Deep Dive | Reveal: A Natural Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

This post is the first in a “behind-the-scenes” series on what goes into making skin care products at Ayr. We’ll touch on the reasons why these products were created and what problems they address. We’ll also talk about the art of product formulation, as well as some of the ingredients that we use for each product and why.

Ayr Skin Care is a small artesian company, so we put a great deal of thought into each product’s development, and we formulate them in small batches. Read on to learn more about this process with our first product: Reveal Exfoliating Foam Facial Wash with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, a natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin!

The Problem: Existing Products Are Too Harsh

When developing a new product, we always ask “What problem will this solve?” Reveal is a lovely foam wash designed to solve the problem of how to exfoliate sensitive skin.

Over the years I had tried many products with various physical exfoliators, like seeds, and they left my skin red-raw with their harsh texture. When I turned to products with harsh chemicals like salicylic acid I was met with the same problem. And since I am also allergic to gluten, and cannot use oats or other grains safely, I was unable to find anything to meet my needs.

The Answer: A Natural Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

So, I figured, why not solve my own problem and develop an exfoliating cleanser for people like me? Something soft on the skin, that cuddles it like a blanket and then gently removes the dead skin without irritation. Reveal exfoliating foam was my answer!

Creating a Gentle Cleansing Exfoliator

The first step was actually cleansing, because first and foremost this had to be a cleanser. We chose to use coconut-based cleansing ingredients since they’re natural, effective, and easy on delicate skin all at once.

The next step was figuring out how to exfoliate sensitive skin gently, yet effectively. The benefit of exfoliation in a skin care routine is critical in helping make the skin bright and shining through the removal of dull, dead skin. Removal of the dead skin cells allows the new cells to benefit from the expensive skin care serums and creams that we use. There’s no point in spending time and money applying facial creams if they are merely smeared on top of dead skin cells!

Getting Just the Right Balance of Fruit Acids

The secret to making skin care products good is getting the little details right. Much time was spent combining just the right amounts of fruit acids in order to make the best and most natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin. We used malic acid from apples and lactic acid from beets and sugar (not from dairy, as the name might suggest). Lactic acid is one of the acids associated with fermented foods, and is very good for the skin.

We also included glycolic acid from sugar cane, which has a very small molecule and penetrates the skin easily, as well as citric acid from citrus fruits. Lemon and tangerine are two of the citric acids that we use. In addition to gently lifting dead skin cells, these fruit acids are also used in skin care for treating fine lines and helping clear pores in order to keep blackheads and acne at bay.

Finally we used one of my favorites, tartaric acid, which comes from grapes. There is much to celebrate in the benefits of grape juice in skin care. It contains the acids we want when we look at how to exfoliate sensitive skin, but it also contains resveratrol. Resveratrol occurs naturally in the skin of red grapes and is a compound called a polyphenol, which acts like a powerful antioxidant.

What Else Could We Incorporate?

We had already picked great cleansing ingredients that were gentle, and fruit acids that would exfoliate but not overstimulate the skin. What else could we put into this cleanser to make it the best natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin?

Calming Tones

Since sensitive skin was one of the key design factors, we wanted ingredients that would calm, and not irritate even the most delicate skin. We were looking for a product that would not have an astringent or “tight” after-feel, but rather a feeling of hydration and moisture. To bring this feeling to the product, we did not use anything drying like witch hazel, (and we never use alcohol), but instead used honeysuckle extract which has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Along with this we used chamomile and calendula to soothe the skin, and sweet almond extract which is used around the world with scarred or damaged skin.

Goji Berry

The last antioxidant we added was goji berry extract. The goji berry (or wolfberry) is a powerful antioxidant, but there have also been studies showing that it may stimulate collagen production in skin.

What a Wonderful Smell!

A pleasant consequence of our formulation is that all of these fruit extracts and fruit acids bring a light, fruity scent to the Reveal cleanser, without the addition of any other ingredients. Ayr Skin Care does not use synthetic fragrances, but in this case we didn’t even have to add essential oils! The lovely smell of grapes, citrus, and goji berries makes it smell fresh and fruity!

By using all of these wonderful ingredients, in just the right amount, we were able to produce a really exciting natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin—something a consumer can use this effective, yet gentle alpha hydroxy fruit acid wash a couple of times a week to brighten and refresh the skin. What would we call something that eliminated dead cells, and completely revealed the new, brighter skin underneath? Reveal!

What Happens After Formulation?

One question that I’m frequently asked about making skin care products is: What happens after the formula has been established? Well, in Ayr’s case, after I have formulated a product, and I use it and see the results for myself, I give it over to a large group of people I affectionately call “the guinea pigs.” This is meant fondly, and with no disrespect!

This group of people tests all of our products over a period of time, giving valuable feedback as to how they like the texture, viscosity, smell, and overall results. For instance, with Reveal I tell them I wanted a natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin. They try it out and tell me if I’ve done it right. Once it has gone back and forth between our lab and the guinea pigs for testing, feedback, reformulation, and more testing, it is finally complete and ready for external testing!

Any product which contains water (or ingredients containing water) must contain preservatives to effectively prevent the growth of any bacteria or mold. We choose to be extra careful, and send our products out to not one but two outside microbiology labs for testing and stability. Microbiology challenge testing is a process where microbes are purposefully injected into the batch of product, and then the product is watched over time to see if the preservatives are effectively killing off the microbes. Over the course of several months our products are subjected to injections of things like staph infection and then monitored.

If a formula fails the preservation challenge, then we would have to go back to our lab and improve our preservation system. When we get the “All go!” from the outside labs, then we can design, screen print, and begin filling our containers.

To Your Face with Love

So...that’s the story of how Reveal Exfoliating Foam Wash with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, our very own natural facial cleanser for sensitive skin, came to be born. Making skin care products is our passion, and the question of how to exfoliate sensitive skin was an especially interesting problem to solve. Thanks for reading and we hope this has been of interest to you!

Bye for now!

Kirsten, xx

If you have any questions or comments, we would be happy to answer you personally! Please contact us at