canada will exfoliate your skin and provide additional benefits such as improved skin texture and tone.

Exfoliants are both lines' key selling point, but they're not perfect. For example, the AHA products with sunscreen do not provide enough critical UVA protection (meaning they lack the UVA-protecting active ingredients of avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Tinsorb, ecamsule, or Mexoryl SX). That lack is a disappointment for those who were hoping that an AHA plus sunscreen would be a convenience.

NeoStrata Canada has several other intriguing products that include impressive ingredients such as peptides, retinol, vitamin C, and the company's patented AHA alternative, the polyhydroxy acid known as gluconolactone. Despite including some great ingredients, the formulas suffer from the inclusion of irritants (alcohol is a big one) and/or packaging that won't keep the beneficial ingredients stable during use.

The serums with vitamin C are worth a look, if you're curious about vitamin C. However, you'd do better looking for vitamin C in a product that also treats your skin to a variety of beneficial ingredients because one antioxidant is never enough; your skin requires much more (just like your diet) to be healthy so it can look and act younger.

Because NeoStrata Canada's products are not associated with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, our team called NeoStrata Canada's customer service to get additional consumer information about their products. Unfortunately, NeoStrata Canada's customer service phone number was perpetually set to voicemail, and our numerous messages (all left as regular customers, not as investigators) were never returned. After two weeks, the one email reply we did get in response to a question concerning active ingredients said simply that they couldn't give us any information. Their solution was to tell us that we would have to locate the product on store shelves to answer our own question. Either our question was too probing or NeoStrata Canada's strength is not customer service.

For more information about NeoStrata Canada, call (800) 636-3664 or visit

Note: All prices are in Canadian currency.

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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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