Our Rating: 3 stars

Reviewed by Charley

I prepared for the arrival of my Dare to Try jar of Skinfinite Micro Derma Scrub ($35) by benching all exfoliation products in my skincare line-up: I’ve been using a ddeh meeruh cloth, aka Kim’s Korean Secret, with a creamy cleanser every night to remove layers of sunscreen, makeup, dirt and dog kisses from my face (I find that the cleanser lubricates the viscose washcloth so it’s more like gently scouring than exfoliating). Like Mark – you can read his review of Micro Derma Scrub here – I find my oil glands thrown into high gear when the weather warms. I have to stay on top of my pores to keep them from getting clogged and developing white heads, blackheads or acne. I also use Reviva 10% Glycolic Acid Renaissance Cream once a week instead of night cream to refresh the dry, scaly skin on my cheeks and chip away at a few liver spots. With rave reviews preceding the Micro Derma Scrub’s arrival, I was ready to be impressed.

And I was. The Scrub has a faint citrusy scent – uplifting and refreshing, like walking into a fancy spa. The mechanical exfoliation is performed by ground-up bamboo stem in a creamy emulsion. It’s not as traumatizing as ground walnut shells or apricot seed hulls. The instructions say to use once or twice a week; because my skin is not particularly sensitive and is accustomed to AHAs and scrubs, I went with twice. I splash my face with water, apply a thin layer of the scrub, then let the lactic acid do its thing for about five minutes, massage gently for another two, then rinse. My skin feels clean and fresh. It has a soft, smooth and slightly tacky finish, which I attribute to the dimethicone, skin conditioners, fatty acids, oils and acrylates in the formula. On the nights when I don’t use the scrub, it feels like there’s not as much sebum in my T-zone to clean up. After two weeks, I noticed and felt definite improvements: blackheads on my nose were much less visible, the whiteheads on my chin felt a lot less sandpaper-y, and I had no acne breakouts during my monthly surge of progesterone. After four weeks, the liver spots and sallowness have not budged, but I knew those require a good deal of time and patience.

I had no bad reactions to report, but then again, I don’t have very sensitive skin. (I get acne rosacea flare-ups but rarely.) And even though I occasionally include my hands and forearms in the twice-weekly scrub, there’s enough left in the jar to last six months, making it a great value for great results.

A few notes on ingredients: Passionflower shares top billing with lactic acid and bamboo on Skinfinite’s website for “removing surface debris, lifting impurities and detoxifying.” There are heaps of studies on passionflower’s positive effects on anxiety, stress and mood when taken internally, but I could find none on its topical use. It is popular in homeopathic medicine as a treatment for hemorrhoids, burns, muscle pains and swelling. Allantoin helps shed outer layers of skin, promotes healthy new growth and enables the skin to absorb more moisture. Gluconolactone, an antioxidant chelator (it binds metals that would otherwise promote oxidation in skin) and a polyhydroxy acid, improves sallowness, firmness and roughness just like alpha hydroxy acids – albeit to a lesser degree – but causes less irritation than AHAs, especially to those with rosacea and atopic dermatitis.

Also in the ingredient list is the usual antagonist phenoxyethanol, but perhaps not so critical in a rinse-off product. That generic “fragrance/parfum” can be tricky for people with allergies and sensitive skin. There is also dimethicone, a silicone, but its size is not likely to penetrate the skin. The “fly” in my ointment is the rosewood oil, which is extracted by steam distilling wood chips from the rosewood tree which is on several endangered lists. There are efforts to produce oil from the leaves, but it’s too soon to tell whether it’s sustainable or if the resulting oil meets the exacting standards of the perfume industry. I’m not ready to write off this product completely, so I dispatched a hopeful note to Skinfinite with my concerns. After all, this is the company that gave us LOL Eye Serum and The Balm, which are perfect in my estimation.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Bambusa Arundinacea (Bamboo) Stem Powder, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Lactic Acid (L), Dimethicone, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Squalane, Cetyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate (D-alpha), Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Allantoin, Mica, Passiflora Laurifolia (Passionflower) Flower Extract, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Alcohol Denat., Potassium Sorbate, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Glycol Distearate, Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Carbomer, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Fragrance/Parfum