The Face Exfoliator That Really, Really Works

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We’ve all heard it before: regular exfoliation equals more radiant skin. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve tried a handful of exfoliators over the years and was never satisfied until I found Koh Gen Do Soft Gommage Gel a few years back. It’s unlike anything else out there. Seriously. The product somehow manages to lift away dead skin cells on your face (literally!) and smooths your complexion out like nobody’s business. So what, exactly, makes this product different from the rest?

For starters, it isn’t formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids, or BHAs, which are super common in facial scrubs. And in fact, it isn’t a scrub at all. Instead, it’s a peeling gel (“gommage,” or French for “to erase”) that’s designed to be non-irritating on even the most sensitive skin. That’s thanks to botanical ingredients, which benefit and nourish the complexion simultaneously. Rosemary extract helps keep the capillaries on your face healthy, and can boost circulation for more radiance and clarity; chrysanthellum indicum extract reduces redness and irritation; and white birch sap gently lifts oil and other residue.

Typically peeling gels (or gommage gels) are used during professional facials: the aesthetician applies a thin layer to your face and lets it sit for a few minutes before massaging gently to remove the product. As it’s rubbed, the gel rolls up off the skin, picking up the outermost layer of dead cells with it. It’s kind of gross and alarming to see, however, it’s a good thing that really helps keep your complexion healthy-looking. Koh Gen Do’s gommage gel gives you that same shedding effect at home—which is pretty amazing. And it means you can skip the spa visit!

Using the product at home is a pretty similar process. Starting with clean skin (remove makeup, wash your face, and pat it dry), you just massage in a pea-size amount. The gel quickly absorbs dead cells, and almost immediately you’ll see small white flakes—your dead skin!—surface, form little clumps, and roll off onto your fingers. And then you rinse it all off.

I kid you not, I noticed an instant difference the very first time I used it. My skin never feels as smooth or refreshed—or looks as glowing—as it does after I use this stuff. For almost three years, I’ve used it twice a week, and I can’t see myself ever switching back to another exfoliator. My face can’t tolerate super grainy scrubs, and Koh Gen Do has never caused it any issues. At $45 for 2.12 ounces, It’s not cheap, but the tube lasts a few months and is worth every penny. Skin care is something I’m willing to splurge on, especially when the results are this noticeable.