As the creator of "skin cycling," a less-is-more method of skin-care application that drives results while minimizing irritation, Whitney Bowe, MD, is all about making sure your products aren't doing harm. "When my patients would ask me for recommendations for an exfoliating product, I found myself torn between products that were effective but were irritating and products that were very gentle, but didn't really deliver results," says Dr. Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist and research scientist in New York City. So she formulated her own exfoliating serum—DWB Beauty Exfoliation Night ($79). It's potent, yet gentle.
- Whitney Bowe, MD, board-certified dermatologist based in New York
"I wanted to create a product that has these clinically measurable, visible improvements in the skin that people want from these powerful acids, but something that's not going to damage the skin barrier," says Dr. Bowe. "Something that's not going to lead to hyperpigmentation, something that's not going to be damaging to somebody who has sensitive skin, dry skin, mature skin. That is what we accomplished with Exfoliation Night."
This powerful serum is made with a blend of three acids. "I included the ABPs of exfoliating acids in the product—alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and poly-hydroxy acids (PHAs)," says Dr. Bowe.
The AHA is an 8 percent glycolic acid. "That's the concentration that actually stimulates collagen synthesis," she says. The BHA is salicylic acid, which has a similar chemical structure to Asprin, one of the most potent anti-inflammatory drugs out there. "Salicylic acid, if you're using it the right way, it can actually be really calming and soothing and help with redness," says Dr. Bowe. Finally, the PHAs are lactobionic and gluconolactone. These are larger molecules that work on the skin's surface to exfoliate while also preserving collagen and adding hydration. "They're water magnets. So they actually plump up and hydrate the skin while they exfoliate," says Dr. Bowe.
Altogether, this serum has a 12 percent concentration of acids. To balance the intensity of these ingredients, Dr. Bowe added in postbiotics. While the acids do their thing, the postbiotics work within the skin to dampen responses of irritation, like redness and stinging.
"The stinging and burning itself is not necessary to get the benefits of the acids. It is actually a side effect of all those ingredients," says Dr. Bowe. "The postbiotics dial down inflammatory cytokines in the skin. So it's actually working on a cellular level to make the skin more receptive to these powerful acids."
In addition to making the serum more comfortable to use, this formulation makes the actives more effective. "A lot of the things that help with evening out the skin tone, if you overdo it, even the tiniest bit, you end up getting the irritation, which leads to worse post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and you end up with dark spots that are worse than the ones you started with," says Dr. Bowe.
When I put this serum on, I can feel it working—there's a mild sting, but it isn't painful. It's the perfect happy medium that gives you an assurance that the formula is doing its job without any discomfort.
To complement the serum, Dr. Bowe also launched Night Mode ($35), a relaxation capsule that helps you get your beauty sleep.
"The mind and skin are connected and when your sleep suffers or your mental wellness suffers, so does your skin," she says. "Studies show that even just one to two nights of poor sleep can actually show up as measurable changes in the skin. So it can show up as dull skin, loss of elasticity, increase dark circles underneath the eyes, increased markers of oxidative stress, more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone."
Night Mode is made with vitamin D3 (it provides 150% of the recommended daily allowance), L-theanine, and lemon balm. There's no melatonin or other sleep aids that can make you feel groggy and out of it—it simply promotes relaxation to help you get a better night's sleep.
"Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with stress, anxiety, and poor sleep. Vitamin D is involved in pathways that have to do with our circadian rhythm and our sleep-wake cycles. And vitamin D is also directly responsible for helping to support the skin barrier, skin hydration, and skin elasticity," she says. "L-theanine is an amino acid that's naturally found in mushrooms and tea leaves that has been proven to help with stress, and anxiety, helps you fall asleep faster, helps you stay asleep longer. And then lemon balm is a soothing botanical. It's got antioxidant properties and it helps support anxiety, sleep health helps with digestion as well."
Both Exfoliation Night and Night Mode are housed in glass containers. The cap of Night Mode and the serum insert for Exfoliation Night are made of 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. "You keep the outer glass packaging, keep the pump, and replace the inner cartridge when you run out," says Dr. Bowe. They're made of plastic-type #5, which isn't always recyclable at municipal centers, so be sure to check before you place it in your bin. If centers near you don't accept #5, you can recycle it through programs like TerraCycle which have drop-off bins at stores like Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, and Credo Beauty.
Together, these two products work to help your skin look its best when you get up in the morning. Grab this newness from Dr. Bowe's line to take your nighttime skin-care routine to the next level.
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