This Exfoliator Is Like Baby Foot For Your Face

It's no secret that we love us some gross beauty products around these parts. Prime example: Baby Foot. For those of you not in the know, it's a foot treatment that causes your skin to shed dead cells like a snake sheds its skin. It's pretty much the grossest, best thing ever. There's something about physically seeing all that nasty stuff falling off of you that is somehow both grotesque and mesmerizing. It's like Biore's blackhead strips, but on crack. I find that weirdly comforting — in a world where every product has some miracle claim that you're never really sure is true, something that offers conclusive, goosebumps-inducing proof that its getting the job done restores my faith in beauty.

Sisley's Gentle Facial Buffing Cream falls in this get-the-gunk-off category, but perhaps not quite as vigorous as the aforementioned products. It is your face, after all — no one wants to be pulling multiple layers of skin off of that sensitive area. I was first introduced to the cream at a one-on-one with celeb makeup artist (and R29 favorite) Nick Barose. He was showing off some of his favorite makeup products from the brand and had singled out two or three skin products he insisted were essential pre-makeup prep steps.

I'm not really big on physical exfoliators (i.e. grainy scrubs), as they tend to tear up my sensitive skin, so I had filed my freebie sample away in my "stuff to test" mound and promptly forgot about it. Fast forward a few months and I was at the Sisley boutique in NYC getting one of the best facials of my life. As my aesthetician worked her magic on my stressed skin, I was vaguely aware of her slathering different textures — spritzes, gels, lotions — on my face. Then I felt something applied that was like a sandy clay mask. It started to dry, but when she went to remove it she used her dry hands to massage my skin in circular motions, rather than just rinsing it off. Having never experienced this before, I immediately perked up, trying to figure out what the deal was.

The cream began pilling and flaking off my face in tiny balls of gunk — there's really no appetizing way to describe it. After the majority of the cream was off my face, she wiped my complexion down with a wet washcloth. I made her stop before she applied the next cream, wanting to feel my skin immediately post-treatment. Let's just say that if someone created a cloth that satiny, I would create a hooded onesie out of it and never take it off. So, yeah, my skin felt pretty great.

I immediately went home and dug my jar out of the pile 'o skin care. Determined to make sure it wasn't a fluke/only something that happens when a skin wizard has her hands on your face, I gave it a shot on my own the following week. I cleansed my skin and dried it, then applied a thin layer of the product on my face, avoiding the eye area (because, ow).

As I massaged, the cream began to ball up and I watched, horrified, as big grey chunks tumbled into my sink.

I waited the recommended 20 minutes, then went to my sink and started to rub. As I massaged, the cream began to ball up and I watched, horrified, as big gray chunks tumbled into my sink. Considering the cream was white when I applied it, I was appropriately disgusted by this. I continued rubbing, watching more pieces fall off my face.

Now, admittedly, the majority of those balls were just the mask residue, however, as it detached itself from my skin, it appeared to have taken layers of dead skin with it. It reminded me of that Freeman Cucumber Peel-Off Mask my friends and I used to do at sleepovers in middle school, only way more effective (and expensive).

I struggle with ever present blackheads around my nostrils and my chin — they sometimes combine and plug up to create a super zit (lucky me) but for the most part they are just there, making my foundation look kind of janky when you get up close. Tolerable but annoying. A few weeks of using this and my blackheads were pretty much MIA. I'm assuming they went to a better place — one that was not my face. My skin was not only soft, it was remarkably less bumpy with a much smoother texture.

And, since it was so gentle (which the brand attributes to the inclusion of the soothing ingredient matricaria — a type of chamomile), I could use it two or three times a week without massively effing up my skin. I took a brief break from it for a week while I was on vacation in the woods (the wilderness does not lend itself well to a 10-step skin-care regimen) and noticed those previously absent blackheads came roaring back with a vengeance. But when I went back to using the cream, they were off to wherever blackheads go when they aren't slowly torturing your sense of self-worth.

Sadly, this wondrous exfoliator is hella expensive. I stretched my jar out for about a month and a half, but as I used a Q-Tip to dig out the final remnants, I shed a single tear for the demise of my new favorite skin savior. Goodbye dear friend. Perhaps after I've spent months digging spare change out of my couch (aka the OG ATM), I will be reunited with you once more.

Sisley Gentle Facial Buffing Cream, $95, available at Sisley.

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