Exfoliators and Serums — AHA, PHA, Retinol [REVIEWS]

by - June 24, 2019

Hey guys, welcome back! I’m so sorry that I couldn’t post for quite a long time because of a certain condition. Here we go again with product reviews, and in this thread, I will give you my reviews on exfoliators and retinol serums, or let’s just say the actives, that I currently have. I will post another thread about my retinol serums and put them in a battle, please wait for it!

Most of my exfoliators are AHA based, and I also have one BHA based exfoliator (but 0.1% only, which is supposed to be milder). I didn’t intentionally buy only AHA based exfoliators… Some products were gifted so I happened to have more AHA exfoliators. I have tried another BHA based exfoliator too in the past, but I still can’t tell which ingredient my skin prefers.

Maybe some of you already know that active ingredients can’t be mixed together at the same time because it might make your skin over-exfoliated, and you don’t want that. When your skin is over-exfoliated, your skin barrier will be weak and it can cause your skin to be dehydrated, and can possibly cause your skin to have a breakout. AHA, BHA and PHA are some of many ingredients that will exfoliate your skin. AHA exfoliates the upper layer of the skin, while BHA does the same and also works inside the pores, makes it work better on oily skin to reduce excess sebum. PHA, on the other hand, supposed to be less sensitising because of its bigger particles (please correct me if I’m wrong!), but it works almost the same as AHA.

That’s all for my brief explanations, now let’s jump into the reviews!

Wardah Lightening Face Toner* ~ local product (IDR24.000 for 150ml)
Packaging: tall, but kind of slim, pour bottle with a small hole (I’m sorry I don’t know what it’s called…)
Texture: thin/watery liquid
Main ingredient: glycolic acid (AHA), placed third in the list
Cleanse the skin without drying ~ yes
Lighten the skin (use with the other Wardah Lightening Series products) ~ yes

This exfoliating toner is not a heavy duty one. It is light, refreshing, and it doesn’t strip the skin if used every night —as long as balanced with the right amount of hydration and make sure your skin is not sensitive to the ingredients. My skin personally cannot take this product every night because my skin barrier isn’t as strong as it used to be, and my skin gets easily dehydrated recently. For the lightening claim, I can’t tell how this toner does the job alone because I also use other products from the same series. I’m not impressed, but I think it’s pretty good for a mild exfoliator.
Overall rating: 3.5/5

Wardah Lightening Night Cream* ~ local product (IDR45.000 for 30g)
Packaging: small jar
Texture: thick cream
Main ingredient: glycolic acid (AHA), placed second in the list
Lighten the skin ~ yes

I gotta say that this product is the most potent out of the whole series. I know it because I tried ‘em all myself as I got them sent, thanks to Wardah and Female Daily! Anyway, having glycolic acid placed second in the list, it also followed by niacinamide that is famous for its ability to even out skin tone. Besides lightening the skin, I also use this as an “emergency” cream whenever I feel like my skin needs to be exfoliated because it gives me an instant smoothing effect the next morning. Unfortunately, I can’t use this cream every night because it possibly would irritate my skin because of the reason that I already stated before. I also don’t like the fact that it comes in a jar, makes it less hygienic and less practical.
Overall rating: 4/5

Pond’s Age Miracle Double Action Serum* (30ml)
Packaging: slim bottle with a pump
Texture: lotion
Main ingredient: retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), retinyl propionate (vitamin A)
Help reduce wrinkles, spots, and dullness ~ yes, but not significant
Make the skin feels lifted and smooth in 1 week ~ no

This serum is quite interesting as it has vitamin A and C in the same product. I can’t really tell how it works on wrinkles because wrinkle is not (yet) my concern. For spots and dullness, I think I see improvement on my overall complexion —it gets brighter, which means it matches the claim to help reduce dullness. Even though my complexion gets brighter, I don’t see much improvement on the dark spots on my face. I also don’t think my skin feels lifted and smooth after 1 week using this product. For a more detailed review, please wait for my next article where I will put my retinol serums in a battle!
Overall rating: 3.5/5

The Body Shop Drop of Youth Liquid Peel* (IDR389,000 for 145ml)
Packaging: tall bottle with a pump
Texture: sticky gel
Help shed dead skin cells, dirt, and pollution residues ~ yes
Make the skin feels clean, fresh, smooth, and bouncy ~ yes

I usually don’t use physical exfoliator because I always think it is too harsh for the skin. But this one is not harsh at all because of its texture! I find it matches the claim perfectly. Sadly, I always get tiny bumps every time I use it. The only way to make it works on my skin is I have to wash my face with facial wash after I use this exfoliator. But doesn’t it mean I won’t get the nutrition from the product? Hmm. Well, at least it exfoliates the dead skin cells on my skin.
Overall rating: 4/5

For Skin’s Sake Retinol 2.5 Serum Concentrate ~ local product (IDR270,000 for 30ml)
Packaging: frosted amber dropper pipette bottle
Texture: liquid
Main ingredient: retinol (vitamin A)
Diminishes fine lines, smoothen skin textures and colour imbalance ~ yes
Helps with collagen production ~ yes

This is a beginner friendly retinol product that you can get in Indonesia. I was kind of surprised when the first time I used this because it gave me an instant plumping effect the next morning! For fine lines, again, I can’t tell. For skin textures and even out the skin tone, I see some decent improvements. It doesn’t brighten my overall complexion like Pond’s does, but it helps the dark spots on my skin to fade a little. Another plus point for this product is its design! I love FSS’ branding and the packaging design is just so cool. For a more detailed review, please wait for my next article!
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Glycore 8 ~ local product (IDR30,000 for 10g)
Packaging: jar
Texture: light cream
Main ingredient: glycolic acid (AHA)
Reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots ~ yes
Repair skin’s smoothness ~ yes

Another “emergency” cream whenever I feel like I need to exfoliate, but this one is more potent than the Wardah’s. It rids tiny bumps on my skin, and it also reduces the darkness of my dark spots instantly. Even though so, the darkness will come back after a few days, but I can still see some of them permanently fade a little. Sounds weird, I know! I never knew if it was possible until I experienced it myself, LOL. Tingling sensation occurs every time I use it, only a little and only for a few seconds, not a big deal. The only downside is probably it's packaging because it comes in a jar which means less hygienic and less practical.
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Cosrx Two in One Poreless Power Liquid (IDR195,000)
Packaging: tall bottle with a pump
Texture: liquid
Main ingredient: willow bark water (works like BHA), betaine salicylate (BHA)
Immediately close pores ~ no
Calm down redness ~ not really

I don’t think I’m eligible to review this product yet because I didn’t use this long enough to see the result. I never had a high expectation with this product from the beginning, so I can’t say that I’m disappointed with this product nor I’m amazed. I don’t feel any stinging/tingling sensation when I use this product, I even think it’s quite refreshing and nice, it’s probably safe for sensitive skin. Sadly, it doesn’t match the claim that it could immediately close the pores.
Overall rating: 3/5

*products were gifted

Those are the actives that I currently have! I know I have too many actives at the moment, considering that I don’t use actives every day. There are many more active ingredients, but in this article, I just put AHA, BHA, PHA, and retinol, please don’t mind!

What’s your favourite active ingredient? Do you have any great exfoliator recommendation? Share in the comment below!

PR & collab friendly, please contact me through e-mail or Instagram DM

You May Also Like