Not long ago, InStyle declared that Dr. Wexler Resurfacing Microbrasion System was one of its most valued beauty items. Dr. Patricia Wexler is one of those dermatologists that gets quoted all the time in glossy magazines and, curious to see why, I headed to Bath & Body Works to see how her products stood up.

Dr. Wexler Resurfacing Microbrasion System has two products, Step 1 Microbrasion Skin Resurfacing Cream ($35) and Step 2 Microbrasion Intensive Hydrator ($29.50). I wouldn’t try these based on my assessment of the ingredients. They look fairly awful, as if they had been formulated in reverse – the nasty ingredients that usually come at the end of the ingredients are at the beginning.

Dr. Wexler seems to be very concerned about bacteria as preservatives are amongst the most dominant ingredients in both products in the Microbrasion system.  One is particularly surprising as it is the third ingredient in the Intensive Hydrator. Idoproynyl butylcarbamate is, according to a Danish study, a toxicant that may cause contact dermatitis and have immune effects. It is considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review at a 0.01% concentration. But then, that suggests that the actives listed later in Dr. Wexler’s Intensive Hydrator come in miniscule concentrations.

On the other hand, she is clearly unperturbed by the controversy that surrounds parabens, petrolatum (although hers, one hopes, is suitably refined and safe), PEGs, and diazolydinyl urea (believed by some to be toxic and carcinogenic, mainly due to the fact that it’s a proven formaldehyde releaser). There’s dicaprylyl maleate, described by British doctors as an emerging cosmetic allergan.

The Skin Resurfacing Cream, which is designed to be massaged over the face and jawline for one minute before rinsing, uses medical grade alumina crystals to exfoliate the skin. These are abrasive and too large to penetrate the skin (thankfully, since alumina is a neurotoxin).

Lurking within all this are some nice and useful botanicals such as avocado, white birch bark and skin brightening bearberry and arbutin. The Intensive Hydrator cream has vitamin B, sodium hyaluronate, apple extract and, a little oddly, an ingredient used to deal with dark under-eye circles.

There are a couple of ingredients that I am guessing are there to impart a superficial silky feeling, the emollient hydrogenated polydecene, and CRODAFOS CES, which turns out to be an emulsifying wax.

All in all, I am not sure I can see what motivated InStyle to single out Dr. Wexler’s Microbrasion System.

Ingredients in Skin Resurfacing Cream: Water-Purified, Glycerin, Carbomer 940, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Dicaprylyl Maleate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, CRODAFOS CES, Cetyl Alcohol, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Myristyl Nicotinate  Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Petrolatum, Propylparaben, White Birch Bark Extract 469741, Sodium Hydroxide, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Actiphyte of Licorice Root Actiphyte of Bearberry, Actiphyte of Mulberry Leaf, Arbutin, Alumina,   Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance

Step 2 Microbrasion Intensive Hydrator: Water, Diazolydinyl Urea and Iodopropenyl Butylcarbamate, D-Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Haloxyl, Phenoxyethanol, PPG-12 Buteth-26;PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Water, Fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide