So, here's the thing about this product - it definitely does something and if you give your skin time to get used to the strength of the product, it really will change the texture and clarity of your skin. I have combination skin and though I am in my early 20s, I still have blemishes and issues with skin texture. I even spent $750 on microdermabrasion last year and found that though the short-term benefits were quite noticeable (particularly in terms of skin texture), in the long term I found it to be a complete waste of money and time, not to mention the fact that the procedure can be quite uncomfortable when you get to the extractions, particularly if you have congested skin like me.
I am no stranger to products with strong AHAs and I am almost certain this is why I have had so much success with this cleanser. On the Australian Neostrata website, it describes the product as being "For experienced AHA users only." If you have been using gentle cleansers your entire life, of course your skin is going to react adversely to a product that is much stronger than what you are used to, but, as I have found in the past, persistence is key and if you can get past the initial discomfort (and possibly somewhat unattractive discomfort - redness, pimples and all that weird stuff your skin does when it's adjusting to something new), you will find this cleanser works miracles.
I have been using this product for about 2 months now and I have much brighter skin, my skin texture is even better than it was when I was doing micro, though my blemishes are not completely gone - they are certainly fading. I feel like this product is really all about the way your skin feels, my skin is so soft, the drier parts of my skin feel nourished and my makeup always looks amazing. All in all this product is wonderful.
I know a lot of people are put off by the alcohol content in this wash, don't quote me on this but I'm almost certain most cleansers contain alcohol because, quite simply, alcohol kills germs and isn't that what we all want in a cleanser? My only proof that the alcohol will not damage your skin is that my beautiful mum has been using Neostrata for 20 years, she's 58 and has incredible skin. Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (collective "aww"), but objectively, her skin texture is nigh on perfect, she has very few fine lines or wrinkles, very small pores and she just has very glowy skin in general, in fact I think her skin nabs her more compliments than anything else.
I would also like to add, my mum told me before I started the micro treatments to try Neostrata because in her own experience it had the same effect. I spent a small fortune not only on the treatments themselves but on the products my beauty therapist suggested I buy to supplement the treatment (after reviewing the ingredients, the cleanser also had a high alcohol and AHA content) and, of course, my mum was right. This product is a much more cost effective alternative to micro.
The reason why I'm leaving such a long winded, glowing review of this product is because had I not known a long time Neostrata devotee, I can't imagine I would've tried this product. I can recall my first experiences with AHAs and they weren't pleasant, but I was told to persist until my skin acclimatised and have always found that my skin improves with continual use of most products with AHAs but never so drastically as it has with this wash. More recently I convinced my best friend to try it and it's having the same effect on her skin as it did mine - rapid improvement of texture, brightness and pore size and a slower but very noticeable improvement to blemishes. The great thing about this product is that it smooths out blemishes really quickly and although you'll find the mark itself takes a little while to disappear, your makeup will cover any spots really well with no bumps.
Anyway, give it a go - or don't, but gosh if you don't you just wasted half your life reading this review for absolutely nothing.