MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
Finally Permanent: MAC Volcanic Ash
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($28.00 for 3.4 fl. oz.) is supposed to be a “foaming, cleansing, and exfoliating scrub” that combines volcanic ash with sugar crystals that is supposed to “leave skin feeling soft and comfortable clean.” I’ve been using this exfoliator on and off since it originally debuted in 2008. Why any brand rolls out limited edition skincare (or other basics, like eyeliners) is beyond my comprehension, but MAC has continued to re-release this exfoliator since 2008 in limited edition quantities. However, it is now part of the permanent skin care range!
It’s a great sugar-based exfoliator that spreads evenly, easily, and foams and lathers up as you massage the granules against the skin. It definitely leaves skin feeling softer and smoother in a few minutes. I prefer using this in the shower–still, even after all these years!–because it also has black ash that creates a gray lather, so it’s easier to make sure it all washes off and doesn’t stay on the counter in the shower. I haven’t used it in awhile, but I used it last night, and it is really a nice exfoliator. It’s simple, effective, and is fun to use.
I was looking back on my previous reviews, though, and I was surprised to see the price of this change $8.50 over the past three years ($9.00 over the past four years, plus after it re-released the first time and they put it in a new tube and did some reformulation, quantity went down by about 25%). It’s more observation than anything else, as I so rarely repurchase skincare that I’m not certain how much other brands increase skincare prices year-to-year. MAC says it can be used on both face and body, but at this price point, it’ll just be a facial exfoliator for me!
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator Review
MAC Style Black included two pieces of limited edition skincare — the ever-raved about Volcanic Ash Exfoliator and previously-mentioned-but-finally-released Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask.
I’ve been a big supporter of MAC’s Volcanic Ash Exfoliator since it released. I loved it. I sparingly used it so it would last as long as I could manage. I managed to make two tubs last me a year or so (it was launched in 2008). I couldn’t even begin to tell you how excited I was for it to be re-released with Style Black!
The re-released Volcanic Ash Exfoliator is slightly different than the original in a few key ways, though the product still feels, smells, and does the same (for me!) as the original version did. This release of Volcanic Ash Exfoliator uses both sugar (sucrose, specifically) and silica for exfoliating, whereas the original release only used sugar. Before, when you scrubbed your face with the exfoliator, the sugar particles would eventually dissolve, but with the addition of silica, you’ll notice a slightly gritty texture the whole time.
From what I can tell, MAC was attempting to address some of the problems/concerns the product created when it was originally launched. The tub packaging was both unsanitary and was not shower-friendly (which is the most convenient place to use this, because it can be messy). The tub seemed to get a lot of water in it when I had it in my shower, which kind of resulted in the sugar dissolving faster than I’d like–and the heat of the shower also caused some of the sugar to dissolve, I’d imagine. Since silica doesn’t dissolve, it also makes it a more shower-friendly ingredient when it comes to exfoliation! The new tube packaging now makes it more hygienic and shower-friendly, as well.
Considering I ended up having half a tub of exfoliator without any exofliating properties because all the sugar dissolved, I’m happy it’s in a tube! I also think that while it feels thicker, it’s also hard to judge, because before you were scooping it out of a jar so the two processes are different enough. I also don’t have any of the old stuff left to compare. It does, though, feel a little thicker.
In the end, it applies and feels like the original. I’d say it’s a little grittier than it previously was, with the addition of silica, but it still doesn’t feel like a harsh, aggressive exfoliator. It’s fairly gentle, and it should be used once or twice during the week, depending on how your skin takes to exfoliants.
Product value on this could be better, because they took out about an ounce of product and tacked on an additional fifty cents. I can handle the slight price increase, but I’m less than impressed with the decrease in the product itself (particularly since it’s 3.4 oz.), since it represents about 20-25% decrease in how much you get for your money.
Bottom line: It’s a mild exfoliator that has an earthy, ashy smell that’s not unpleasant (at least not to me), nor is it like ohhh, yummy! , it’s just kind of the scent I’d expect from it. It leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and may even give you a lil’ bit of that glow. I still love it, but I’m not quite as in-love as I was originally (I think that’s more because of all the other exfoliators that I also love). I definitely still recommend trying it out–ask for a sample if you’re unsure–because it is a fantastic exfoliator!
- Product: 28/30
- Value: 8/10
- Ease of Use: 4/5
- Packaging: 4/5
Recommendation: If you liked the original, I think you’ll still like this slightly reformulated version! It’s a good, mild exfoliator!
Availability: MAC Cosmetics
The best in beauty products that have truly stood the test of time. Tried and true, these still rock.
MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($19.00) was a product that was nearly HG (holy grail) status. Of course, it was limited edition. Of course, I did not think to stock up at the time. Actually, if my memory is at all reliable, I intended to stock up only to discover they were sold out everywhere. Re-reading my original review actually says as much! Love, love, LOVE this stuff. I am desperately hoping the rumors are true, and we will see the return of my beloved VAE this fall/winter. C’mon MAC!
NARS Hydrating Moisture Cream ($72.00 for 3.4 oz.) is still a go-to moisturizer for me. I tend to use at night, because it is quite hydrating and often is a bit more moisture than I need in the AM. (Plus, it doesn’t have SPF, so I tend to opt for a moisturizer with built-in SPF — this is not really a make-or-break point for me, though.) I often alternate this with NARS Aqua-Gel Hydrator (which I love equally as much as this one — so all the things I said about the Moisture Cream, I say about the Aqua-Gel!). If you didn’t know, Shiseido owns NARS, and Shiseido is known for their skincare. In order to build up a reputation and grab market share in Asia, your brand must excel at skincare — that’s just where the focus is. I feel like NARS’ skincare products are often overlooked, but they are excellent and definitely worth trying. Available at Nordstrom and Sephora.com.
See three more fabulous products! Continue reading →