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Initial Impressions: 22ple Activate


Surface preparation is a vital part of your success when working with paint coatings.  It has been common practice to perform a cleansing wipe with a prep spray such as isopropyl alcohol, Gyeon Prep, CarPro Eraser, or other similar products prior to applying a paint coating to ensure that any residual polishing oils or waxes have been completely removed from the surface.  This is an integral step which ensures the coating will create the strongest bond to your painted surface, however there are some situations where this pre-coating wipe down feels like more trouble than it is worth.  Perhaps the most trying situation is when you find yourself working on soft paint that scratches if you breathe too hard on it.  After spending hours (or days!) perfecting this paint the last thing you want to do is have to wipe it all down again with a prep solution as marring the paint is almost inevitable.  Manufacturers have seen the struggle and have worked hard to create specialized polishing liquids that do not require any wipe down prior to coating.  These have been appropriately regarded as “primer polishes”.  22ple has come up with their own version of a primer polish and they call it 22ple Activate.

22ple Activate will allow you to prep your paint, leaving it ready for coating applications! When applying a coating, it is paramount that you clean the surface from imperfections, oils, etc. first. This preparation process allows your desired coating to adhere correctly, protecting the best looking paint possible, for the longest amount of time possible. With Activate, you can remove swirls, fill in imperfections, enhance gloss, leave behind protection and prime your paint for a coating application. You heard that right, you can polish and prep in one step, leaving the paint in great condition for any coating application! On top of the time savings, Activate will increase surface bonding and increase durability and chemical resistance of the coating. If you already have a coating layer applied, Activate can also be used as a maintenance product to help lightly repair. If you are looking to apply a coating, save valuable time while increasing durability with the 22ple Activate!

ZRM | 22ple Activate

22ple states that Activate may be applied by hand or by machine, but I was not able to find any information with regards to specific instructions or use.

I have extensive knowledge of CarPro’s Primer Polish, CarPro Essence, and have been experimenting with Gyeon Primer, so I assumed that I would use 22ple Activate in a similar manner.  I began by applying some product to the face of a clean Lake Country Foam Polishing Pad.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

I then distributed the product onto my working area by dabbing the pad onto the surface.  This vehicle had been corrected and coated about 4 years prior, and still looked quite nice.  The paint had light superficial defects (marring) from years of washing and drying, some water spots, and the occasional scratch, but it was in overall good condition.  I felt this would be an ideal situation to use Activate to attempt to repair the minor blemishes and prepare the surface for a new layer of protection.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

After quickly spreading the product at the lowest machine speed, I began my initial pass.  I was operating at speed 3 on my Rupes LHR21ES Mark II and was using light pressure.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

I continued working the product using moderate arm speed for a total of 3 overlapping passes (side to side, then up and down, then side to side).  As I worked the product the product changed from translucent to transparent.  This transition is something I have observed with many finishing and primer polishes as they are worked, so I had assumed everything was going smoothly at this point.  After finishing my third pass, I grabbed my microfiber towel and started to remove the remaining residue from the paint… or at least I tried to.  At this point I found the residue to be dried completely.  It required considerable force and effort to remove, so I decided to spray the panel down with a prep solvent which enabled me to remove the residual product more easily and inspect my results.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

I removed my tape, grabbed my inspection light, and took a look.  Unfortunately my results were not what I was hoping for.  The finish was left looking dull and hazy, a big step in the wrong direction.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

At this point a few things crossed my mind.  First, I thought perhaps I had used the product incorrectly so it would probably be a good idea to change my technique a bit to see if my results are any different.  I proceeded to repeat my test using less product than I had used for my initial section, but making the same number of passes with the same amount of pressure and the same machine speed.  My results were the same.  I then attempted to make fewer passes, but did not change my machine speed or downward pressure.  The results were the same.

Next, I wondered if perhaps this paint was just one of those finicky, delicate, detailer’s worst nightmare type of paints that would not finish down without a fight.  In order to verify, I decided to try Gyeon Primer in the same area, leaving part of the original Activate section untouched to compare the results.  I used Gyeon Primer in the same fashion, applying several drops of product to a pad, spreading it, making a few passes, then inspecting my results.  As you can see, Gyeon Primer did a considerably better job restoring the finish.

ZRM | 22ple Activate

Having confirmed the paint was not particularly difficult to work with, I was then left to assume that either I was using Activate incorrectly or that it simply was not a quality product.  I am quite familiar with the 22ple brand, and I expect good results from their products, so I set out to see if I could get some more direction on how to properly use the product in order to maximize my results.

Detailed Image reached out to 22ple with my concerns, and I was given the following plausible explanations for my poor experience:

  • Working with too little product
  • Working the product for too long
  • Working the product with too high-speed or too much pressure resulting in excessive heat being generated

22ple further explained that Activate should not be treated as an ordinary polish as it is truly unique.  It was reported that Activate does not actually contain any abrasive or polishing oil, and when applied by machine the user should only use a foam finishing pad at medium speed with little or no downward pressure.  They also mentioned that it should also work well when applied by hand, though no specific comments were made on how exactly to use the product by hand.

With this information in mind, I set out to do another test.  This time I opted for a griot’s garage perfecting pad which is a softer foam than that of the Lake Country Polishing pad I had previously used and I applied about the same amount of product as pictured above.  I spread the product onto the panel in the same fashion as before and then worked for just 2 overlapping passes at speed 2 on the Rupes LHR21ES Mark II.  I was using quicker arm speed and very light pressure.  I am happy to report that the residue was much easier to wipe off after this process, however I still did not notice any defect removal or filling of the light swirls that were on this panel.  Based on my short tests, it seems that if you were to use this product it would have to be on paint that had already been fully corrected and perfectly finished.

As you can tell, this product required a bit of coaching to use.  This is not uncommon with new products in a constantly evolving world, however I do feel it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide clear and concise instructions on how to best use their product to avoid consumer frustration and ultimately to set themselves up for success as well.  22ple was quick to respond when I had expressed some frustration with my initial testing, and I hope this article proves to be useful for consumers going forward.  I have been a major fan of CarPro Essence, which is also a primer polish, and find it to be an exceptionally good finishing polish that can remove compounding haze or light swirls with ease.  This means that after compounding, I perform my polishing step with Essence, then I am ready to coat without any additional work.  With activate, it seems I would need to compound, polish, and then use activate, which means more time and effort spent on a project.  Another big concern for me is the price.  At $85/bottle ($12.57/oz) it is more than 4 times the cost of CarPro Essence, which is priced at $2.95/oz.  To me the performance of Activate simply did not justify the drastically higher price.  At the end of the day, I am happy I was able to have learned some things about this product, but at this time I cannot say that I see a place for it in my workflow.

Zach McGovern
Attention To Detailing Peoria
Peoria, IL

6 comments on Initial Impressions: 22ple Activate

  1. Roger Baron says:

    Hi Zach. I appreciate your articles. I have a question on Essence primer polish? I like the GTechniq coatings because they hold up really well. Any experiences from you or people you know mixing Essences with other coatings as far as long term adhesion? I recently did this on a vehicle as an experiment. To early to know anything. I liked Essence as a final step but I really like Crystal Serum Light and Exo. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    • Hi Roger – I have performed several tests with Essence and other non Car-Pro coatings. To date I have not seen anything drastic to report. On a previous vehicle I had polished half of my hood with Essence and the other half with a normal polish, then coated the entire thing with Crystal Serum Light. There was no notable difference between the two sides over the course of the 9 months or so that I was testing it. Whenever I use Essence I do prefer to do a light wipe down with a solvent like Eraser beforehand just to be safe, unless the paint I am working on is so delicate that it does not allow for it.

      • Roger Baron says:

        I really appreciate the feedback. I let the vehicle sit over night after polishing and I also did an IPA wipe down just to be safe. I plan on using Essence on a few more vehicles and feel more confident now that there’s no problem mixing it with other coating brands.

  2. rlmccarty2000 says:

    Wow. Looks like Activate will not make my list of products to try. I’ve been an Essence fan since it’s release. I like to use it with CarPros Gloss Pad prior to applying any coating. Thanks for the great review.

    • I too love Essence, which is why the bar for a primer polish is so high in my mind, and based on my tests 22ple Activate just didn’t hold up to other options out there like Essence and Primer. Thanks for reading!

  3. Viet Tran says:

    Used VXPro2 with and without Activate and I can attest that the part with Activate is much more water repellent than the non treated part. I applied with gauze and waited one to two minutes and wiped off with short nape MF, then a new MF to buff of residue. Very easy to use and results are worth the time.

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