Monday, September 28, 2009

Purchase - MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Redux

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OK. I will totally not take offense if you skip this post. It's going to be long and full of chemical names & explanations and honestly a bit of obsessive compulsive focus on the order of ingredients. I'm just letting you know so you can switch over to another blog..or book mark this story for when you need help falling asleep.

So why even create a post that has the potential to numb the minds of readers? Because I am passionate! I may not be passionate about politics or world history or anything else but I AM passionate about a product that makes my skin beautiful. (Partly because I rarely find products that work for my skin and partly because I'm incredibly self centered and vain!)

When I heard news about MAC re-releasing the Volcanic Ash Exfoliator (VAE) I was overjoyed! I fell in love with this black gooey scrub last year. You can read about my pleading to MAC via haiku about VAE here. With baited breath I waited for September 24th to arrive. I circled it on my calender, I checked the MAC website every day the week of the release...hoping it would show up on line earlier than the official release date (it did).
I quickly ordered 2 tubes of the VAE as soon as I saw it on the web.

This is where the problems started. MAC did their exceptional quick delivery and accurate shipping. I have no complaints about that. No. The first problem was that the VAE is now sold in TUBE form rather than TUB form. The new VAE is almost a full ounce less than the old VAE and the new VAE costs 50 cents more than the old one. Bummer! Seriously. I understand that the economy sucks, but I can't imagine that the costs of the materials went up THAT much that MAC needed to cut the size and raise the cost. Bleh.

Speaking of the ingredients. The only NEW ingredients in the new VAE is an iron oxide (colorant) and the addition of SILICA. Yes. Silica. Sand. So the pure wonderful scrubbiness from the old VAE is not the same scrubbiness of the new VAE. Sugar was the original and only exfoliator in the Old VAE. Apparently people left their old VAEs in the shower and the heat and moisture melted the sugar in the old VAEs. In order to combat losing the actual exfoliation properties of the old VAE, MAC decided to add silica. This would still keep it "scrubby" even if the sugar melted due to heat/moisture/whatever. So that's a good thing right? Well. Not entirely.

It's great for a body scrub, but not so great for using on your face. The sugar crystals melt as you scrub, since you add water when scrubbing. But silica dosen't melt. I think that silica is just too harsh for the delicate skin on your face. That does not mean that you can't use the new VAE, you just need to use a lighter hand when scrubbing. Be careful not to over scrub or apply too much pressure when using the scrub on your face. If you scrub too hard you may actually create tiny microscopic cuts on your face in which bacteria can get into and can cause acne or other skin issues.

So with the addition of Silica to the ingredients, and the new tube to hold the product MAC had to change the formula so that the new VAE would be easily dispensed though the tube. Basically it is thicker than the old formula. This is NOT the exact same VAE.

However, all is not lost. When looking at the list of ingredients, and comparing the two I noticed 2 KEY ingredients that are in the same order and that means the same percentage is in the new formula compared to the old formula. The 2 key ingredients? Sucrose (sugar) and Volcanic Ash (awesomeness). So that's good.

Do you NEED this? Well. I'll begrudgingly say yes. But under protest. Only because there is no alternative. (You can't get the old version) The new version, while not exactly the same, is close enough.

Note that Sucrose and Volcanic Ash are in the same order in the old and new versions.

Ingredients explained:

Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate is a natural, food grade, emulsifiers derived from the sodium salt of lactic acid. It is a moisturizing foaming agent and emulsifier

Translation: It’s a foaming soap and makes the sugar granules and/or silica suspend rather than settle to the bottom of the product

DISODIUM COCO-GLUCOSIDE CITRATE: Disodium Coco-Glucoside Citrate is the disodium salt of the ester of citric acid andCoco-Glucoside (q.v.).DISODIUM COCO-GLUCOSIDE CITRATE has reported used in the following product types: shampoo ; body wash/cleanser ; facial cleanser ; bubble bath

Translation: It’s another foaming soap and non irritating to eyes & nasal membranes

Sulfosuccinate is an unusually mild surfactant which is suitable for the manufacture of quality cosmetic products including shampoos, bubble baths , cleaning lotions, liquid hand cleaner, dishwashing liquid and baby preparation. This products has outstanding foaming properties and is non – irritating to mucous membranes. The low level of eye irritation is an important characteristic of this material.

Translation: A wetting agent that allows two or more liquids to combine and create “slip”

Lauramidopropyl Betaine Origin: A synthetic compound obtained by the extensive chemical modification of lauric acid, a natural fatty acid.Function: Antistatic agent / Surfactant

Translation: A wetting agent that allows two or more liquids to combine and create “slip”

Methyl Gluceth-20: Glucose is a natural component of the stratum corneum layers of skin that binds water and hydrates skin. Glucose moisturizers, including Methyl gluceth-10 and -20, are water-soluble emollients (allow oil and water to mix), humectants (water retention) and moisturizers derived naturally from corn sugar and corn starch. Methyl Gluceth is considered a special moisturizing agent due to its moisture retentive qualities and ability to open pores and follicles. Its therapeutic uses include atopic eczema, clogged pores, skin dryness, roughness and itching, wrinkles. It is noted for its safety and mildness that imparts a smooth and silky feel on the skin. It is frequently used in creams and cosmetics along with other ingredients to improve skin hydration.

Translation: A chemical that allows water & oil to mix and moisturizes skin

PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate is a water and alcohol soluble emollient derived from coconut oil and glycerin. It is anionic and compatible with other ionics in formulation. It is used as an emulsifying agent and as a secondary surfactant with a moisturizing effect due to its refatting properties. It is ideally suited for use in haircare and bath products such as shampoos, liquid soaps, body washes, shower gels, and facial cleansers where its luxurious after feel combined with its solubilization and emulsification properties are best employed. As a solubilizer, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate is useful in coupling essential oils or fragrances into surfactant-based systems. Due to its dual solubility, it can be particularly useful in after-shave lotions, splashes or colognes that contain alcohol.

Translation: Rids your skin of the after rinsing film that make come from using soap products. But also can be used as a foaming soap

Ethylhexylglycerin servces as a surfactant and preservant enhancer and acts as a safe preservative in minute amounts. It’s a proven preservative-enhancer and is often used instead of controversial parabens. Ethylhexylglycerin is a synthetic compound derived from grains and plants and works by reducing interfacial tension on the cellular walls of micro-organisms, promoting their more rapid destruction and a wider spectrum activity

Translation: A preservative

Caprylyl Glycol, which is probably the most effective humectant* available today. It is naturally derived from coconut and has the unique property of protecting against microbial growth from bacteria and yeast while giving the finished product exceptional feel. caprylyl glycol. Skin-conditioning agent that may be plant-derived or synthetic. Often used as part of a preservative blend with phenoxyethanol and chloroxylenol, two preservatives that meet current global regulations.

Translation: A moisturizer

Hexylene Glycol is used as a solvent and viscosity decreasing agents in cosmetics and personal care products.

Translation: It makes a product less thick

Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate The most gentle detergents available to cleanse but also respect the skin & hair. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate is the sodium salt of the Cocoyl Glutamic Acid (q.v.). It conforms generally to the formula: where RCO- represents the fatty acids derived from coconut oil. SODIUM COCOYL GLUTAMATE has reported used in the following product types: facial cleanser; body wash/cleanser; shampoo; bubble bath

Translation: A cleanser

Phenoxethanol is the aromatic ether alcohol. Fragrance Ingredient; Preservative

Translation: A fragranced preservative

volcanic ash When applied to the skin’s surface, this soothing clay lifts, firms and exfoliates, resulting in a revitalized and more youthful-looking complexion. It also has the unique ability to draw out toxins and impurities that are embedded deep within the skin’s pores.Volcanic ash clay also known as sodium bentonite clay is formed when the ash, which results from a volcanic eruption, mixes with water. The result is clay, which contains an extensive concentration of a number of minerals. These minerals have been found to have a number of healthy benefits.
These minerals have been found to create a significant difference in the health and vitality of the skin when applied in the form of masks and masques. When applying this volcanic ash clay to the skin it helps to lift and firm the skin. It also can help to exfoliate the skin as well which lifts dead cells and can provide a radiant look to the skin. Sodium Bentonite clay or volcanic ash clay because of its mineral content can draw toxins out of the skin it can also help to draw out a number of impurities. These impurities and toxins are some of the things, which cause skin conditions like acne, and blemishes, which can lower self-esteem. Using a clay mask can help to pull out oils, and other substances, which leads to these types of blemishes. Clay treatments can also help to reduce the appearance of cellulite, sun damage, wrinkles and even stretch marks. The secret is the minerals, which make up the volcanic ash clay.

Translation: Awesomeness

image from
In memorial.
RIP original VAE


  1. OMG! This is the most awesome skincare post ever - your info about not using harsh scrubs on your face makes TOTAL sense. I've used scrubs before and gotten break outs and couldn't figure out why. I always thought maybe the scrubby particles were too small and got stuck in my pores.

    I will definitely use the exfoliator on my body only.

    Thanks for this AWESOME post!!!

  2. Well I am reading it because I am at work and this is still more exciting then work LOL Great post - I grabbed VAE but never having tried it last time I wouldn't have know there were differences. Thanks for the informed and detailed post as I was thinking of buying a back-up but now I am gonna wait to see if my face does anything weird before I do. Keep up the good workd Elvira :-)

  3. Wow! I'm sorry to hear about this... so many people grabbed up the VAE because they were expecting the same one as before!

    FANTASTIC post!!

  4. love your comparison of the ingredients list! win :)

    too bad it's not quite the same as the old one.

  5. You rule. I was upset about the smaller quantity in the tube until I started trying to finish up the last of my original VAE and SPILLED 1/2 the jar all over my bathtub floor mid-shower! ACK! I have yet to try the new version, which I stocked up on, like a lunatic...will report back!

  6. OK, hun, I'm buying this! I love the science bit!!

  7. Great post! I was planning on buying this on my way home today and now I'll have to actually check it out.
    I don't like the fact that they changed the ingredients, size and price, as slight as it might be, I'm still miffed! But I'm all for the tube and I'm a sucker for a scrub, so we'll see.
    Thanks so much for explaining all the ingredients, I always do that, but it sure helped not having to do the research myself.

  8. Wow, thanks for putting so much effort into the post. Great read!

  9. Jesus this was long LMAO *loves you so, so much* but I love how much research you put into this. MAC needs to re-release the ORIGINAL VAE!

  10. This is fantastic information, especially regarding the addition of silica. If you haven't already, I think the changes made to this product would make a great addition to your already well-written MUA review!

    Thanks for thinking so much about this so I don't have to! :)


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