SKIN | The lazy way to chemically exfoliate

AHA and BHA pads

As if I didn’t have enough chemically exfoliating products already, I bought some more in pad form – to support my laziness, of course. The Stridex pads are from iHerb via the Skincare Addiction sub-reddit, whose members seem to fall over themselves to promote these as a BHA holy grail. ‘Holy grail’ is a funny way to describe a product, really. The only way I could use these as a grail would be if I took the pads out and drank from the tub.


Silliness aside, these pads are the business. They’ve got 2% salicylic acid at the right pH and are alcohol free (good things), but they’ve also got menthol (a bad thing). Most people’s skin could go either way with the menthol, and I haven’t found it has irritated my skin yet, but I’m gonna be careful with it. I’m continuing to use these pads because there’s no question of whether or not they work: after use it feels like someone’s hosed my face down with a pressure-washer. One night I used them without moisturising afterwards (the moisturiser neutralises the acid and therefore puts a stop to its continuous exfoliating) and the next day I could run my fingers down my face and feel dead skin peeling off. Gruesome and terrifying, or effective? I’m feeling the latter. Pick these up from iHerb and use my coupon code for $10 off your first order over $40, if you’re feeling generous – it’s BZV659.

first aid beauty pads

The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance pads are a bit more relaxed and Paula’s jury’s out over whether they’re effective as chemical exfoliants, but Paula hasn’t met my skin, and my skin likes these pads. They smell nice and they’re handy to have by the bed for a bit of combined AHA/BHA action before sleep. I’m pretty sure you used to be able to get First Aid Beauty from Farmers here in New Zealand but not anymore, so I threw these in with my most recent Sephora order.

If you’re curious about what else arrived from iHerb last week, here’s some of the other stuff!

iherb haul

I ordered some clay powder so I can get to work experimenting with making my own clay masks (much cheaper than all the options I reviewed the other week). Another Bdellium Tools 776 brush because it is my best friend for blending (I’ve got a post on this in the works, comparing it to the MAC 217, the holy grail of beauty tools), some Ecotools brushes that I DEFINITELY wasn’t expecting to be so small, and a Konjac sponge because I’m curious about everything to do with skincare and these seem to be The Thing of the moment.

Now, back to my chemical exfoliants. Judging by my stash of AHAs and BHA products, my end goal looks like having my skin peeling off in shreds…

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  • Lena

    I liked Stridex pads but I got Paula’s Choice BHA which I think I like more, and I gave the rest of the pads to my brother, and they seem to be helping with ingrown hairs he gets from shaving. I’ve never tried the FAB ones, I recall seeing them in Farmers but they didn’t entice me.

    • Ooh I forgot I can use them for ingrown hairs… I am covered in them :”(

  • I found that Stridex didn’t work that well for me… It was okay but, not great. I wondered if a better formulated product (like the PC BHA) would be better for me, but I ended up going back to Differin in lieu of using BHAs/AHAs. It’s also cheaper too because it’s fully funded 🙂

  • zoe

    PERFECT POST TIMING. I’m about to buy either the first aid beauty ones or the strides ones (but yep, wary of the paulas choice review about whether or not it’s at the right PH) otherwise I came across these on etsy but I’m waiting to hear back if there are other ingredients.

    • Wow, some of the things that Etsy store is selling look scary… tattoo removal solution?! Is it even legal to sell that kinda thing?

      • zoe

        No idea but ‘Murrica

  • I’ve seen r/skincareaddiction raving about Stridex too, and have been thinking about trying them. It’s nice to see you review them (and include the link to the iherb), makes me even more interested.
    Annnd they are now on my wishlist.

    • Let me know how you find them if you do end up buying them! They’re super affordable from iHerb so it’s not too much of a waste if you do buy them and don’t like them.

  • Shannon

    Just got Stridex in my iherb order after seeing your reviews. Fingers crossed it works wonders for me too!