Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Review and Ingredients Analysis

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Erabelle is chain of beauty salons that are pretty famous for their brow grooming services (which I've reviewed before a long time ago in 2012), and now they've also launched a skincare product - the Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner! I was curious, since of course beauty grooming services and skincare, while related, aren't exactly alike, so I was interested in seeing how the foray into skincare would turn out to be.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: A new skincare product from a company known for their brow grooming services

As the name suggests, the Skin Softening Refiner is an exfoliating mask. It's a moisturizing mask, with some exfoliating beads from peach seed powder. The natural angle of this product also appears to be played up, with the description touting its "vegetal proteins" (which is just proteins, but derived from vegetable sources), so I imagine this product would also be interesting to those who are looking for such products. The product also has really pretty packaging, with a very cute and girly box (my box unfortunately kind of got squished in the mail, which is why it looks a little crumpled), and even comes with a little plastic spatula for a more hygienic application.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner 1
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: A face mask and exfoliant all in one product

As a big skincare nerd, reviewing this product was a pretty exciting venture for me, because there are so many areas to explore. First, we want to take a look at the "vegetal proteins" in the product, because those are featured in some of the descriptions of the product. And of course, we'll also want to take a look at the peach seed powder in the product, which is the main exfoliant. And then, on top of that, there is also my usual ingredients analysis that I love to do. So there's a lot to do for this review! So without further ado, let's start with my favourite part of the product, which is the ingredients list! Yay, skincare science!

The ingredients in the product are water, and emollients (Octyl Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, which are both also emulsifiers, as well as Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid), humectants (Glycerin), Peach Seed Powder, as well as various types of proteins (Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein) and other ingredients like Honey (which has some anti-inflammatory properties) and surfactants (Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate), since this is a rinse-off product. The two surfactants used in this product, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate and Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, are pretty gentle. So as you can tell, the product is formulated to be very emollient, have some humectant properties, maybe some anti-inflammatory properties, and also exfoliate, with the Peach Seed Powder. And of course, it has some plant-derived proteins. I'd say that there seems to be a genuine effort to incorporate plant-based ingredients with the formulation of this product, so it should please those looking for a "natural" product.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Ingredients
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner ingredients: a range of emollients, humectants, proteins, and exfoliants

So far, the product looks so good. But because I'm a skincare science nerd, I thought we should pay attention to some of the "vegetal proteins", since that seems to be a selling point of the product. Do the vegetal proteins really help? I guess to answer this question, we need to look at two questions: 1) What does protein in skincare do? and 2) Given that this is a rinse-off product, does the protein really help? Let's tackle the questions one by one.

First, let's look at what protein in skincare does. Although certainly there is protein in your skin (collagen, after all, is a form of protein in your skin, along with elastin and keratin), and while your skin certainly loses elasticity as a result of a lack of some of these proteins as you age, you can't really directly replenish protein lost by applying it topically to your skin. This is because protein is a pretty big molecule, and doesn't penetrate through the skin barrier. It doesn't get far enough to really aid the skin in the long run. I've actually specifically written a blogpost on collagen (one type of protein) because collagen in particular gets a lot of hype in skincare products, but the same principle pretty much applies to other proteins - basically, proteins are large, complex molecules, and so they are too big to penetrate the skin. The proteins in this product are hydrolyzed, which means they are broken down into smaller pieces. This makes it easier to include the product in water-based products (like the Skin Softening Refiner), but, as with my explanation in my post on collagen, it's very unlikely that even smaller chopped up proteins will be able to penetrate the skin - they would still be too big. And even if they did penetrate the skin somehow, they would need to find a way to be incorporated into the skin's structure properly before they could produce meaningful effect - a bunch of proteins floating around the skin doesn't really help unless it's incorporated into the skin structure.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Close
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: One of the advertised ingredients are the vegetal proteins

So then, what do the proteins and hydrolyzed proteins do when they are on your skin, since they don't penetrate? If you've read my blogpost on collagen, then you'll already know the answer - it In fact, it's interesting to note that in industry sources, hydrolyzed proteins are used as humectants, film formers, or conditioners, and usually at 0.2 - 5% in creams and lotions. The proteins can also act as a film-former, because they "shrink on the skin leaving a film that softens the skin, stretches out some of the fine wrinkles, and avoids water loss", although hydrolyzed proteins, being smaller molecules, may have less film-forming properties. So there you have it - proteins form a film on the skin, that temporarily stretches out the wrinkles and prevents further water loss (or TEWL - Transepidermal Water Loss - if you want the technical term), and also has some water-binding effect as a humectant.

So I guess now we move on to the second question, which is - in a rinse-off product like the Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner, what does the protein do? When it is applied to your skin, it sits on your skin, it will do its job forming films, preventing water-loss, and being a humectant. But unfortunately, once you rinse it off, then all the attendant benefits of the protein will be rinsed off as well. Since this is a mask product, I suppose you will get more benefit from it than say, a facial cleanser, if you leave it on longer, but ultimately, such is the nature of a rinse-off product - all rinse-off masks essentially will also face the same problems of retaining benefits to the skin even after being rinsed.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Spatula
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: The exfoliating effect is provided mechanically via Peach Seed Powder

Another thing I want to highlight is the Peach Seed Powder. This is a physical exfoliant, meaning that it works mechanically - you literally rub those little powder granules and let them scrub your face, and they are supposed to, by rubbing against your skin, exfoliate. However physical exfoliants, as loved as they are, do present some problems for certain people. Often, the particles used in physical exfoliants, particularly those that use things like walnut shells or other plant-derived particles, can be irregularly-shaped, rather than round and smooth (say, polyethylene), and don't dissolve during use (like sodium tetraborate decahydrate granules). This means that, if you are too aggressive with your use of this product (either by scrubbing too enthusiastically or by using it too often, say more than 2-3 times a week), you could end up causing microtears in your skin, as the edges of the Peach Seed Powder scrape against your skin and can cause tiny little cuts, which in the long run, could damage your skin as well. As this paper neatly sums it up, "because of their irregular shape, the most abrasive scrubs are those containing ground fruit pits and aluminum oxide...are not recommended for patients with sensitive skin. Scrubs containing sodium tetraborate dechydrate granules dissolve during washing, making them the least abrasive".

So, the Peach Seed Powder in this product, much like other physical exfoliants like the famous St Ives Apricot Scrub, may well be a love-it-or-hate-it thing - some people will love the feeling of exfoliation they get, while for others, they may find that it is too abrasive for their skin. For me personally, I avoid anything with physical exfoliating beads and prefer chemical exfoliants (like AHAs or BHAs), just because my skin can be sensitive (in addition to my seemingly chronic cystic acne - yay!), so I always err on the side of caution when it comes to mechanically abrading my skin. To be fair though, the powder granules look finer and a bit more round than some of those in other products I've seen, so they might not be as abrasive as some other scrubs. But your own results will depend on your preference for physical vs chemical exfoliants, as well as your own personal tolerance for physical exfoliants.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Solidified
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: The product forms a film on your skin when applied and left to "melt down"

Now that I've done a lot of geeking about the product's ingredients, let's go into how the Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner actually fared for me. You're supposed to apply this to the skin, wait for 5-7 minutes for the product to "melt down" (I'm quoting the box here), then rub the product around to exfoliate, and then finally rinse it all off, so I did that. The first thing I noticed is that the scent was pretty strong, despite the "natural" positioning of the product. The floral scent isn't unpleasant, but was rather unexpected initially. The texture of this product is light, and not as thick as I expected. However, it does feel a tad oily when applied to they skin - like an oily moisturizer, except that it also has peach seed powder in it.

After awhile, the product turned into a clear, oily film on my face, and when I massaged the skin to exfoliate, some of the film came off in little balls, like the photo above shows. I'll admit that the exfoliating part was not my favourite part - the peach seed powder is honestly a bit too coarse for me, and with my somewhat sensitive skin, I felt like the individual peach seed powder grains were too abrasive for my skin. Then again, my preference is for chemical exfoliators, so I knew from the outset that this would be my least favourite part about the product anyway.

When you wash it off, it emulsifies fairly easily, and turns into a white liquid which washes off fairly easily, although it still leaves some residue behind. I don't mind the residue if I'm just sitting at home, because the residue sort of serves as a very good occlusive moisturizer, but if you do, it comes off fairly easily with a gentle cleanser. Whether you want to wash off the residue cleanly or not with a second cleanser is up to you - I think it will depend on your own personal preferences.

Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner Emulsified
Erabelle Skin Softening Refiner: Washes off easily, leaving a moisturizing film behind

So, would I recommend this product? My honest answer is that for me, while I liked the emollient, occlusive base this product has, the Peach Seed Powder was a bit too harsh for me. If I were to use this in future, I would probably use it as a rinse-off mask, and just skip the exfoliating step. The product's not all bad, though - with its emollient and occlusive benefits, I felt like it did make my skin feel more moisturized and smoother in general after use. I personally feel like I might like a version of this that didn't have the Peach Seed Powder. But then again, as I've mentioned, I'm the kind of person who doesn't like physical exfoliants at all, and yes, I also didn't like the famous cult product, the St Ives Apricot Scrub. I imagine that for every person like me, who dislikes physical exfoliation, there will probably be another person who loves the exfoliating he/she gets from all the mechanical scrubs and beads. If you are that person, then you will probably love scrubbing up your face with the Peach Seed Powder, too, and you'll probably also love the luxurious-feeling emollient mask base. It may be someone else's cup of tea, even if it didn't work for me.
Recommended? Formulation Packaging Ease of Use Effectiveness
Only if you like physical exfoliants 6/10 7/10 8/10 7/10
The Bottom Line: While the mask is formulated to be very emollient with some humectant and anti-inflammatory properties, the exfoliating granules may be a bit too harsh for some people.

(Product was sent for review. Review is my complete and honest opinion. I am not affiliated with/compensated by the company.)


  1. sounds intresing!
    Thanks for sharing~
    I follow you on gfc. ~♥ Hope that you like my blog too~ xx
    follow back~ My new post♥

  2. This seems interesting. I would love to try this personally and see if this will be harsh on my skin.

  3. Hey Jerlene, thanks for in depth look at the ingredients! I found this to be somewhat counterproductive, and assumed the moisturizing property is to make the scrubbing more acceptable for sensitive skin. But I agree, I found the bits too rough and big for my liking.


Thank you for commenting! I read each and every single comment! If you ask a question in your comment, please check back to this post, as I will reply in a comment to this post as well :) Please note that comments with soliciting links to shops or websites will be removed. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...