Last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed when a video caught my eye. It was from Hello Giggles, and showed a young woman rubbing a Korean skin-peeling gel onto her face. As she rubbed, her skin balled up into little clumps and shed into her hands. Watching her skin peel away made me feel a little queasy—but I could not look away. See for yourself:
Hello Giggles (which shares a parent company with Health) claims the featured product, Dr. G Beauty Brightening Peeling Gel, "balls up with dead skin cells and feels like your skin is shedding," and that the active ingredient is cellulose, a chemical exfoliant.
Korean women are known for their impeccable complexions and their super-involved, multi-step skin care routines. Plus, it turns out that people all over the internet are obsessed with this Dr. G gel; Buzzfeed staffers, countless YouTubers, and members of Reddit's Asian Beauty subreddit are fans. But it's one thing to apply a nourishing face mask or serum, and it's another to purposely slough off the top layer of your skin like a molting snake. So I asked our editorial assistant, Kelly, to reach out to a dermatologists to get their take.
So is this gel safe? The verdict: "It's safe to use," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based derm. "It has aloe, which is soothing for the skin, licorice for brightening, and glycerin, which is moisturizing. I'd recommend it for removing the dead skin cells from the face."
Mona Gohara, MD, a Danbury, Conn.-based dermatologist, agrees that using the Dr. G gel will probably do you no harm, and may be great for evening out complexion and skin tone. But she does advise checking in with your doc before you slather it on your face, especially if you have rosacea, eczema, or acne. "Stay on the safe side and check in with someone you can guide you through your routine," she says.
So there you have it. For $28 at Nordstrom, this is a moderately priced way to experiment with Korean beauty. Now go get glowing.