If you’re into Asian skincare, then you’ve probably already heard of Japanese peeling gels. Also known as gentle physical exfoliators, skincare products under this umbrella are known for their ‘instant peeling effect’. They deliver fast-action exfoliation and skin surface dirt removal without the harshness often attributed to facial scrubs or potent chemical exfoliators. This is why it has earned its place in the routines of many skincare enthusiasts, both in Japan and overseas.
Despite its popularity, however, there are many questions and misconceptions about its usage and efficacy. So today, we’re here to answer two main themes: what exactly is the real deal about Japanese peeling gels and do they really work?
We had a chat with dermatologist and Luminisce Holistic Skin Innovations CEO Dr. Kristina Reyes-Bacani, as well as long-time peeling gel users and skincare enthusiasts Ryan Sim and Vinna Er to give us their perspective on this Japanese skincare product.
Fact-check: peeling gels don’t exactly ‘peel off’ your skin
The term ‘peeling gel’ is definitely scary, making one ask if it truly is gentler compared to other exfoliators. However, Dr. Reyes-Bacani confirmed that “peeling gels do not actually peel the skin,” but rather “gently exfoliate by removing the dirt or oil and some dead skin cells” through the use of “carbomers (acrylates) and cellulose." These two components absorb “both oil and water [in the skin] and form a fibre that attracts the sebaceous glands’ oil, along with some top layer dead skin cells”, leaving the skin feeling softer and cleaner upon usage without being stripped of moisture. These substances, when combined, produce the white substance you see pilling on the surface of your skin when you start rubbing the peeling gel.