I was recently invited to check out new additions to an existing line of natural beauty products, InstaNatural. I wasn't previously aware of the line, though they’ve been around since 2013, and when I got the invitation to try out samples and chat with Heather Wilson, InstaNatural’s director of brand development and esthetician, as perfectly alluring as the line itself looked, one product in particular jumped out at me.
The glycolic peel is described on the website as “a professional grade exfoliation treatment infused with powerful ingredients designed to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration and pores while also providing nourishment to the skin.” It’s described in my mind as YAY, AN AT-HOME CHEMICAL PEEL, YIPPEEEEEEEE!
Heather reminded me that, of course, a product designed for at-home use is going to be of a safer pH level, but the range for pH levels in ingredients used in chemical peels for cosmetic purposes is actually not that wide, and the real difference in comfort level and safety is in buffering those core ingredients with other elements to vary the concentration level. Also, glycolic acid is a naturally occurring substance, so while it is classified as a “chemical” peel, battery acid it is not.
InstaNatural doubles — and then triples — down on harnessing nature in its glycolic peel by adding vitamin C and sunflower seed oil. They’re combined with the professional-grade glycolic and hyaluronic acids, making it the real deal for sure, and priced at far less than other at-home peels I've seen ($24.97 for a 1-oz bottle, which will last for a while because you just apply one thin layer per application).
Heather, whose own skin was glowing like the North Star, reminded me that the slightly lower pH for safety doesn’t compromise results. In fact, it empowers us to ensure potentially better results than those who splurge on occasional $150 glycolic peels at a med spa or salon because, even if you can afford to go in for facials every four to six weeks (lol), you can maintain and maximize your exfoliation by doing the at-home peel every week (yassss).
In using the peel, I felt more than what I would call a tingle but definitely not anything too uncomfortable, and it only stays on for a minute (or up to two minutes after your first few times, depending on individual tolerance), which is another reason why I get so jazzed for at-home peels: no chemical peel, by virtue of what it is in the first place, can ever really take that long.
I chuckled as I remembered different spas I’ve visited where they did their best to pad the experience out with other random stuff to justify the hefty price tags or, even worse, expand the appointment by upselling other services. Granted that a neck and shoulder massage or having someone gently apply moisturizer very slowly with a fan-shaped paintbrush are delightful, but c’mon. The peel itself only takes a few minutes, soup to nuts, which makes more sense to me as an awesome part of serious skin care to do on a regular basis at home during the opening credits of whatever TV show I’m streaming that night, as opposed to a Big Thing needing an appointment and fanfare.
Another thing I love about this peel is that it’s a much-needed reminder that I don’t have to destroy my skin to see results. In looking up more about pH levels, I came across this great study on chemical peels from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which says, in part, “peeling solutions with a pH below 2 demonstrated the potential to induce crusting and necrosis…at this time there is no evidence that creating necrosis leads to a more favorable result of the peel.”
For anyone like me, who is inclined to exfoliate to the point of visible redness, and assault my hair with the blow-dryer like it owes me money, and “see how far I can push” a chemical peel, that is a necessary caveat. The hardcore peels that take off layers of skin (reminder that necrosis means skin death) do stimulate collagen as a natural response to injury, but injury is not always necessary and is especially counterproductive for sensitive skin like mine.
InstaNatural also blew my mind by improving on the beloved super-product coconut oil. Yes, King Coconut Oil can be improved upon. OK, maybe not “improved upon,” since they haven’t altered what it is, just the consistency. InstaNatural’s Fractionated Coconut Oil needed an explanation for me, because as much as I enjoy vocabulary, “fractionated” was a new one.
Recalling simple elementary school lessons in root words helped me get that it means that something has been broken down into its parts (fractions) or components. InstaNatural is far from the first purveyors of fractionated coconut oil, and the lovely Heather explained the process like this: “The fractionation process removes some of those long-chain fatty acids, and it leaves some of the other good-for-you fatty acids so that it remains in its liquid state, and that’s the coconut oil that’s best for cosmetic purposes — it makes it really easy to pump and apply directly to the skin, it’s a little lighter in weight and texture, so it absorbs easily, and the fractionation process is also nice because it makes it a neutral aroma, so you can mix it in with your favorite essential oil(s) or boost your own moisturizer for extra moisture at night…”
Heather went on to detail coconut oil use on every area of the body, in your hair, etc.: Coconut oil is truly my personal MVP, and although I was a bit saddened at first that the coconut-y smell is minimized in fractional distillation, being able to add this pure coconut oil to other products so easily, and without worrying about clashing fragrances or scooping it in greasy form or melting it down, is a treat.
And speaking of fragrances, fans of Bonne Bell lip glosses might be disappointed, but the extreme lightness of the InstaNatural products’ fragrances are another reminder of the company’s dedication to keeping it real (natural).
Their incredible vitamin C trio, for example, smells lightly of citrusy goodness, but very lightly, which is only natural. I’ve grown so accustomed to vitamin C products smelling like LEMON! or ORANGE! that leaps out of a bottle and punches you in the face, but that’s silly — just like natural grape juice does not glow purple, so much coloring and scent is added to skin care products for marketing purposes, and they’re neither needed nor welcome.
One thing InstaNatural adds that IS very welcome to me are the sweet inspirational phrases under some of the box tops. I may be a goofball, but I’ll take this kind of thing where I can get it. (And please disregard the fact that I tore open one of the boxes because apparently I am a savage, idk.)
One product that does have a clear and wonderful aroma is InstaNatural’s rose water. Probably because it contains rose petals and water. Oh, and a bit of vitamin C as well, because as much as we try to tinker with chemicals and potions and whatnot for skin care, it turns out that nature had us covered all along.