Product Review: Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Purifying Cleansing Gel

The Bioderma scrub with a peeking succulent

After many weeks of what felt like adulting but was about 60% lockdown procrastination (its a special weird kind of procrastination involving sour dough starters), I have finally gotten to this review,. Welcome. I will be looking at Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Purifying Cleansing Gel. First up let’s look at the brand, since I’ve never reviewed them before.

Bioderma – the brand

Bioderma is a brand made by Naos. Their whole ethos is respecting the skin and its natural mechanisms. It focuses on supporting the skin in a way that encourages it to heal and manage itself. It has the term “ecobiology” all over the website. There are 3 brands under this French company, all with ecobiology as the core value.

Ecobiology at the service of dermatology

Bioderma slogan

One thing that did strike me was that even though there was plenty of statements about their commitment to reduce their environmental impact, I couldn’t find anything on their website about animal testing. I ended up checking on Ethical Elephant which had a post from 2019. Similarly to LÓreal and all those large French brands, they do not test on animals directly. However, they do sell to China which means that they have consented to Chinese regulations which include mandatory animal testing.

Clever marketing has allowed Bioderma to add a few colour coded product lines to their brand. The one I am looking at is the green Sebium line of products, aimed at oily/combination/acne-prone skin.

The Ingredient List

Ingredients: water (aqua), cellulose acetate (beads), sodium laureth sulphate, xanthan gum, lauryl glucoside, glycolic acid, sodium citrate, sodium hydroxide, salicylic acid, mannitol, xylitol, rhamnose, fructooligosaccharides, propylene glycol, ginko biloba leaf extract, fragrance (parfum)

Formula and actives

Looking at the ingredient list, this is a combination cleanser using both physical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants. There is an alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, as well as a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid. I have written posts about both so you can click the links to remind yourself what they do and how magical they are. The combination allows both the texture of the skin to be smoothed and pores to be exfoliated.

The pH is lowish (5ish) as expected with the multiple hydroxy acids present. I need to update my pH strips, these one are not very accurate. Read here to find out why pH is important.


The little beads of cellulose add to the exfoliating action of this cleanser, especially for blackheads and blocked pores. But, you may ask: “Are these beads not bad for the environment? They feel like tiny pieces of plastic and I don’t want to contribute to the world’s single use plastic problem if I can help it.”

These beads are considered biopolymers. This doesn’t mean they are automatically better because biopolymers don’t always mean biodegradable. They are made from wood pulp which is modified with acetic acid (the acid found in vinegar FYI). From a raw materials perspective, it is more sustainable than polyethylene (PE) beads. In terms of the end product impact, its biodegradability, it is considered biodegradable. What criteria need to be met for something to be considered biodegradable though? How long it takes to degrade? In what environment – sea, wind, soil? This is another topic I want to explore in a separate post which I will link back. For now, lets say its a better option than PE beads. Cellulose acetate beads are a good substitute because they have the same feel and effectiveness as PE, as well as being super stable within cosmetic formulations, unlike unmodified cellulose beads. I will update the physical exfoliation post to match this new info :).

My experience using Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Purifying Cleansing Gel

Look and feel

At first glance I liked the look of the packaging. Maybe I’m just spoilt, but I get a little lazy in reading and the French being first on the label makes it difficult to pick out what the 1.) function of the product is and 2.) what the expected results are. Then again, I’m probably just lazy. The flip lid also broke within the first month of use but that didn’t change the ease of using it.

The liquid is a relatively thin clear gel but the microbead density is high so its almost opaque with a gritty texture. At first I thought this was too much but the more I used it the more I realised that it was really satisfying to feel the beads working their magic. Now when I use other scrubs, I wonder if the low concentration of beads are even doing anything. My skin goes red really easily but this didn’t seem to aggravate it too much. I also am super gentle, I ideally use it the shower and leave it one while I wash my bowdey. Remember to clean the lid before putting it away because the dried gritty gel is not pleasant for your next use.

Scent wise, its pretty mild but has a fresh undertone. Not overly fragranced so those with adverse reactions or preference can rest easy.


I use this scrub every second or third night. The aftereffects are immediate, my skin texture is amazing and I have to remember not to touch my face too much. The level of smoothness and brightness is not quite as much as what the concentrated The Ordinary Peel solution yields, but pretty darn close. I like this product specifically for my pores on my nose, which are pretty dilated and visible (thanks genetics!). It really does seem to keep clogging at bay between other concentrated exfoliation and masks. My skin seems to tolerate exfoliation though so this may not be the case for everyone. Less is more until you’ve figured out what your skin can handle – over-exfoliation is a thing.

Price and availability

Price wise, Dischem wins with R150 (actually on special right now for R101.50 – 9th May 2020) over Clicks who sells it for R193. I always find Clicks is the more expensive option because I think they hike up the price so they can do their 3-for-2 specials which are ALWAYS on… Ja, I see you! It lasts pretty long for me because I use it every second or third night so this price is really reasonable.

Overall I really like this product and it works. I am happy with it as my regular physical exfoliant for now. Does anyone have a favourite that they would like to share? Comment below or go to my Instagram or Facebook page to let me know.


  1. Cellulose acetate beads in skincare

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