I wasn’t planning to write this review today (or anytime soon, really). For the last five nights, I’ve been sweatily grunting and straining to push out a big, difficult post that took shape in my head months ago but refuses to pass into solid reality. But after cleansing (my face!) this morning, I found I couldn’t wait to talk about the product I used last night. Why not? It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want!
Disclosures: This post features a product provided for my consideration by Memebox, a Fifty Shades of Snail sponsor compliant with this blog’s sponsorship policy. This post also contains affiliate and referral links, which are marked with an asterisk(*).
Tucked into the big box of items that Memebox* sent me last month, Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution came into my life at the perfect time. Lately I’ve been wanting to change up my acids game. I love my COSRX AHA and BHA dearly, but long-term product commitment is hard when appealing alternatives are slipping me their numbers and sneaking into my stash every time Mr. Rx turns his back.
An alternative like the Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution is especially appealing to me because the single-use packets won’t tie up my acids step for months at a time. Each packet contains one jumbo cotton swab, pre-soaked in an acid peel, and a sheet mask for aftercare.
Purpose: Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution claims to brighten skin tone, improve skin texture, and soothe, hydrate, and moisturize skin.
Best suited for: All skin types, except for very sensitive skin.
Do not use if: You have a compromised skin barrier, overexfoliated skin, and/or sensitivities to alcohol, AHAs, BHAs, papain, citrus ingredients, or anything else in the ingredients lists. Check with your dermatologist if you are currently using any prescription topicals like tretinoin. Check with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.
When and how to use: Immediately after cleansing and drying off your face, use the swab in the Step 1 section of the mask packet to apply the peeling solution in a thin, even layer to face, avoiding the eye area. Let dry. Follow with the sheet mask from the Step 2 section. Keep on for 10-20 minutes as directed on the package, or use for longer if desired. Pat or massage in any remaining essence and continue with your regular skincare routine.
Skin safety tips: This product contains citrus extracts and oils. Use only during your PM skincare routine. Don’t use other chemical exfoliants on the same day as the 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution until you know how well your skin tolerates the peel. Protect your face with sunscreen for at least one week after using this product. (You use sunscreen every day anyway, right? Right?)
Papa Recipe 2-Step Skin Cleaning Solution All Kill PeelingBong ingredients: Water, alcohol, lactic acid, tromethamine, dipropylene glycol, glycerin, methylpropanediol, butylene glycol, camellia sinensis leaf water, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf water, chamaecyparis obtusa water, calendula officinalis extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, carica papaya (papaya) fruit extract, vitis vinifera (grape) fruit extract, citrus aurantifolia (lime) fruit extract, citrus limon (lemon) fruit extract, pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) fruit extract, sodium hyaluronate, trehalose, salicylic acid, citric acid, glycolic acid, sodium citrate, hydroxyethyl urea, allantoin, erythritol, glycereth-26, caprylyl glycol, disodium EDTA, chlorphenesin, ethylhexylglycerin, ethyl hexanediol, 1,2-hexanediol
Papa Recipe 2-Step Skin Cleaning Solution All Care Mask ingredients: Water, methylpropanediol, niacinamide, glycerin, butylene glycol, camellia sinensis leaf water, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf water, chamaecyparis obtusa water, calendula officinalis extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, bambusa vulgaris extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, sea water, sodium hyaluronate, trehalose, adenosine, tromethamine, allantoin, panthenol, caprylyl glycol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, xanthan gum, carbomer, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel oil, disodium EDTA, chlorphenesin, ethylhexylglycerin, ethyl hexanediol, 1,2-hexanediol
Peel pH: 4, which is on the high side of the effective range for chemical exfoliants but is within the effective range.
Sheet Mask pH: 5 (I was unable to take pictures of the pH strips I used for the sheet mask because I forgot; I will update with photos when my order of 5 more of these gets here later this week). A pH of 5 suggests that this won’t have much impact on the lower pH required by the peeling solution. Good news so far!
Notable ingredients: We’ve got two ingredients lists here and lots to talk about, so bear with me.
The peeling solution in the All Kill PeelingBong contains both AHA and BHA ingredients. The BHA ingredient, salicylic acid, is probably not present in a high enough concentration to provide anything more than an anti-inflammatory effect, but AHAs are well represented, with lactic acid high in the ingredients and citric and glycolic acids and urea farther down. The peeling liquid contains 7% combined AHA/BHA, according to the page for this product over at K-beauty blogger Kinseng’s Happy Sheet sheet mask shop, though I couldn’t verify this or find additional information on the product label. Of course, I can’t read Hangul, so I may have missed something.
The peel also contains numerous fruit extracts that provide naturally occurring AHAs and vitamin C. Papaya extract is a source of papain, the same gentle enzyme exfoliant found in my HG Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash.
I’m guessing the alcohol in the All Kill PeelingBong liquid is there not just as a solvent, but also to enhance the penetration of the actives in the peeling liquid. I would normally balk at a product that lists alcohol so close to the top of its ingredients list, since too much of it can be drying. Here, however, I think it will probably be fine unless you have a specific sensitivity to alcohol. You’ll be using a sheet mask right afterwards, which should reverse any drying effects.
Moving on to the All Care Mask essence, I like what I see in the ingredients list. Niacinamide near the top, plenty of humectants, some adenosine anti-aging goodness, and a handful of nice calming, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory plant extracts. About what I’d want to see in an acid peel aftercare product.
What’s troubling about both the peeling solution and the mask essence is the inclusion of several citrus extracts and oils. Straight citrus juices contain bergapten(e), which causes phytophotodermatitis, a phototoxic skin reaction to UV exposure. Bergaptene is present in some citrus oils and extracts, which theoretically makes them a no-no for skin. But, as Chel of Holy Snails, our resident skincare formulator at the Snailcast, explained to me, some extraction methods filter out the bergapten(e). Too bad you can’t tell whether those methods were used on the citrus ingredients in any given product. On the other hand, Chel also pointed out that the practical risks of bergapten in skincare are debatable. There’s no clear consensus on whether citrus essential oils at the usage rates common in commercial cosmetics (typically 1% or less, she said) can even cause phototoxicity, let alone cases of it like those that happen when people get straight citrus juice on their skin and then go out in the sun.
(By the way: Never ever ever EVER put straight citrus juices on your face and avoid putting them in your hair. Lemon juice is commonly suggested as a natural home remedy to lighten dark spots and overall skin tone and is often used to lighten hair as well. All of this is a bad idea. Phytophotodermatitis makes regular sunburns look like nothing.)
So the citrus extracts in the 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution may not be as problematic as they seem. From my point of view, plenty of products contain these ingredients, and before I became aware of the possible risks, I used many such products during the day. It would be irresponsible to say there’s no risk at all, though. To be on the safe side, therefore, I would only use this product at night.
I used the first step of the 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution, the All Kill PeelingBong, in my actives step immedately after my shower last night. The comically oversized cotton swab comes soaked in more than enough product to cover my face and left plenty of extra liquid in the pouch for pH testing.
In the generally-far-less-scary-than-it-sounds world of acid peels, a pH of 4 is on the high side. Meanwhile, a concentration of 7% combined AHA and BHA is on the low side. This is a “peel” that, on paper, doesn’t seem peel-strength at all. That’s to be expected–I’ve noticed that K-beauty brands often refer to daily use exfoliants and even super gentle gommage exfoliators as “peels”–and is perfectly fine with me. I think it’s better for products like this to err on the gentle side so that beginners don’t accidentally mess up their faces. Considering the scarcity and relative weakness of K-beauty chemical exfoliants in general, it’s a relief that the PeelingBong solution meets the requirements for exfoliation at all.
To my nose, the peeling liquid is completely odorless (another relief, since I’ve spent almost a year with the flaming-tuna-tire smell of my otherwise awesome COSRX AHA).
Although the directions on the package say to put the sheet mask on right after using the PeelingBong, I waited about 10 minutes in order to let the peel start doing its thing in the upper layers of my skin. During that time, my skin did start to get a little bit dry, more so than it does when I use other acids. Though the sensation wasn’t extreme or even particularly uncomfortable, I did definitely welcome the mask step.
Usually with this type of two-step mask product, I hang on to the second step sheet mask until I reach the usual sheet mask step of my nightly skincare routine, but with the 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution, I wanted to see how the PeelingBong and the All Care Mask work together. That meant using the sheet mask near the beginning of my routine rather than the end.
I had pretty low expectations of the All Care Mask. If I recall correctly, the sheet mask component of every single two-step mask set I’ve ever tried has sucked. Even my Old Faithful sheet mask brand My Beauty Diary falls a little short with the Glacier Water Soothing Repair Mask that’s included in their 2-Step Balancing & Purifying Cleansing Pack* and 2-Step Moisturizing & Repairing Cleansing Pack*. The mud masks in those sets are amazing: creamy, moisturizing, purifying and clarifying. The Glacier Water sheet mask essence is up to the MBD standard. But the mask sheets themselves feel like the cheapest pulp MBD has ever used, and their fit (at least for me) is atrocious. And I’ve used a Papa Recipe sheet mask before. Their Bombee Honey Mask* is comfortable, hydrating, and prettily scented but doesn’t blow me away or leave me frantically ordering more.
Anyway, I figured the All Care Mask would just be an afterthought to the PeelingBong.
I was wrong.
The essence is clear, odorless or close to odorless like the PeelingBong liquid, and thick enough to stay in the mask sheet on my face instead of dripping onto my neck and chest. It’s nice. But the mask sheet is incredible. Like the illi Hanbang Total Aging Care Green Tea mask sheets, the All Care mask sheet is substantial but supremely soft, like cream woven into fabric. The sheet adheres tightly to my face and stays put so well that I can almost forget I’m wearing a mask.
The mask stayed moist for a full hour, which didn’t feel overly long, since it was so clingy and comfortable to wear. The only notable sensation I had during that time was a slight warm tingle in my cheeks, way too mild to count as irritation.
When I took the mask off and patted in the little bit of unabsorbed essence, my skin felt moisturized and calm. The sheet mask’s results were nothing spectacular, but I appreciated it after the slight drying effect of the peel. Someone less used to chemical exfoliation than I am will probably appreciate the sheet mask even more.
Now on to the results!
About an hour after removing the mask, I was smoothing some essence over my cheeks when I noticed that they felt really smooth. I went to examine my face in the mirror. It did look a little smoother, especially on my forehead where I have the most textural issues. This is when I started to get really excited. Throughout the evening, I occasionally experienced that subtle tingling warmth in my cheeks again, but I took that as a good sign, since my skin didn’t seem inflamed or feel irritated at all.
Now we’re coming full circle to this morning, when I fell hard for the Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution. It happened, as I said, after I cleansed. Actually, it was while I was rinsing off my cleanser. The texture of my skin was remarkable. Beyond baby-soft. Far smoother and softer than the results I get from sugar scrubs and almost as crazily smooth and soft as the time I used a sample Chel gave me of the crazily expensive Natura Bisse Glyco Extreme Peel. After I dried off, I saw that my skin looked super bright and even, lively and translucent, and showing no signs of overexfoliation. Just healthy and so damn soft that I haven’t been able to stop touching my face all day. Yes, it’s okay to touch your face. Just make sure your hands are clean.
Conclusion: As a longtime AHA and BHA user with a fair tolerance for acids at daily use concentrations, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution, but I did. The results I got from this product were disproportionately great, considering the apparent weakness of its formulation. That “weakness” turned out to be a strength, since the peel was amazingly gentle on my skin. I imagine this product could be even more impressive for people who aren’t as used to acids as I am. Used every few days, Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution might even be a viable alternative to daily or almost-daily AHA and BHA use. To test this out, I’ve already ordered myself five of them.
I’ll report back with Volume 2 of this review once I’ve evaluated the product as a regular-use acid product. In the meantime, I’m thoroughly impressed with it as a one-off treatment. The only reasons I’ve knocked a few tenths of a point off of the final score are the presence of citrus extracts and oils and the absence of information on the concentrations of specific actives. For me, Papa Recipe 2-Step Skin Cleaning Solution turned out to be a surprise holy grail.
Where can I buy Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution?
Memebox USA carries Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solution for $4 each* and has created a special discount code for Fifty Shades of Snail readers! From now until 9am PST on Friday, February 19, enter the code PEELMENOW at checkout to get 20% off of any Papa Recipe 2 Step Skin Cleaning Solutions in your cart. The discounted price is $3.20 apiece.
Is this your first time shopping at Memebox USA? You can get an additional 20% off of your first purchase by using my referral link* to register!
Have you tried any jumbo cotton swab peels yet?