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If You Have ‘Normal’ Skin, I May Have Found You a Better Resurfacing Treatment Than Sunday Riley’s

Photo: Courtesy Retailer

A few years ago, I worked on the corporate side of a luxury department store with a killer discount — which I used to its full advantage, namely by trying every skin-care brand I could, particularly the ones with products that promised a “resurfacing” effect. One such product — Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, a culty lactic-acid treatment — made its way into my discounted shopping cart more than once.

At first, I felt I had to try it based on the ridiculous number of colleagues and friends who had praised Good Genes for the glow it gives to skin by exfoliating the surface to improve texture, boost circulation, increase smoothness, and generally make you look better-rested and younger than you are. Unfortunately (for me), I did not experience any of these results after going through my first bottle, so I bought one more, hoping the second time would be the charm.

As the name suggests, NOTO’s resurfacing treatment isn’t a serum like Good Genes but a scrub. The application process is different too. The Sunday Riley product doubles as a mask that you spread over your face and leave there for about 15 minutes (it goes on light and easy and evenly, and it gave me a very slight stinging feeling before rinsing), but with the NOTO, you just briefly massage the finely granulated goop onto wet skin, then wash it off. It smells like peppermint oil, and I (truly) instantly noticed a difference in my skin’s texture after my first use — it gave me what I like to call a “touch my cheek” moment.

NOTO Resurface Scrub

Before I go any further, I should note I have what you would call a “normal” complexion — not too dry, not too oily, not overly sensitive. Maybe that’s why I have not experienced any adverse reaction to the main ingredient in NOTO, walnut-shell powder, which some dermatologists and aestheticians say can be too abrasive for the face. When I asked one such expert about this — Samantha Mims, a skin therapist at Dermasaa — she explained that “the side effects of walnut-shell powder can lead to inflammation and microscopic scrapes” and said it’s preferable to use body-care products with walnut-shell powder, since body skin is “less delicate and can tolerate a deeper polish.”

A “touch my cheek” moment. Photo: Robin Reetz

But apparently my face (along with those of many of my friends who are obsessed with NOTO) can tolerate it just as well as my body. I continue to be amazed at how baby-like my skin feels with twice-weekly use of the stuff, which gets it smoother than did the Clarisonic, the $65 Tatcha Rice Polish, the $80 Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, and even the $125 exfoliator from La Mer I have used.

Of course, “every product is formulated differently,” as Mims notes. Even though the NOTO gives me baby-soft skin, it lacks key ingredients that are in Good Genes, including a high-potency form of lactic acid that might have a separate set of anti-aging benefits (technically, I’m not comparing apples to apples here). And when you’re experimenting with a sea of options that all, at the very least, seem to vaguely offer similar effects — in this case, polished, reinvigorated, “resurfaced” skin — a lot of the time, finding the one comes down to trial and error. That said, I believe I’ve found my one in NOTO, which also comes in appealing, gender-neutral packaging. Even more appealing is its $31 price, which means I will continue to buy it — even without a discount.

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I Resurface My Skin With This Sunday Riley Dupe