Tested on animals:Yes
The microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel is a 2-step kit that consists of a leave-on exfoliant (the "peel") and a lightweight moisturizer. Although this duo has its strong points for all skin types, it's pricey for what you get, and not as gentle as philosophy claims.
The "step I: alpha/beta hydroxy leave-on peel solution" is a fluid gel that contains a mix of AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid), as well as a BHA (salicylic acid). The exact amounts aren't included on the packaging or on philosophy's website. Calls to the company only revealed that the amount of AHA and BHA ingredients used is "proprietary."
Based on the ingredient list for the step I, we're speculating that it contains at least a 5% mix of glycolic and lactic acids, and less than a 1% concentration of salicylic acid. Combined, these will exfoliate skin, but the 4.1 pH of the peel is just outside the optimum range for exfoliation.
The cotton pads philosophy includes for applying step I are soft, sturdy, and a step above what you typically find at the drugstore. That aside, there isn't much to the peel other than its exfoliating ingredients and slip agents. It contains a likely insignificant amount of denatured alcohol, and the same is true for the fragrance ingredient vanillyl butyl ether.
2-3 minutes after applying step I, it's time to apply step II. Housed in a jar, "step II: youth-extending night gel" has an initially pudding-like texture that thins out when applied to skin. It feels soothing, and contains some plant-based anti-irritants as advertised, but the amount of fragrance (which lingers on skin) is cause for concern. This prompts the question: What's fragrance doing in a product that's said to be so gentle?
The night gel is claimed to work "by enhancing the ability of new skin cells to resist visible signs of aging." While it does contain a tiny amount of the cell-communicating adenosine and a couple of peptides, these ingredients aren't proven to make skin cells more resistant to signs of aging—especially not when packaged in a jar (as step II is).
While the lightweight textures and easy application of the microdelivery overnight anti-aging peel kit are commendable, excess fragrance and ingredients like denatured alcohol keep this 2-step system from being as gentle as it's made out to be. You'll find gentler, effective, and less expensive options on our list of Best Exfoliants.
- Step I contains a potentially effective mix of alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
- Easy to apply with the supplied, deluxe cotton pads.
- Steps I and II are fragranced.
- Expensive considering the number of great AHA exfoliants that cost less.
- Step II packaged in a jar, hindering some of its plant extracts.
- Contains too many potentially problematic ingredients to be considered a gentle peel.
Jar Packaging & Anti-Aging Formulas: The fact that step two of this anti-aging kit (youth-extending night gel) is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars can also be unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
When shopping for an anti-aging moisturizer, the ingredients that provide the most benefit in treating wrinkles or other signs of aging are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what you expose them to when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)