When it comes to slathering acids on my face, I have a slightly more YOLO approach than most people because my skin is pretty resilient. I use some form of acid every day, and I’m always willing to test out new ones, especially if they come in a convenient application form. (Have I mentioned I’m also lazy?)
Anyway, when I got a chance to try out the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads for review, I was super excited (partly because I’ve come to love the brand and partly because of the allure of easy acid application).
So, if you also like no-fuss acid application, or you’re looking for a beginner-friendly chemical exfoliant, this review is for you!
Jumping In: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
First Aid Beauty advertises these pads as a daily treatment option to “safely and effectively exfoliate, tone, and brighten all skin types.” Normally, when a brand makes claims like that, I’m a little skeptical. Most people can’t use acids every day, and if it’s gentle enough for everybody (including people with sensitive skin), am I even going to get results?
These were my thoughts going into this experiment, but I liked the ingredient list and the pad application, so I decided to try them because honestly, why not?
Who Can Benefit From These Pads
Like I said above, these pads are intended to provide gentle exfoliation for a smoother, brighter, and more even skin tone. If you have any of these issues, these pads might be a good fit:
- Enlarged pores
- Uneven skin tone
- Roughness or noticeable texture
Also, if you’re new to acids or feel intimidated by the thought of accidental overexfoliation, these are a very safe place to start.
If you’re new to acids or are worried about accidental overexfoliation, these are a very safe place to start.
Who Should Skip Them
These pads are marketed as suitable for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin. That being said, if you’re sensitive to lactic or glycolic acid specifically, or you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, you might want to skip these pads.
Where These Fit Into Your Routine
Because they’re an exfoliant, you should use these after cleansing and before the rest of your routine.
If you’d like to wait 10 to 20 minutes after application, you certainly can, but I’ve found that wait times between steps are usually not necessary. I typically just swipe a pad over my face, wait for it to dry down, and then move on.
First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads full ingredients:
Water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, glycerin, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, lactic acid, glycolic acid, leuconostoc (radish) root ferment filtrate, chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) extract, sodium hydroxide, polysorbate 20, camellia sinensis leaf (green tea) extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, citrus nobilis (mandarin orange) fruit extract, citrus limon (lemon) peel extract, hyaluronic acid, phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry), EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin
These pads have a good mix of exfoliating, moisturizing, and brightening ingredients.
The lactic and glycolic acids are responsible for exfoliation. I emailed First Aid Beauty directly to ask about the acid percentage, and they said that both acids together are present in less than 4% strength, so these are very mild.
I also pH tested them, and they fall in the 3.5 to 4 range, which is low enough to exfoliate. (If you’re interested in reading more about why the pH of acids matters, this post by Michelle of Lab Muffin fame explains it very well.)
Other noteworthy ingredients include fermented radish root, feverfew, licorice and citrus extracts for brightening, and glycerin and hyaluronic acid for moisturizing.
Possible Red Flags
According to CosDNA, there aren’t any ingredients that are super likely to irritate your skin (other than potentially the acids, but you already knew that!).
Just be sure that you aren’t sensitive or allergic to anything on the list before you start using them!
How They Perform
I’ll be perfectly honest right up front: These are not quite strong enough for my liking, so they won’t be a staple in my routine.
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But! I do still have plenty of good things to say about them, and I definitely think that they’re a great introduction to chemical exfoliation.
First off, I really like how convenient the pad application is. The pads are smooth on one side and textured on the other for that little bit of extra scrubby action, and they’re very saturated with product. I can use one pad for my face, neck and chest.
I also like that they don’t have that weird (and honestly kind of gross) smell that some stronger AHA serums have. They don’t have much of a smell at all in my opinion, which is good for people who are sensitive to fragrance.
I’ve been using these First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads daily for about three or so weeks, and while I have noticed that my skin feels softer, I haven’t really gotten the same level of pore-clearing and brightening that I typically get with stronger AHA products.
My skin is extremely prone to breakouts and clogged pores, so I wasn’t expecting miracles. I usually have to break out some pretty nuclear-level acids to get clear skin. I was hoping that these could be a convenient, maintenance-type product for me to use between stronger peels, but they just don’t have quite enough oomph for my oily skin.
If your skin is normal or dry, these pads would probably work very well as an everyday maintenance product.
That being said, if your skin is normal or dry, these pads would probably work very well as an everyday maintenance product. They’re super gentle, and the low acid content combined with the other supporting ingredients means that there’s a very low risk of overexfoliation.
Overall, these pads don’t quite do the job for me. I’ll admit that I’m a little disappointed by that because I tend to really love First Aid Beauty products in general. (For example, their Arnica Relief & Rescue mask is absolutely amazing.)
I do think it’s important to stress that my experience shouldn’t turn you off of trying them for yourself! If you don’t have to dunk your face into a vat of face-melting acid to get clear skin (like I do), then these pads might be the perfect addition to your routine, especially since we’re getting into the cold and dry seasons when your skin will be more sensitive to exfoliation.
With 4% AHA strength and plenty of brightening, soothing, and moisturizing ingredients in the formula, I feel like the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads are the perfect way to ease some extra exfoliation into your nighttime beauty routine.