Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask Review

I bought the Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask a while ago and have used a few times now. This is a dusty rose colored powder that comes in a heavy clear glass jar.

herbivore pink clay

This mask claims to be for all skin types and is used to exfoliate the skin and to make it softer, brighter and glowing after use.

Ingredients: French Pink Clay, White Kaolin Clay, Organic Rosehip Powder, Organic Rose Powder, Organic Chamomile Powder

French pink clay is a mix of red and white clays. It is a mild clay for all skin types used for exfoliating, cleansing and softening. White kaolin clay is used as a mild exfoliant that softens skin. Rosehip powder can help repair damaged skin tissues as it contains omega 3, 6 and 9. Rose powder has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties to soothe skin inflammation. Chamomile powder is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

I have oily skin prone to breakouts and blackheads. I switch between two other clay masks, the Michael Todd Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask and the Clarity Matcha Mask from Your Best Face.

I put about 3/4 tbsp of the Pink Clay Mask powder into a small bowl with about 1 tsp to 1.5 tsp water and mix with a spatula. The instructions say to add a few drops of water, but I definitely need more than a few drops. I find that the clay powder doesn’t mix into the water right away but sits on top and I need to let the mask sit for a few minutes to get it to combine. I use this in the evening. It has a very mild earthy floral smell. I find it goes on rather clumpy and thick in places even though it spreads relatively nicely. It dries fast and I let it sit for 7 to 10 minutes.I soften it with warm water and rinse. It rinses pretty well with a facecloth. There is no tingling or stinging sensation to my face as with other clay masks. My skin only got a bit itchy and tickly in spots as the mask dried.

I was quite impressed by the results even after the first use. My nose is always a bit rough due to blackheads, buildup and oils and after I rinsed the mask off, my skin was definitely smoother and exfoliated. My skin was a bit brighter and indeed softer, and I noted the glow the next morning. This mask lives up to the claims it makes; however, I find it very drying, and I have oily skin. The nice thing about powered masks is that they can be customized a bit. I add a facial oil by Your Best Face Skincare. You could also add manuka honey and/or rose water. I think it’s important to add that I don’t find the benefits of the mask cumulative, as with an antioxidant or vitamin C mask, for example, but my skin does need exfoliating every few days, and this mask does a great job and is very gentle.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Review

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel extra strength formula is a two-step daily face peel. It blends alpha and beta hydroxy acids and claims to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin texture and enlarged pores while helping skin look more radiant. Thirty step one and two pads are wrapped in individual packets. This is for normal, breakout prone, combination, oily and less sensitive skin types.

Step One packets:

Ingredients: Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Methyl Lactate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Copper PCA, Zinc PCA, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum), Sodium Benzoate.

The second ingredient is denatured alcohol. There is conflict in the literature, but this type of alcohol in skincare can be drying, cytotoxic, cause free radical damage even at low levels and may lead to apoptosis (cell death), though is dose- and time-dependent. This contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid and citric acid. These are alpha hydroxy acids (water soluble) that help remove dead skin cells, treat acne and photo damage and smooth and firm skin. AHAs can be irritating to the skin. This peel also has salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (oil soluble) that penetrates deeper layers of the skin to exfoliate dead skin cells and oil buildup. Salicylic acid is an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so is helpful in treating acne, blackheads and blemishes. This contains green tea and chamomile extracts and achillea millefolium extract (yarrow leaf) is used to speed wound healing and calm inflamed skin. Soy isoflavones can boost collagen and elastin. Copper PCA modulates the amount of oil on the skin and is involved in the synthesis of elastin. Zinc PCA reduces sebum on the skin and controls acne and is also considered moisturizing. This contains fragrance.

Step Two packets:

Ingredients: Water (aqua), Sodium Bicarbonate, Resveratrol, Retinol, Ascorbic Acid, Ubiquinone, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Soy Isoflavones, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Copper PCA, Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA, Octoxynol-9, Simethicone, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.

The second ingredient is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to neutralize the acids in step one. Baking soda can be irritating to the skin due to the alkalinity. Resveratrol and ubiquinone are antioxidants. Ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate are forms of vitamin C. Retinol and retinyl palmitate are forms of vitamin A. Retinol is vitamin A in its whole form and is broken down into retinoic acid (Retin-A or tretinoin). It is gentler than retinoic acid as it is weaker. Retinoic acid is only available by prescription. Retinol promotes cell turnover in the skin, stimulates collagen and elastin, helping and preventing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and because of the cell turnover, new healthy skin is brought to the surface, healing old acne scars. Retinyl palmitate is the ester of retinol combined with palmitic acid, not considered to be the same as retinol, but is converted to retinol. Retinyl palmitate is considered to be more gentle than retinol. I will also mention that there is a concern that Retin-A can actually speed up the signs of aging because cells will reach the Hayflick limit faster. The Hayflick limit is the number of times a cell can divide before it dies (52 times). As in step one, step two contains soy isoflavones, green tea extract, yarrow leaf, zinc and copper. Sodium PCA can absorb moisture from the air. The preservative is phenoxyethanol. According to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, in high concentrations it can be everything from an allergen, skin irritant, damaging to the brain and nervous system and a carcinogen. The CIR Expert Review Panel confirmed that phenoxyethanol is “safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration.” In skincare this is generally used at 0.5-1% concentration.

I have oily skin. My skin has been somewhat less oily than usual as the weather has been colder. My skin is pretty resilient and isn’t easily irritated. I would most like to get rid of the blackheads on my nose and diminish the pores on my nose and cheeks. I used this product for 30 days in a row. After cleansing and drying the skin, I used the step one pad in small circular motions for about 2 minutes (until the pad was relatively dry), waited a couple minutes, then applied step two the same way. Instructions say not to apply anything else with alcohol after using this. The fragrance is okay, maybe somewhat citrusy, though not in a natural way. I found the pads, both step one and step two, to sting and my skin became a bit rosy. The stinging lasted about a week as my skin got used to the product. After four or five days my skin got quite oily. About an hour after washing my face in the morning my skin got shiny and oily which usually happens in the summer. Sometimes if oily skin gets dry, it can produce more oil to compensate. I think this is what was happening to my skin. It was also around the 5-day mark that my skin started breaking out in places it doesn’t usually break out; my forehead, between and in my eyebrows, my chin. I thought my skin could be reacting to the new product, or maybe the breakouts could be due to a purging effect of the BHA. I can’t be certain. My skin isn’t new to AHAs, BHAs or retinol. The breakouts improved somewhat over time, but still occurred. Despite the extra oil on my skin in the beginning, my skin became quite dry. There was a bit of peeling on my nose, but overall my skin just felt dry and unbalanced. Once the product was gone, I used the Pink Clay Mega Moisture Mask from Herbivore Botanicals to moisturize and rebalance my skin.

After 30 days of use, I actually wasn’t impressed by the results. My skin was smoother and brighter and some fine lines were reduced on my forehead. Perhaps pore size seemed a bit reduced on my cheeks beside my nose (hard to tell as the lighting is different) I think becuase my skin seemed really clean, but I didn’t see a difference in breakouts, scarring, blackheads or hyperpigmentation. I was quite surprised by the lack of results in the blackheads, especially after reading many positive reviews myself before purchasing the product.

This product is convenient to use and the actives stay fresh in individual packets, but for the results I got, the denatured alcohol as an ingredient and the expense of this product I wouldn’t purchase again. I actually got similar results from the Wild Berry Exfoliating Peel from Michael Todd that costs a lot less.

You can cut the Alpha Beta Peel pads in half and store in an airtight bag or container to prolong use. You may want to start out using this product once every few days and work your way up to every day. Even though the directions say this can be used in the morning or evening, I would recommend using in the evening, as the AHAs, BHAs and retinols make skin more photosensitive. Be sure to use sunscreen when using this product.

Astara Skincare Daily Refining Scrub Review

Astara daily scrub
Astara Daily Refining Scrub

This is a gentle daily scrub for all skin types. It has a grapefruit aroma that is refreshing to use in the morning. This scrub claims to clarify, smooth the skin, polish away dead layers of skin and minimize pores.

Directions state to gently massage on wet skin. For more exfoliation you can use on dry skin.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Diatomaceous Earth, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Glycerine, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Calendula Officinalis (Marigold) Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Sodium PCA, Lactic Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustofolia (Lavender) Oil, Na Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol.

The first ingredient is water, then aloe vera leaf juice. The scrub in this is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of silica that collect in the sediment of rivers and lakes. Many facial scrubs and at-home microdermabrasion scrubs use aluminum oxide crystals, so this is a nice alternative. Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate  is the salt of lauroyl sarcosine (produced by the breakdown of creatine or caffeine), a modified fatty acid. It is a foaming agent and surfactant. Comfrey leaf extract, from Beautypedia; “topical application of comfrey has anti-inflammatory properties, but it is recommended only for short-term use and only then if you can be sure the amount of pyrrolizidine alkaloids is less than 100 micrograms per application…” Matricaria extract (chamomile) has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.  Calendula (marigold) flower extract is used for its anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. Rosemary extract can be used as an antioxidant. Sage extract is an anti-inflammatory. Algae extract has antioxidants and healing properties. Sodium PCA has high water absorbing properties. Next is lactic acid, a popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps reduce breakouts, fine lines and other signs of aging. This contains grapefruit and orange peel oils. Grapefruit oil has mood-lifting properties and is an antiseptic to help clear skin. Orange oil is used mainly as fragrance. There’s lavender oil. Carbomers and xathan gum are thickening agents. Potassium sorbate and phenoxyethanol are used as preservatives.

I was worried about using this daily as I tend to think of facial scrubs as harsher, once-a-week treatments, but used this daily for one month. I used about a dime size, added water and massaged in small circles for about a minute. Surprisingly it was very gentle, especially when more water was added. The scrub in this dissolves a bit as it is massaged. I liked the smell and it was definitely refreshing to use in the morning. This product helped smooth the skin and clear the white bumps from my forehead and jawline. I didn’t notice a difference in the fine lines on my forehead or a reduction in blackheads around my nose. I used this scrub while using Retin-A as well. Retin-A causes exfoliation of the skin so there are little skin peelings that need to be taken off gently. This scrub does just that. With enough water added and gentle circles, my skin didn’t feel oversensitive using this refining scrub, as it might have been with something like YBF’s Prep, and the skin’s little peelies were taken off.

This product comes in a plastic bottle with a lid where you push one side and the other side pops up. Over time the lid became clogged, so I ended up having to take the lid off to use it.

I’ve continued to use this, not every day, but a couple times a week and will continue use.

Your Best Face Skincare Prep Review

YBF Prep
YBF Prep

YBF Prep is a microdermabrasion scrub from Your Best Face (YBF) Skincare (not to be confused with YBF Beauty). This is a physical exfoliant that claims to brighten skin, fight free radicals, smooth and prevent wrinkles and heal and protect with vitamins and antioxidants for a smooth complexion. This can also be used on the hands.

Directions state to use at night one to three times a week on clean damp skin. Apply in a thin layer with small circular motions and rinse with cool water followed by a moisturizer. This can also be left on as a mask for 15 minutes to get more benefit from the botanicals and antioxidants. I like to follow this with the YBF Clarity mask.

Ingredients: aluminum oxide crystals, reverse osmosis water, cetearyl olivate (and) sorbitan olivate, meadowfoam seed oil, hydrogenated olive oil (and) olive oil (olea europaea) (and) olive oil unsaponifiables, TEGO® Pep 4-Even (tetrapeptide-30 (and) glycerin (and) water), Leucidal® (leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate), ethoxydiglycol, edelweiss extract, Relistase (glycerin, acetylarginyltryptophyl diphenylglycine), glucono delta lactone, olive leaf extract, licorice root extract, Matrixyl™ 3000 (glycerin (and) water (and) butylene glycol (and) carbomer (and) polysorbate 20 (and) palmitoyl oligopeptide (and) palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7), TEGO® Pep 4-17 (tetrapeptide-21 (and) glycerin (and) butylene glycol (and) water), dl-panthenol(vitamin B5), kojic acid, aspen bark extract, coenzyme Q10, hydroxyethylcellulose, spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone),tetrahydrodiferyloylmethane (turmeric root extract), vitamin E succinate, niacin, allantoin, ferulic acid, lipochroman-6 (dimethylmethoxy chromanol), tetrahydropiperine, vitamin B6 (coenzyme B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate)

There is no added color or fragrance.

Like most of the at-home microdermabrasion scrubs, this contains aluminum oxide crystals. Meadowfoam seed oil comes from the seeds of the limnanthes alba that has antioxidant properties and skin softening benefits. TEGO Pep 4-Even (tetrapeptide-30) reduces hyperpigmentation. Leucidal (radish root ferment filtrate) is used as a natural preservative instead of something like phenoxyethanol. Relistase (glycerin, acetylarginyltryptophyl diphenylglycine) is a tetrapeptide used to treat sagging skin and lack of firmness. Licorice root extract is a salt derived from the licorice plant and can improve the appearance of dry skin by restoring suppleness and also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Matrixyl 3000 reduces wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. TEGO Pep 4-17 is a peptide that boosts collagen and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles. Kojic acid inhibits the skin pigment melanin and is used as a skin whitener. It is, however, a known skin irritant. Aspen bark extract is derived from the bark of the American Aspen. It contains  salycin, an aspirin-like substance, that has calming and anti-inflammatory effects. It has also been shown to inhibit the growth of molds, yeasts and E. coli. Hydroxyethylcellulose is a gelling and thickening agent. Spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone) is still a pretty rare ingredient in skincare that YBF uses in most of its products. It is an antioxidant that works by stabilizing free radicals that are spinning out of control. Turmeric root extract is an anti-inflammatory and helps with acne and hyperpigmentation. Allantoin is a naturally occurring nitrogenous compound used as a skin conditioning agent. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that prevents wrinkles and sun damage. Lipochromin-6 (dimethylmethoxy chromanolis an antioxidant. Tetrahydropiperine is derived from black pepper and helps to increase dermal absorption therefore enhancing the performance of other active ingredients.

I have used a couple other microdermabrasion scrubs including ZO Skin Health Offects Exfoliating Polish, Susan Lucci’s Youthful Essence Micodermabrasion System (this was about 8 years ago) and Astara Daily Refining scrub.

I have used Prep on and off for about 2 years. It has YBF’s, what I will call, signature scent as many of their products I have used have the same smell – kind of a mixture of almond and nutmeg (I think from the meadowfoam seed oil); they use similar ingredients in their line. The aluminum oxide crystals are very fine. You can add more water if your skin is more sensitive or dry. I like using this as a mask as well, as there are so many beneficial ingredients that I don’t want to wash off right away, but if you are short on time, this can be used as just a scrub. The crystals are in a creamy base that rinse very well. After rinsing my skin is not irritated or red and doesn’t feel stripped of moisture. After a couple months of twice-a-week use my skin is much smoother, and I always get whitish bumps and congestion on my forehead which disappear when I use this. Over time fine lines on my forehead are reduced as well.

While this might seem expensive, it has great ingredients and peptides and it lasts a very long time, as you only need a bit of product for each use.

I like to try new products when I run of something and sometimes before I run out, but the YBF Prep will always be in my routine.