I am super psyched to introduce you to a new acid darling in my skincare routine today, as well as telling you a bit more about this fascinating new indie brand I’ve discovered, Geek & Gorgeous, which specialises in bringing us the perfect set of chemical exfoliants, be it AHA, BHA or PHA!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for indie skincare brands – to me, they are the ones making bold choices and formulating products that are catering to people who are often overlooked by the cosmetics giants. I also think that when it comes to packaging and general branding choices, indie brands often deliver in a way that is beyond impressive: from edgy-minimalist to cute and playful, most indie brands do a fantastic job in producing oh-so-instagrammable products!
Thus, it is no surprise that the first thing I noticed when I stumbled upon Geek & Gorgeous on Instagram was the beautifully simplistic and subtly feminine packaging! The more I looked into this brand, the more intrigued I became: so far, Geek & Gorgeous only has three products on offer, all of them chemical exfoliants. A brand specialising in chemical peels meant to be particularly gentle and skin-friendly? Well, this seemed like the perfect time to finally give the ‘ole acid peel a try – my sensitive skin so far had been a bit reluctant to embrace the idea of higher percentage acids, but since I’d heard so many positive stories on the net from people who tried them to improve skin texture, I had been dancing around a couple of “holy grails” for a while, without ever fully committing to trying them out.
I was super happy to receive a fullsized version of the Geek & Gorgeous Smooth Out exfoliant, as well as a surprise Acid Explorer trio of all three exfoliants on offer from the brand.º This was a good two months ago, and I have been experimenting with all three acids very enthusiastically, so as to provide a truly in-depth review.
Geek & Gorgeous – Geeking Out over Skin Care!
Geek & Gorgeous was founded by Hungarian beauty blogger and creator of the Hungarian Beautypedia-style website kremmiania.hu, Judit. Her own struggles with severe acne led her to researching ingredients and scientifically proven actives, thus becoming quite the skin care expert.
The philosophy behind the brand Geek & Gorgeous does remind me strongly of Paula’s Choice: no alcohol, no plant extracts that could aggravate sensitive skin (e.g. lavender or citrus oils) and no allergenes such as certain fragrant components (linalool etc.) This is good news for people with sensitive and allergy-prone skin, and it also seems to go with the current trend of minimalist, stripped-down, yet effective skin care that became ultra popular thanks to Deciem and The Ordinary.
Geek & Gorgeous is, to my mind, a lot more sophisticated than The Ordinary, however (and, well, the CEO of the company is also drama-free…). Each of the three chemical exfoliants on offer is formulated carefully to minimalise dryness and possible skin aggravation whenever using actives.
The three exfoliants the brand offers (so far) are:
- Cheer Up: 6% Mandelic Acid is combined with BHA (salicylic acid) to create a brightening, pore-clearing, skin-smoothing and potentially acne-combatting exfoliant particularly great for combination skin.
- Calm Down: 4% PHA works together with BHA to create the most gentle exfoliant of the three, which is perfect for sensitive skin types since PHA is a lot less skin-aggravating than other acids.
- Smooth Out: 12% AHA (Glycolic and Lactic Acid) offers the strongest exfoliation out of all the acids. It works mostly to, well, “smooth out” the skin by removing dead skin cells and helping to speed up the skin turnover cycle; Nopal Cactus and yeast extracts are meant to counteract the drying effects of the acids. This is the peeling I was keenest to try out since I’ve been having issues with skin texture and dullness!
Geek & Gorgeous Acid Explorer: My Thoughts on the Cheer Up and Calm Down Exfoliants
I was so happy to be surprised with the cute “Acid Explorer” trio from the brand, since I had only been expecting the Smooth Out Exfoliant! My Austrian blogger friend Cupcakes and Berries wrote a very favourable review of the Cheer Up Exfoliant, so this was actually the first Geek & Gorgeous product that I reached for. Since my skin was going through its usual, monthly hormonal freakout, I was struggling with visibly enlarged pores and a few breakouts – perfect conditions to give this Mandelic Acid and BHA combo a try!
I had already been a massive fan of Mandelic Acid ever since I started using my beloved By Wishtrend Mandelic Acid Skin Prep Water. Mandelic Acid is a gentler AHA that is a combo-skin gal’s best friend. It is the only AHA that is oil-soluble and thus can really get into that excess sebum. This acid such such a great choice if you want to combine anti-aging benefits with fighting excess sebum and annoying acne flareups. If you, like me, are in your 30s or 40s and despair over having increased wrinkles while your skin still thinks it needs to also behave like a teenager and produce pimples on top of said wrinkles, then Mandelic Acid could potentially become your new buddy!
And, well, what can I say? I’m totally wowed by Cheer Up! In fact, I think if I could repurchase only one of the three exfoliants, it would probably be this one, since it addresses pretty much all of my skin troubles so perfectly! It makes my pores appear less prominent (you cannot “shrink” pores, but cleaning them out on the regular will make them seem less enlarged), and I just feel that it gives such a smooth and clear complexion whenever I use it.
When it comes to the Calm Down exfoliant, I have to say that even though I did like this a lot, it quickly felt like the low concentration was just too gentle for me. If you are completely new to acids or very sensitive, this can definitely be a great exfoliant – it makes the skin look noticeably smoother and brighter, so there is a definite effect when using it. For me, personally, I am just too keen for a stronger, more dramatic effect, and my skin did very well with the combination of the other two acids after a certain adjustment phase, so I would stick to those two in my routine. But, again – I think this is a fantastic starter option.
PHAs (Poly Hydroxy Acids) basically function a lot like AHAs, providing skin-smoothing and texture-improving benefits, while their larger molecular size make them far less irritating. AHAs can be quite strong and drying, while PHAs actually have moisturising benefits.
Please bear in mind for both of these products that they contain salicylic acid (BHA), so if you are allergic to Aspirin, these are not for you!
You can order the adorable Acid Explorer Trio with 30ml samples of all three acids at the Geek & Gorgeous online shop for 28€ – they last quite a while since you only need a small amount per use. Unfortunately, they only ship within the EU for now, but hopefully they will be able to offer worldwide shipping in the near future.
Geek & Gorgeous Smooth Out – from “Meh” to “Oh Wow!”
I took some time to write this review due to the fact that during the first two weeks of using Smooth Out, I felt decidedly “meh”, even a little bit “um…really now?” about this chemical peeling because, well – my skin did some serious purging, and I’m not going to lie: it was a bit of a journey.
However, it is indeed true what many skin care addicts say about what lies beneath that exhausting purging phase: I can now safely say that Smooth Out is a fantastic product that has noticeably improved my skin!
The Smooth Out Exfoliant contains two types of AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) – Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid. Glycolic Acid is the more intense one of the two, for sure, and I’d advise you to always be careful when starting out with a higher percentage Glycolic Acid peel, since it can definitely dry out your skin. You should also be extra special careful about never forgetting your daily sunscreen whenever you have used chemical peels, since the peeling effect will reveal fresh, new skin that is particularly susceptible to the damaging and aging effects of UV rays.
I started out using the Smooth Out peeling three times a week as part of my night time routine. Like all Geek & Gorgeous exfoliants, it is a clear liquid that you can use the same way you would use an acid toner, straight after cleansing and before all the other products in your routine. All Geek & Gorgeous acids have been formulated to offer an ideal Ph range – you can look up the Ph values on their website under each acid, where you also find a full list of ingredients for each product.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Smooth Out surprised me in making my skin break out like it hadn’t broken out probably in years. I even got pimples on my cheeks, which is super unusual for me. The whole purging phase exasperated me (pimples on top of my wrinkles – not cute!), but since I also started to see improvements in terms of skin texture, I still got hooked on this exfoliant even after just a few uses: my skin just looked so much brighter, especially when I started using this on alternate days in combination with the Cheer Up Peeling, after two weeks of trying each of them solo – what a winning combo to have them both in my routine!
While Cheer Up seems to work more towards improving pore size and minimising the havoc breakouts can cause, Smooth Out clearly is the anti aging star out of the Geek & Gorgeous products. It really does a great job in making my often rough and just kind of sluggish/dull complexion look a lot smoother and brighter. I can’t say that it has improved my wrinkles – many sources I’ve studied imply that AHAs can reduce fine lines by boosting collagen production – but my skin does appear more youthful thanks to looking more even-toned and even-textured.
There is usually a slight tingling feeling after I apply all three of the exfoliants, most noticeably so with Smooth Out, but it isn’t very strong or uncomfortable. The purging phase lasted roughly three weeks, and after that I never had any problems with breakouts from this product again. I now use Smooth Out every other day, but usually also take an “acid break” of 4ish days every two weeks or so, just to make sure not to overexfoliate. On those days I still use the By Wishtrend Skin Prep Water though – I just love that product so much!
Geek & Gorgeous Smooth Out – My Final Thoughts
Lately, I have been having quite a lot of really, really good skin days, and the Geek & Gorgeous products, especially the combination of Cheer Up and Smooth Out, has undoubtedly played a large part in this improvement! This is a wonderful indie brand that is absolutely worth supporting. If you have sensitive skin, these exfoliants will probably be of particular interest to you, since the brand consciously tries to minimise any potential allergy risk.
Cheer Up turned out to be my favourite exfoliant out of the three, since it does such a good job cleaning out my pores and overall clearing up my complexion, but I think that especially the combination of Cheer Up and Smooth Out together (not used on the same day, used every other day in rotation!) has made all the difference in the world for my skin, making it look brighter, smoother and just more radiant and even-toned.
I would suggest that if you try Smooth Out and haven’t used many chemical peels yet, to go slowly and make sure to use an extra nourishing moisturiser. The Holika Holika Good Cera Super Ceramide Cream* has been a lifesaver when my skin started feeling a bit too dry from the acids (I had become a tad too enthusiastic about them and overdid it with the daily peels!). I can highly recommend this creamy, rich and yet surprisingly light moisturiser, and in fact the entire Good Cera skin care line, if you intend to really get into chemical peels. Ceramides do a great job in restoring moisture and lipid levels of your skin, and it just looks so much plumper and super glowy the next day whenever I use The Good Cera Toner,* Good Cera Emulsion* and cream!
Make sure to check out the Geek & Gorgeous website to learn more about the brand – they deserve some love, for sure. Let me know in the comments: Are you currently using any acids? If so, which ones and what are your experiences with actives?
Take care guys!
°PR Sample, kindly provided by Geek & Gorgeous for review purposes
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