If you’ve got problem skin or a skin condition like psoriasis, melasma, or keratosis, you are already very familiar with the fact that it can be difficult to find products to cleanse and treat without irritating or causing a flare up. And you’ve got to be especially careful when it comes to products for exfoliation.
It’d be easy to just say, “Skip exfoliating then”, but the fact is, every type of skin needs some kind of exfoliation. The NeoStrata line of skin care products was developed by two highly-regarded dermatologists, exactly with those problem-skin concerns in mind.
One of their most popular products, the Gel Plus, is touted to be an exfoliating gel that will not aggravate your condition while giving you a smoother, more even complexion. But is it too good to be true?
Table of Contents
As found on the NeoStrata.com website, the NeoStrata brand was developed by Dr. Eugene Van Scott and Dr. Ruey Yu in 1988, after more than 20 years working together studying diseases of the skin. They discovered that over fifty percent of all skin problems are due to difficulties in shedding dead cells, and set out to find ways to positively influence the formation of new layers of the skin.
In 1975, the doctors discovered a class of compounds, alpha-hydroxyacids (AHAs), that had a tremendous effect on the “development, maturation and turnover of both normal and diseased epidermal skin.” That discovery became their first patent, and the basis of all their subsequent work (they now hold over 80 patents). NeoStrata Company, Inc., located in Princeton, NJ, continues their research developing and marketing skin care brands including NeoStrata, Exuviance, CoverBlend, and NeoStrata Therapeutics. NeoStrata and Exuviance products are sold in over 75 countries worldwide.
Products and Claims
According to the NeoStrata.com website:
Experienced AHA users with oily skin use this exfoliating gel to relieve dryness while evening skin texture and tone.
- 15% Glycolic Acid
- Lightweight exfoliating gel
- Softens and smoothes dry skin
- Improves skin texture and tone on oily, acne-prone skin
- Ideal for experienced AHA users with non-sensitive skin
This extra strength formulation is ideal for experienced users of Glycolic Acid and those who prefer a light, non-greasy and fast-absorbing gel suitable for oily, acne prone skin or hot, humid climates. Glycolic Acid helps correct the visible signs of photoaging such as enlarged pores, uneven texture and pigment, and stimulates collagen synthesis for firmer, younger looking skin. As a highly effective exfoliant, this formula can also be used to help relieve ingrown hairs associated with pseudofolliculitis barbae. Oil-free. Fragrance-Free. Dye-Free. Paraben-Free. Paba-Free. Formulated with 15% Glycolic Acid.
The page also contains extra information on Keratosis Pilaris (KP) in particular:
Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a skin (follicular) condition that appears as rough bumps around hair follicles (goose-bump like appearance) on the skin of the back and outer side of the upper arms and thighs.
Treatment of KP using moisturizing and exfoliating creams and lotions with high strength AHA or urea products may be helpful. They generally need to be applied at least twice daily and work by softening and reducing cell cohesion of the adherent skin scales around the follicle enabling them to be shed more easily.
As listed on the NeoStrata.com website:
Water (Aqua), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium EDTA.
According to the NeoStrata.com website:
Apply to face and other desired areas once daily for two weeks and twice daily thereafter, following cleansing, as tolerated.
Daily use of a sunscreen with this product is recommended.
There were not many reviews on the NeoStrata.com website for this product, but the ones that were listed with the product were all positive. Those reviews found elsewhere were broader, but still, the overall rating was very positive. Consumers liked how well it combated the large pores and breakouts from acne-prone skin, and many noticed skin appeared retextured and less pigmented. Most were expecting the slight stinging/itching sensation that accompanies most glycolic acid products, so it did not surprise them. Those with more severe skin problems also seemed to rate the product well (although we couldn’t find more than one or two with psoriasis, and none with any other severe condition), saying that it managed to exfoliate their skin without overly aggravating it… though the suggestion of working up to using it twice a day was balked at by most.
While the majority of the reviews we found were positive, there were also quite a few negative reviews out there. Among those, consumers complained that the stinging and itching were far too severe to be tolerated. Others claimed that the product actually made their skin worse (in terms of acne). And still others maintained that the NeoStrata Gel Plus did absolutely nothing to resolve their acne, even their skin tone, or shrink their pores. A few complained that the packaging was poor, and there were issues of leaking product. The “clinical” smell and “tight feeling” on the skin after the product was applied were also cited as downsides of the gel.
The NeoStrata.com website was probably one of the most informative and thorough that we’ve seen, both with regard to the actual products as well as the company itself. Each product was described in good detail, with ingredients fully listed. That is a big deal nowadays, and can really help differentiate between a reputable company/product and a company/product that wants to look reputable. The extensiveness of the product line was also very impressive.
With regard to the NeoStrata Gel Plus, we very much like the proven science and technology behind the product. The use of some AHA and PHA as exfoliants works brilliantly on many skin types, but especially on conditions such as acne and psoriasis, of that there is no doubt. We also were impressed by the long-standing history of the brand, as well as the large number of positive reviews found all over the internet.
On the negative side, since this was developed specifically for those with skin issues, it is most definitely not recommended for those with only mild problems, such as simple combination skin or occasional bouts of acne. If that describes you, don’t purchase the Gel Plus thinking “more is better.” It’s not. There is such a thing as too much exfoliation, and you can cause severe damage if used on non-problem skin.
However, since NeoStrata is dermatologist-developed, we would like to see more products offered for those with milder concerns, such as the above. It would be nice for those with combination/oily skin and acne-prone skin to have a truly doctor-developed line of skin care like NeoStrata on offer. That would mean NeoStrata would have to start introducing products with BHA, as opposed to AHA and PHA, since BHA is a much more tolerable mild exfoliant for a broader range of skin types.
Overall though, for those with more severe skin concerns, the NeoStrata Gel Plus is well worth a try!
Our rating: 4 (out of 5)