Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel for Body (And A Few Facts About Skin Exfoliators)

A few months ago I finished my bottle of Gena LikePumice. I'm a menacing zealot about foot maintenance between pedicures, but before purchasing a new bottle I remembered that some time back I was sent a tube of Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel for Body, which the PR person told me was an especially great for feet. Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel is a gel that comes in a regular tube, giving it a major advantage over the Gena mousse. and it's less awkward to use. I was impressed with the amount of "dead skin" that seemed to have melt away as soon as I started massaging my feet. But eventually I started to ask some important questions. Beginning with how in the world do my well-pedicured, lotioned, and regularly filed feet still produce this amount of ick? Also, what ingredient is causing all this exfoliating action, since the product boasts "no acids, scrubs or enzymes"?

Google is our dear dear friend. Searching the ingredient list of Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel for Body has revealed (no pun intended. Well, maybe) two things. First, that the content of this $45/5 oz (150ml) tube was similar to a the very popular Japanese Cure Natural Aqua Gel (abot $28/250ml). Here are the ingredients of both:

Cure Natural Aqua Gel 
Water, 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.

Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel for Body
Water (Aqua), Citrus Aurantium, Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water*, Glycerin, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Steartrimonium Bromide, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*, Oligopeptide-68, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Oleate, Dicocodimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol
* Organic

Not identical by any means, but the major difference I see is that Aqua Revel contains a significant amount of citrus oils which are actually a major skin irritant (ask IFRA) for those who are sensitive to it. The Japanese formula seems simpler, hence gentler. But what causes the massive exfoliation? That was the second revelation: I found this Beauty Brains article claiming that Cure is more similar in formula to a hair conditioner, and that the "peeling" we experience is actually the product balling up as the water evaporates and the acrylates polymer separates.


I don't believe everything I read on the internet (a good practice for beauty bloggers and presidential candidates alike), so I've spent half a a day looking up each mystery ingredient of Aqua Reveal on several sources. Here's what I've got (we already know that none of the various leaf extracts is an exfoliant):

Water (Aqua), Citrus Aurantium (that's bitter orange, also known in perfumery as bigarade), Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water, Glycerin, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (Film-Forming/Holding Agents), Steartrimonium Bromide (an emulsifier, rinsing agent), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*, Oligopeptide-68 (Peptide that induces significant skin lightening shown to have a higher activity than Arbutin and vitamin C. WHAT?), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate ( Licorice root extract, an Ammonium Salt extract that helps to form gels and stabilize emulsions. It is also used to soothe skin irritations and to regulate the pH levels), Hydrogenated Lecithin (an emollient cell-communicating Ingredient), Sodium Oleate (a fatty acid), Dicocodimonium Chloride (an ammonium salt, emulsifier and conditioner for hair), Disodium EDTA (preservative, stabilizer, counteracts the adverse effects of hard water ), Butylene Glycol (solvent, helps other products dissolve in water as a viscosity-decreasing agent that thins creams and gels so they're easier to use, and as a conditioning agent), Isopropyl Alcohol (the most basic stuff, antiseptic).

Basically, I've been rubbing a hair conditioner meticulously into my feet.

But what about Gena products? Are they more of the same thing? It was almost impossible to find the ingredient list of LikePumice (which in itself is aggravating), but I have both that as well as the list for another Gena product, that latter was also sent by PR, Gena Sloughing Lotion Pedi-Care With Peppermint Oil.

Gena LikePumice
Butane (gas, that's what creates the mousse effect), Water, Alcohol Denant (yes, the drying stuff), Polyvinyl Alcohol (a thickener, used as  a surfactant for the formation of polymer encapsulated nanobeads. HA GOTCHA!), Papaya Fruit Extract (anti-irritant and soothing), Nettle Extract (used to treat gout and in flavouring of Gouda cheese.Seriously), PPG-8-Ceteth-20 (an emulsifier), Propylene Glycol (a humectant), Glycerin, Fragrance, Benzyl Benzoate (a component of Balsam of Peru, a repellant of ticks and mosquitoes, a cure for human scabies, and a good solvent, which is probably why it's here.), Butylphenyl Methylpropional (aka Lilial, a fragrance material that's considered a serious skin irritant), Hexyl Cinnamal (another fragrance molecule that imitates jasmine scent and is considered an allergen), Linalool (a common fragrance ingredient in shampoo and household products, an insect repellent and a good stress relief for your rodents).

Gena Sloughing Lotion
Water, Paraffin (mineral oil), Stearic Acid (a fatty acid, commonly used in cleansers), Cetyl Alcohol (a fatty alcohol commonly used in creams  and lotions as an  emollient, emulsifier or thickening agent) , Glyceryl Stearate (a lubricant and an emulsifier), Aloe Leaf Juice, Menthol, Peppermint Oil, Limonene (a citrus-smelling chemical used as a solvent in cleaning products) , Linalool (see above), Triethanolamine (a pH balancer since it's a strong base. Melts makeup and earwax), Silica, Methylparaben (a preservative ), Propylparaben (ditto. Also an anti-fungal).

Other then a headache, what we get here is a strong feeling of being duped. Perfume people reading this must be rolling their eyes so far back they can see their amygdala, since so many of the ingredients listed here are either banned or heavily restricted for use in perfume because of their skin-irritation potential, where it's a tiny amount of the product and you only spray a little, while these are products you rub lavishly into your skin.

I, personally, am not sensitive to any of the stuff above, so all  got was the false effect of melting skin created by the various thickeners and surfactants, and a well-lotioned and conditioned skin that gave me the feeling I was, indeed, doing something special for my feet.

Bottom Line: Use a good foot file and an effective foot lotion (that does contain acids or enzymes).

Aqua Reveal Gentle Action Water Peel for Body ($45) is available at Bloomingdale's, SpaceNK, and Birchbox. It was sent for my consideration by PR, as was Gena Sloughing Lotion. I bought the LikePumice thing myself, and have never tried Cure Natural Aqua Gel, the Japanese wonder. That has to count for something.

Image: Brigitte Bardot in Come Dance With Me, 1959


  1. Yikes, have been considering purchasing something like this. Thank you for saving me. Wonder what you would consider a good, effective foot lotion? What do you use?? Love your blog, have been lurking a while. :-D

  2. I guess the future of perfumery is to be found in lotions... Other than that, my best bet is my 10 year old Diamancel, my body butter in Shea and a foot gel from Isdin (not sure if it's available in the states, it's a Spanish pharmacy brand that I'm sure it's available through the Internet) that feels like an oil but it's the best thing for dry or calloused skin. It's about 10% urea and moisturizes/softens like crazy. The best, if you can find it go for it. Isdin is the brand and it's called Ureadin Podos gel oil.

  3. I love Lavera, and, particularly, Weleda: this does wonders for sored feet, and they look nicer too. They both have the banned citrus oils and therfore smell fantastic

  4. On the other hand, the film-forming exfoliators can actually be quite nice for people with sensitive skin. What seems to happen in the ones I've used is that the little balls of product do give a nice, light exfoliation. For feet? No way. But the same effect is pretty nice elsewhere if you can't handle the traditional acids and abrasives, as long as you know that's what you're getting.

  5. As a scientist I've also been interested in what's going on with these types of products, and I'd definitely agree that they are not true exfoliants (and certainly not stimulating cell growth). However, they may still be effective at removing a certain amount of dead skin and other debris as explained in this link:

    I have no affiliation with that blog (or anything else) but the explanation given there seems reasonable to me and is in line with my observations from using the Cure Aqua Gel myself - it's no miracle product but seems somewhat effective in removing surface debris. However I will definitely be sticking to my Diamancel for my feet as well!

  6. I have ichthyosis skin doesn't shed like it should and exfoliation is my life. I used o have heels so deeply cracked that the bled profusely and caused incredible pain. I have tried almost every foot ream known and have been using medical grade pumice stoness since I was about 8 years old. About 10 years ago, I started using "Kerasol" foot cream with Urea and haven't had even the slightest buildup of callous since! At this point, I can use the Burt's Bees coconut foot cream every other day...or even longer since my feet are in absolutely no danger of cracking. I still use the pumice, about once a week, but I have absolutely beautiful feet now! Everytime I see a woman ahead of me on an escalator with gross, cracked, painful looking feet, I wish it were socially acceptable to offer unsolicited advice!! 😇

  7. I have their peel for the face, which I have also used on my legs. The white stuff isn't really much dead need to keep rubbing the product in and just when you think it's gone and "wtf am I doing this??" you will see gray stuff start to peel off. That is the dead skin. Although I am not sure that that kind of vicious rubbing is good for one's face, although I guess the legs can handle it. Even though I did go overboard once and my shin got red and slightly raw. I believe the polymers in the product act as a physical exfoliant. -EM

  8. Yikes! Thanks for doing all this research! I wonder what ingredients are in a true gommage product. A web search brings up a lot of pages in French! I think chemical exfoliation works much better than mechanical, although it's gradual. For my feet, I like Paula's Choice Resist Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA or Resist Weightless Body Treatment with 2% BHA, or CeraVe Renewing SA lotion or cream, depending on the season. The AHA seems especially good for exfoliating cuticles. Have tried AmLactin, but it's too greasy for me. If I keep up with the chemical exfoliation at least three times a week, I really don't need a file or pumice.

  9. I believe though that papaya has enzymatic activity that loosen up dead skin. I use it as a face peeling in powder form and to marinate meat. (!) Have noticed that if I marinate a beef too long (24hrs) it becoms a mushy mess, so it does seem to have effect. Nevertheless, I think it's a good idea to check ingredient list and as many reviews as possible. One brand I'm particularly disappointed in at this moment, is Dr Brandt, the latest being Needles no more. Expensive and does nothing.

  10. Again, I am so thankful I found your blog because I would continue to be duped by these products. Glad you are able and willing to do the research to teach us :) I will continue with my tools and lotion vs. the specialty products.


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