Beauty, Skin
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Love & Hate: ExfoliKate

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate for some time now. It started about two years ago when I was given a sample. My excitement to try this product bordered on embarrassing.

That excitement turned to horror less than five minutes later, however, when I rinsed off the treatment and found my face not only beet-red, but covered in 2nd degree burns. Some burns were about the size of a pin head, others nearly the size of a dime. The redness lasted for several days and the painful scabs from the burns took a week to heal.

To be fair, this wasn’t exactly Kate’s fault. The product sample didn’t come with full directions or warnings and I have famously sensitive skin, turned red and irritated by even some moisturizers over the years. Nonetheless, this was the first time a beauty product had literally reduced me to tears.

But as the redness subsided and the scabs healed, I noticed something else — my skin was incredibly smooth, visibly brighter, and the sunspots noticeably lighter.

Still horrified from the experience but impressed with the ending result, I decided to give ExfoliKate Gentle a try. An Allure magazine “Best of Beauty” award winner, I anticipated the same illuminating results as the original, but with none of the trauma.

Alas, I was again disappointed. While significantly less irritating, I never saw the dramatic results of the original formula for which I longed. In beauty as in life, there are always tradeoffs.

Then this Christmas I was given not one, but two, full-size tubes of the original ExfoliKate product. I decided to give it one more try before re-gifting to one of my less-sensitive friends. Knowing the potential for another tear-filled disaster, this time I had a plan. It was a gamble that paid off.

So, for my fellow sensitive-skinned friends, here are my tips for garnering the fabulous results of ExfoliKate, while minimizing the horror-show potential:

1.  Use a stopwatch. You want to massage the product into your skin for 30 seconds and then leave it on for no more than one minute afterwards. Timing is crucial in getting the results you want without the burns. Use the stopwatch function on your smart phone to ensure both.

2. Be delicate with your cheekbones. While massaging in the product, be careful not to place too much emphasis on your cheekbone area. This is an area we tend to over-massage and even with careful timing, I still had a near-burn on my left cheekbone. This was also the site of my most severe burn on first use. Go over the area only once or twice, then focus on the rest of your face.

3. Immediately sooth your skin. Keep your most calming, soothing moisturizer on hand to apply immediately after rinsing. Products with coconut oil, avocado oil or aloe will particularly help reduce the trauma and speed healing.

4. Plan accordingly. This is not a treatment to try before a big night out or when you have an important client meeting the next day. Even with the careful timing, I still experienced significant redness which took two days to subside. Save ExfoliKate for a no-plans weekend or a slow workweek.

Sensitive skin or not, I recommend giving ExfoliKate a try. I have yet to find another treatment that delivers such immediate and noticeable results.


ExfoliKate in 0.5 oz, 2 oz, and 5 oz, $22–$175; available at Sephora

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