These days, it seems like there are as many types of exfoliators as there are sheet masks (read: a lot). There are traditional grainy scrubs, facial peels, exfoliating sheet masks, microdermabrasion kits and even exfoliating pads. And we haven’t even touched on the professional methods. But there’s one extremely effective method that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves: gommage exfoliation.
Francophiles may recognize that “gommage” is French for “to scrub or erase.” Tiffany Andersen, medical esthetician and CEO of Tiffany Andersen Brands, says that gommage exfoliation is akin to using an eraser at the end of a pencil. A gommage peel is formulated with enzymes that aid in chemical exfoliation. Once the product is applied, it requires a back-and-forth rubbing motion to remove the product. See where the pencil metaphor comes in?
Gommage peels are very effective because they combine both chemical exfoliation (enzymes) and mechanical exfoliation (rubbing). Plus, they are fun to use. Gommage exfoliation can be as satisfying as pore strips or peel-off rubber masks because we can actually see the products working. To apply, you rub the gommage exfoliator around the skin and little pills will form, taking dead skin cells with them (the pills you see are the product since the flakes are microscopic).
Professional gommage peels were around before chemical peels. They’re usually applied in a thick paste. Once set, the paste is vigorously rubbed to remove the product along with the dead skin cells. At-home versions utilize the same principles, but harness ingredients that are safe for nonprofessional skin care enthusiasts to use.
Katherine Tomasso, national director of education for Yon-Ka Paris, adds that gommage exfoliators are particle-free, so they eliminate dry, flaky patches without irritating or scratching skin tissue. This is what makes them beneficial for all skin types. That being said, Andersen cautions those with sensitive skin, broken capillaries and/or acne against using them. Applying a gommage peel to acne could actually spread bacteria during the removal, leading to more breakouts.
If you decide to use a gommage exfoliating product, you only need to apply it once or twice a week to the face and/or body to “erase” dead skin cells. Try the satisfying technique with one of these best gommage exfoliators.