I’m in my 30s and I have combination skin. On one hand, I get some pretty bad dryness, especially in the winter. On the other hand, I still break out — both from monthly hormonal cycles and from experimenting with different skin care products. I was excited to try Sciote Anti-Blemish Vitium Soothing Perfecting Pads ($50) because I was having a pretty bad breakout at the time they were offered to me.
I contemplated where to use these in my skin care routine and decided they sounded most similar to a toner (especially since they contain witch hazel), so I incorporated them in place of my toner. In the morning, I’d cleanse and use a pad, then follow with moisturizer, sunscreen, primer and foundation. In the evening, I’d cleanse again, use a pad and then follow with serum and moisturizer.
I did really like these; they worked well for me, but there were two negative factors that need to be mentioned. First, they don’t smell good. Second, the texture of the pads is somewhat scratchy compared to similar products. (For what it’s worth, I did get used to the scent and the texture after a week or two of use.)
These are alcohol-free, so they are non-drying. If you have dry skin or skin that is sensitive to alcohol, these are definitely worth a try. For that reason, they were a great option for me for winter. I have to be outside in the cold and wind to walk my dog and my skin gets a lot drier then. I definitely do think using these instead of alcohol-based toner kept the skin on my cheeks from getting all flaky and dry.
I would not say these prevented breakouts, but they definitely helped my skin heal more quickly when I got blemishes (even large and/or deep ones). They also did a better job than expected at removing traces of liquid foundation left over after cleansing. They were not quite as good as an alcohol-based toner in that regard, but for a non-alcohol product, I was pleased with the performance. I do feel as if they were soothing and redness-reducing, as well, although I would say it took consistent use over time to build up to optimal redness-reducing effects (maybe a week or two).
I noticed right away that these have salicylic acid in them, which explains why they helped clear up blemishes — this is a common ingredient (whether chemically synthesized or extracted from plants, as in this product) in over-the-counter anti-acne medications. I’ve often had good luck in this regard with products containing vitamin C, as well.
I am undecided on the Methyl Sufonyl Methane (MSM) in this product. It certainly didn’t hurt anything, because my skin did clear up and redness was reduced. But I can attribute a lot of those effects to the other ingredients, things I’ve used before — salicylic acid, vitamin C, maybe witch hazel and possibly the essential oils and extracts (lavender, juniper, clove, cayenne), many of which have slight antibacterial effects on their own. I am wondering, though, if the MSM was responsible for the scent (there definitely was a sulfur aspect to the smell, which is probably why I found it a bit unpleasant at first).
At any rate, as I dug around for more information on MSM, what struck me is that I really couldn’t find any sources that I thought were reputable — just a lot of talk on discussion boards. It seems that topical application of MSM hasn’t been thoroughly studied (a quick PubMed search didn’t turn up many results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature). Since I used these pads twice a day for a month and didn’t experience any negative effects, I wouldn’t avoid MSM, but neither would I go out of my way to find it.
If you are looking for natural ingredients, these cleansing pads have a lot! Polysorbate 20 is the only ingredient that can’t be found in nature and it is present only in a very small amount by weight. The other ingredients can all be (or are) derived from plants and there are no artificial fragrances or dyes, which is a definite plus. In the end, I was able to get used to the scent and texture of these pads and they did provide benefits, although I’m still skeptical about some of the sulfur (MSM) claims.