(Trial Run)

I Thought Daily Exfoliants Were Too Harsh For Me—Until I Tried This One

It's so gentle.

Kaitlyn McLintock
Dermalogica daily milkfoliant tester kaitlyn

/In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, our beauty writer is testing the new Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant.

As a longtime beauty writer, I’ve tried hundreds if not thousands of exfoliating products. Many of them claimed to be suitable for daily use, yet they contained too high of a percentage of exfoliating acids or overly abrasive particles, and they inevitably led to irritation. Over time, I started to avoid anything that was marketed as a daily exfoliant all together. Or, at the very least, I wouldn’t use it as directed. I just felt like these products would always be too much for my skin.

That being said, I consider myself an intrepid product tester, so when I had the chance to try Dermalogica’s new Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator before it launched, I had to give it a shot. Even though it’s marketed as a daily exfoliant, there was nothing about the product description that caused alarm. In fact, it was quite the opposite. With a combination of oat, coconut, and grape extracts, plus AHAs and BHAs, it promises to polish and smooth skin while supporting the natural moisture barrier. I was intrigued, and I had to find out if it was really as gentle as it claimed to be. Here’s what I found after using it every single day for two weeks.

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Fast Facts

  • Price: $64
  • Best for: Smoothing and polishing the skin and supporting the moisture barrier.
  • Your rating: 4.5/5
  • Clean/Cruelty-Free? Yes.
  • What we like: It’s gentle and contains a variety of nourishing plant extracts.
  • What we don’t like: The milky texture can get runny and a little messy.

My Skin

I have a mild case of rosacea, so for me, a good skin care product is one that doesn’t cause extra redness or irritation. I’m also always looking to correct dehydration and plump up the little fine lines that are beginning to appear on my forehead and around my eyes. Maybe it’s because I was a constant beach-goer in high school (who was not-so-diligent about SPF) or maybe it’s because I live in Austin, Texas and the sun is unavoidable, but I’m also seeing visible signs of sun damage appear mostly on my nose and cheeks. As such, exfoliation is a key step in my skin care routine. I count on weekly exfoliating masks to resurface my skin, smooth texture, and slowly lift sun-induced hyperpigmentation.

Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator

This new daily exfoliant is a good option for people who have sensitive skin, like me. It starts out as a dry, yellowish powder. When you add water and rub it between your fingers, it transforms into a slight, milky lather. With ingredients that are rich in alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids — namely grape extract and arginine — it gently exfoliates the skin by dissolving dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover. There’s also papain extract (which is harvested from papaya) and coconut milk, both of which play a role in smoothing and softening the skin. That’s not to mention the bevy of botanical extracts that are included to nourish and soothe the skin including oat, orange peel, bergamot, rosewood, pumpkin, cucumber, and carrot extracts.


The Science Behind Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick, this exfoliant is so soothing thanks to two key ingredients, specifically coconut milk and oat bran extract. “Coconut milk can be both soothing and moisturizing on the skin. It is rich in hydrating ingredients, antioxidants, and amino acids,” she says. “Oat bran extract has both soothing properties as well as antioxidant benefits. Combining coconut milk and oat bran extract with exfoliating acids such as AHAs and BHAs can be a helpful way to reduce the potential irritation or sensitivity that may occur with exfoliation.”

Still, though, Dr. Garshick isn’t sold on the necessity for a daily exfoliant. “If an exfoliant is gentle enough, it may be okay to use daily providing the skin doesn’t get irritated. That said, most people don’t need to exfoliate every day for healthy, glowing skin — just a few times per week may be sufficient.” In other words, listen to your skin. If you don’t think it needs daily exfoliation, you can still use this product, just pare back to using it a few times a week instead.

First Impression Of Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator

Off the bat, I was surprised that the exfoliant was so gentle. Remember: I’ve had bad experiences with other so-called daily exfoliants in the past, so I was expecting this one to be grainier in texture. In reality, though, it was more of a finely milled powder. Once I dampened the powder and rubbed it between my fingers, I noticed it instantly began to transform into a milky, frothy texture. Once I applied it to my face, and began to massage it in circular motions, I was pleased to find that it glided across my skin smoothly and it was more of a polish than a scrub.

It’s also worth noting that the bottle is pretty big at 2.6 ounces. That’s a good thing, considering that it’s for daily use. I’ve been using it as directed for two weeks, and I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in it.

How I Used Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator

I chose to use this product at night versus in the morning. It just made more sense for my skin care routine, and I liked the thought of sloughing away dead skin and any sunscreen or makeup residue along with it. After cleansing, I would dispense about a teaspoon amount of powder into the palm of my hand. I’d wet it with a small amount of water, and rub it between my hands to create a milky lather. Then, I would massage it in circular motions across my face, concentrating on areas where I felt like I needed extra exfoliation (like my forehead and my T-zone). After a minute or so, I would rinse it off with water and move on to the other steps in my skin care routine — usually just serum and moisturizer.

After using the Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Exfoliator for two weeks@kaitlyn_mclintock

My Results

Surprisingly, my skin didn’t become red or irritated even though I was using it every single night for two weeks. Instead, it was calm and smooth, and even though I might have been imagining it, I felt like my serum and moisturizer were able to sink deeper into my skin after the first few days of use.

After two weeks, I see less texture in my T-zone. I have fewer bumps and the pores on my nose look slightly smaller. The fine lines on my forehead look less noticeable, too. The only thing it hasn’t had a visible effect on is my sun damage. That’s to be expected, though. After all, hyperpigmentation is notoriously difficult to treat, and using a super gentle exfoliant for two weeks just won’t cut it.

Is The Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant Worth It?

I think this product is absolutely worth it if you appreciate a gentle, daily exfoliant, you’re looking to smooth and polish your skin, or you can’t tolerate other, more aggressive exfoliating products. I enjoyed using it as part of my nighttime skin care routine, and I definitely saw smoother, slightly brighter results.

However, if you don’t have sensitive skin, and you like the feel and the effect of heavier-duty exfoliants, I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the product for you. It definitely doesn’t feel like a traditional exfoliating scrub. Also, if you’re looking for an exfoliant to address stubborn hyperpigmentation, I would also suggest looking elsewhere. This one might be too gentle.

Sure, Daily Milkfoliant is $64, which might sound a little steep, but you get a lot of product for the price. Like I said, I’ve been using it daily for two weeks, and there’s still quite a bit left. Then, I have to take the results into account. Personally, I think the gentle skin-smoothing and brightening results are well worth it.

Product Specifications:

Product name: Dermalogica Daily Milkfoliant

Ingredients Highlights: Rice Starch, Oat Kernel Protein, Coconut Fruit Extract, Orange Peel Extract, Pumpkin Fruit Extract, Sea Salt, Rosewood Oil, Oat Bran Extract, Clary Oil

Size: 2.6 oz./74 g

Suitable For: All skin types.

BDG product reviews and recommendations are written and conducted by writers and editors with expertise in their fields. Testers often have specific experience with the situation or product at hand, and/or their review or recommendation is provided in consultation with experts. You can learn more about our standards here.