When you become as addicted to a certain brand as I have with MAC, you automatically jump at the chance to try their new products, even if it’s not what they’re known for; MAC is obviously known for their makeup, not skincare (and especially not exfoliation products), but even so I literally could not wait to get my hands on their Volcanic Ash Exfoliator!
I don’t know what it is about exfoliators, but I’m pretty much obsessed with them, which I guess isn’t really a good thing because you’re only supposed to exfoliate like twice a week at most without accidentally rubbing your skin raw. Honestly, my addiction has gotten so much worse ever since I got a Clarisonic and my results are literally 49573498 times more effective.
Anyways, a few days before buying the VAE I had been browsing on MAC’s website looking for a highlighter, and somehow ended up on their skincare products. I looked through the list, casually glanced at the VAE (and immediately wanted it even though it wasn’t in my budget at that particular moment), but ultimately moved on to continue my search for what I was originally looking for. As luck would have it, I ran out of exfoliator (which at the time was a product by L’oreal) the very next day. The perfect storm was brewing. About a week later I was at the MAC counter getting ready to buy the highlighter I had been looking for, and decided on a whim to buy the VAE. I had buyer’s remorse for a few days afterwards, but that disappeared as soon as I used it!
I’m actually really glad I bought it when it become part of their permanent skincare line, because apparently when it was first released a few years back as a seasonal/limited edition product, it sold out within a week at my closest MAC store. Even though it was around $18 when I bought it, for a MAC skincare product this is a really good value as the tube is 3.4oz which is a lot more than their normal 1oz size.
As far as the product itself goes, if you’re used to non-scented or scented products that smell floral, sweet, or food-like, the smell of this exfoliator may throw you off a bit. It smells a bit like a Yankee candle, which is the only way I can describe it because it’s my first time smelling something like this. It’s not unpleasant, and it’s tolerable enough to put on your face for a while, but it’s not fantastic either. Personally I think that what determines your experience with the VAE revolves around whether you like the smell and the look (similar to black sesame paste); it’s the difference between associating the product with “luxury spa skin treatment” or “messy smelly black goo.”
My first usage of the VAE left me with the perception that it was quite harsh because the sugar granules are quite large, which turned out later to not be the case. You can get around this by making sure your face is very wet, and using less product. Personally I find a swipe of the product off the jar’s lid on my index fingertip is enough for my entire face. Now, with the sugar having melted faster, combined with the volcanic ash, the exfoliator as a complete product has minimized my normal sized pores and made my skin ridiculously smooth. Both I and those around me noticed a subtle glow coming from my skin after using this. It’s really hard to not touch my skin after I use this because it’s so smooth.
By the way, this isn’t supposed to replace your facial cleanser, so it would be a good idea to use this once, maybe twice a week maximum, use a normal face wash the rest of the time, and use a quality moisturizer after every treatment. Also the VAE isn’t a mask, so there’s no need to let it sit on your face like one unless your goal is to scare the crap out of those living with you (which is actually really funny). Wash it off with warm water afterwards and it’ll just melt right off and reveal soft, smooth skin.
I got this stuff at the beginning of February, and it lasted me till about the middle of May using it every third day. I’ve heard that some people use this every other day and some even use it every day, so it’s really up to you to find out how often works best for your skin.
My only gripes about this are the initial harshness of the sugar granules, and the somewhat inconvenient packaging when you get near the end of the tube. Other than those two things, this is a product worth buying if you don’t already have an HG exfoliator!