What’s The Deal with Gommage

The science behind this magic exfoliant is actually kind of brilliant…

Despite the fact that it sounds like a fancy French cheese, gommage is actually a brilliant approach to exfoliating your skin, and IMHO it’s one not enough people know about. Not only is it uber-effective at all things smoothing, polishing and dead-skin removing, but it also manages to be incredibly gentle and fun to use. Haven’t convinced you in the last 100 words? Let’s dive in and see if we can’t change your mind.

What is “gommage”?

Once again, not a cheese. But it does come from the French word for “erase.” Yes, it does “erase” dead skin cells but the real reason behind the name is because the act of using a gommage product is similar to erasing with a pencil. (More on that later.)

Think of gommage as a kinder, gentler exfoliant not made of abrasive fruit pits or ocean-clogging microbeads. One that won’t have your aesthetician scolding you for over-scrubbing or thinning your skin or creating tiny tears or speeding up the aging process.

How does it work?

What makes gommage so gentle is the fact that it starts out as a cream, paste or liquid—no solids in sight. After cleansing your skin, you apply the product and let it sit for a few seconds to dry. Then you get to rubbing.

Just like you get pink rubber flakes as you erase something, the act of rubbing your fingers against your skin (and in turn the product) causes the gommage to pill and rub off—taking a bunch of dead skin cells with it. That’s right: it clings to your outermost dead skin cells and like a lint roller for your face, picks ‘em up and rolls them away via the pilled gommage. No splashing water all over your skin as you try to remove a mask that’s been sitting on your skin, no ruining towels scrubbing flakes off your hair line, no having to wash your hair even though you were planning on doing the whole three-day-old-top knot thing because you can’t pick the stubborn mask out of your hairline. No more!

The science behind gommage is actually kind of brilliant. The formulas combine chemical exfoliation (thanks, enzymes!) with mechanical exfoliation (thanks, rubbing of hands against skin!). Since the enzymes dissolve protein, they eat up the dead skin cells that sit on the surface of your skin and then take them for a ride down the drain once everything is rubbed off.

All that stuff sloughing off your skin? A combination of the product and dead skin. Since another part of that brilliant formula causes the product to solidify and separate when mixed with oxygen and oil, the oxygen- and oil-rich surface of your face makes it the perfect place for gommage to get to work,  all without any tingling, burning or scrubbing with a cloth to get the last dried bits off.

How do I use it?

Here’s the fun part. Like I said before, only use this stuff on cleansed, makeup-free skin. Apply a thin layer of the product to your face or body and let it sit for about 10 seconds. Then start to gently massage your skin until those ultra-satisfying little white balls and flakes start to form. You don’t have to worry about over-scrubbing here—the worst you can do is get overzealous with the rubbing and then the whole thing is over before you know it. Just remember to keep at it until all of the product is removed. Then stand back and gaze at your soft, smooth, plumped up skin.

Seriously, this stuff is instant skin gratification in a bottle. It’s truly astounding the difference you’ll immediately notice in the texture and brightness of your skin, not to mention how the prime canvas you’ve just created for any other products to really sink in and penetrate.

If I may be so bold, gommage is just as (if not more) satisfying than squeezing your blackheads in a magnifying mirror. (Not that you should be picking at your skin like this! Stay away from magnifying mirrors!) There’s just something about watching your dead skin ball up and roll away that’s kind of mesmerizing.

Ready to be wowed? Ready to get off the harsh scrub train onto the beautiful, gentle, unicorn train that is gommage? O.R.G. Skincare’s Mineral Face Peel has my vote. It was the first gommage product I ever tried at home and it’s the one I continue to go back to. This stuff is embarrassingly easy to use and since the wait time is a literal five seconds before you get to start rubbing, the results are basically immediate. The fruit enzymes do their dead skin-rolling job like the pros they are without any harsh after effects or irritation. And the aloe, cucumber, jojoba, licorice and thistle soften and brighten skin in a way that will make you swear you swallowed sunlight and it’s now streaming out of your pores. Seriously. (They make a body peel, too, if you really want to have some fun with dead skin.)

And since your skin is soft and radiant and the whole thing only took about 20 seconds, you may go enjoy some French cheese. Au revoir.

+ Read more from Allie White here

Lead image shot by Jana Kirn.

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