"Scary" Skincare You Shouldn't Be Afraid Of

Whether your hesitation to try certain skincare stems from rumors (no, chemical peels don’t necessarily equate a Samantha Jones experience) or intimidation of the name itself (we don’t blame you for not wanting to slather something called an ‘exfoliating acid’ on your skin), there’s certainly no denying that not every product is as easy to dive into as your everyday cleanser or moisturizer

Retinol and AHAs 
sound intimidating, but that’s more due to their reputation of being misunderstood and less about them potentially damaging your skin. Besides, staying away from products and ingredients that sound a bit frightening only results in missing out on some of the most effective, skin-changing treatments out there. Let’s dive into the most “scary” sounding types of skincare—and why you really shouldn’t be afraid of them after all. 


Probably the most talked-about ingredient when it comes to intimidating skincare is retinol: A vitamin A derivative that combats everything from fine lines and uneven skin texture to acne and hyperpigmentation. Its frightening reputation mostly stems from the side effects associated with its more potent versions, like Retin-A, which can cause flaking, dryness and irritation.

But much gentler versions of retinol can be found OTC and don’t exhibit these side effects, like our Gentle Retinol Serum, which is specifically designed for those new to retinol. It's formulated with a blend of natural retinol alternatives and encapsulated retinol, which send the active ingredient down below skin’s surface, bypassing irritation and flaking. No matter what type of retinol you go for, however, your skin will become more sensitive to the sun after use, so we recommend applying during your PM routine.


Exfoliating acids, like AHAs and BHAs, are some of the most effective ingredients when it comes to brightening skin tone, fading dark spots and scars, unclogging pores, and treating acne. There are two major reasons, however, why many fear incorporating acids into their routine. First, the word ‘acid’ doesn’t sound too appetizing; second, acids sometimes tingle or sting. 

The truth is, exfoliating acids are derived from very un-intimidating sources like fruits, sugarcane, and willow bark—so yes, they’re safe. And while you may experience a slight tingling sensation when you first start using them, that sensitivity should subside once your skin builds up a tolerance and your barrier is strengthened. Our Daily Brightening Solution is gentle enough to be used daily—without any tingle—and, along with the addition of bearberry extract and vitamin C, delivers visible tone and texture results. 

Physical Exfoliation

Probably less fears surrounding exfoliation have to do with the process itself and more about finding the right product for your skin (we can thank harsh scrubs and old school microbeads for that trauma). Those that avoid exfoliation are probably doing so because they believe it’ll damage their complexion, but skipping this vital skincare step can cause a buildup of dead skin cells, leading to breakouts, more visible pores, a rough texture, and more. 

Finding an exfoliator that’s gentle but still gets the job done is key. Day Maker is a creamy exfoliator made with teeny tiny microcrystals—no harsh, rough texture here—that sloughs away dead skin cells without that gritty feeling, making it ideal for any skin type (even those that are sensitive or breakout-prone).

Facial Peels

Facial peels come in a variety of types and strengths, but all have a similar goal in mind: to dissolve the damaged layers of the skin to reveal a fresh complexion underneath. Facial peels are typically made up of those exfoliating acids we mentioned earlier and, while the stronger ones must be administered by a pro, there are ones that can be done at home, like our Instant Resurfacing Mask. As you can imagine, the benefits are pretty bountiful: Brighter skin tone, less dark spots and scarring, a more youthful complexion...

As intimidating as its name sounds, noticeable ‘peeling’ doesn’t happen with these at-home treatments (this actually occurs at the cellular level; any other peeling is just a side effect). You may notice some sensation or redness during and after usage, but that should subside fairly quickly. If you’re super sensitive, try something gentle (our Overnight Facial might be a better choice). Stick to applying them during your PM regimen and avoid using other acid-based products and retinoids for 24 hours before and afterwards. 


Dermaplaning sounds like an obscure beauty treatment, but it’s actually just a type of physical exfoliation that uses a scalpel (the scary-sounding part) to remove dead skin cells (along with facial hair and peach fuzz) from the top layer of the skin. You can visit a derm’s office to get a dermaplaning treatment or purchase an At-Home Dermaplaning Tool to use from your very own home. Running a blade across your face might not sound appetizing to most, but if done correctly, it’s perfectly safe and yields visible results. Dermaplaning also allows your other skincare to penetrate more deeply (and work more efficiently) while providing a smooth canvas to apply makeup and other products.

If you’re intimidated by dermaplaning at home, here’s a few tips: Cleanse, thoroughly dry skin, hold skin taut, and gently move the blade in a downward motion, moving with the curves of your face. Just skip your nose. Avoid running the blade over any breakouts or inflamed areas and properly disinfect your tool and replace the blade as needed.