Peeling gels are a huge thing in Asia, one of the most recognised being the Japanese Cure Natural Aqua Gel. When talking about classics in Japanese skincare, Cure often pops up, although there are competing peeling gels from various brands. But how do they work and do a gel really remove your dead skin cells?
Cure Natural Aqua Gel comes in a large clear pump bottle, made of plastic, which looks pretty plain. I wonder why haven't they tweaked the packaging or typography to more interesting one? If you're picking up the bottle in Japan look out for 'dupes', as some brands imitate Cure's clear packaging. I use about 3 pumps per use for my whole face, around 2-3 times a week. One bottle lasts me months and months to finish, maybe a year. Some times the pump clogs a bit from the dried gel and might squirt if you're not careful. It's not a big deal, but always remove the gel residue from the pump. Cure Natural Aqua Gel retails ~¥2625 for 250g. Some places to purchase are Loft, Tokyu Hands and Plaza.
How to use a peeling gel
Apply ~3 pumps of gel on cleansed, DRY skin and massage into your skin. Like with cleansing oils, Cure won't give you the best results if your skin is too damp. Gently rub your nose, chin and forehead – or any of the areas where you have dry patches, make up turns uneven or you have used chemical exfoliants. During massaging the product little bits of loose "skin" will appear. It's so gross it's kind of cool. Very cool, in fact, true skinentertainment. After massaging for about a minute, you can rinse off any gel residue and pat dry.
Water (activated hydrogen water, non-acidic and purified), glycerin, acrylates/C10-30, alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dicocodimonium, chloride, steartrimonium bromide, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, gingko biloba extract, rosmarinus officinalis/rosemary leaf extract, butylene glycol
Don't you just love a short ingredient list? Cure Natural Aqua Gel consists mainly of water, solvents, viscosity controllers, emollients and a couple of plant extracts: aloe leaf, ginkgo biloba leaf and rosmary leaf.
The MYTH BEHIND THE 'DEAD SKIN' CELLS
As you probably know, there are typically two types of exfoliants: chemicals such as AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or mechanically removing the dead skin cells with abrasive particles like as beads, sugar etc aka scrubs. In a gentle gel like this, I'd expect to see chemical exfoliants like AHA or BHA as ingredients, but no safe acid would ever remove your skin cells within a minute.
So what are those bits and balls? I tested applying the gel on my bathroom counter and the white bits showed up whether or not the gel touched my skin at all. This has been discovered by many other bloggers as well, but still many reviews falsely claim the bits to be dead skin cells. It's the gel. If you add a little bit of oil and rub your hand, there will be even more bits forming, gently scrubbing your skin. I won't deny some the bits aren't skin cells, dirt, make up etc., but the effectiveness of the gel is based on you manually scrubbing your skin with those bits.
Knowing Cure Natural Aqua Gel is a very gentle scrub instead of a chemical or "magical" exfoliant, you'd expect this product to be a total gimmick. Personally I even try to avoid any abrasive scrubbing, but I assure you – Cure works wonderfully. Bad looking make up or dry patches, I remove my make up and apply Cure for a gentle exfoliation. If I haven't used it in a while I do see more bits forming while massaging the product into my skin. After rinsing the gel off my skin feels so smooth and soft, not dry, squeaky or irritated at all. It won't remove blackheads, but skincare products sink in better and my make up applies like a dream after using Cure. After years of using, I'm still in love. Totally a back-up worthy item.
Have you tried peeling gels?
Edit: Lol I forgot to mention the correct prices - fixed!