When it comes to beauty, I learned most of my tricks from my mom who taught me the secret to bright, glowing Asian skin at an early age- masks! I started young with Origins Clear Improvement Mask when I was a teenager and haven’t looked back since. Masks are a tool that should be in everyones skincare regimen as a weekly or bi-weekly treatment to deep clean and replenish the skin. Skin that does not receive regular cleaning tends to age faster as the organ will not run effectively, so think of masks as that perfect detox to really shake out everything weighing down skin that you’ve accumulated: toxins, debris, grime, sweat, oils, etc. At the same time, a good mask can also infuse your skin with a dose of nutrients and provide anti-aging effects that will repair your skin. I’ve ventured out to explore mask offerings from a few of my favorite brands and here is how they stack up:
What it is: “A highly-effective, botanical based brightening exfoliator made without harsh chemicals”
Who it is for: Not the most sensitive skin as this is an enzyme peel, but suitable for dry and oily skin that feels a chemical peel without harsh abrasiveness
Info: Natural papaya enzymes are the primary ingredient in this mask that exfoliates and removes dull skin cells and toxins to help other treatments penetrate skin more effectively. You simply add water to the yellow powder that smells fragrant like all high-end Asian skincare products (SKII, Shiseido, Sulwahsoo, etc.). The powder forms into a gentle almost foamy fluid to massage over skin and leave for 10-15 minutes.
Results: This mask cleans well and washed off easily. Skin is left smooth and not irritated. I would like it to be more exfoliating or do a little more as this felt sort of like a cleanser rather than a peel. I feel like the overall experience was luxurious – the scent was overflowing and the powder melted with the water but I don’t really think this is a performance product. I think a really good mask should do more than feel like a leave on cleanser so I’m not that impressed by the performance of this mask.
What it is: “A ten minute mask that offers an immediate radiance boost and a new skin effect”
Who it is for: Not sensitive skin. A little stronger than Amorepacific with some essential oils and fragrances that might irritate.
Info: A light mousse cream mask that also works similarly to Amorepacific to exfoliate skin and renew skin in 10 minutes. Unlike Amorepacific, this ready-made cream does not need any special assembly, however its smaller size means you get less of it (I used up this one the fastest of the masks of this list). Scent, per usual Caudalie standards, is a perfect grape fragrance. Actives in here include Vinifrene which according to Caudalie is 62 times more potent than Vitamin C. This is extracted from the sap of grape vines and is said to lighten, brighten, and even complexion.
Results: Stronger than Amorepacific but did cause slight redness. I don’t think this is attributed to the strength of the exfoliants but rather questionable ingredients like silicones, fragrances, and unpronounceable chemicals. I think it is a good exfoliant but skin might be red/ irritated afterwards. I don’t think I will repurchase because it kind of sat on skin and coated it while also irritating it. Also, it is said to clear breakouts but from my experience it didn’t really make a difference. I didn’t really see the Vinifrene spring into action – considering that it is more potent than Vitamin C but 62 times, I really hoped to see the skin brightening effects after repeated use. Unfortunately I did not. I read some reviews that said this really works on acne scars and sun spots but I didn’t see any change.
What it is: “A potent bioactive complex that reduces fine lines and dramatically improves tone, firmness, and radiance.”
Who is it for: Congested and Mature skin – those with post-acne scarring, blemishes, blackheads, and sun-damaged skin.
Info: Reviewed in some detail here, I wasn’t sure how I initially felt about this orange sticky lumpy gel mask. The texture and scent definitely remind me of Orange jam. I’m not a big fan of the stickiness and I find it a little hard to rub through my skin. But once applied, it feels like a true chemical peel – more so than the aforementioned products, thanks to the 4 acid complex (lactic, glycolic, tartaric, and citric). Also uses papaya enzyme to exfoliate. Overall this feels like a more active mask than the previous two and at $55 for a tube, I think it is a better deal than the Caudalie which doesn’t give you a lot. Each pump dispenses just enough for one application though sometimes I did two pumps just to be sure there was enough.
Results: This really makes my skin feel sticky and weird when it is on but after I wash it off my skin seems to feel lighter and glowing. If you have not exfoliated or used this mask in a while, you might feel a tiny stinging sensation when you first apply – I felt that around my cheeks and smile lines the first few times. However, now it plays nicely with my skin and I no longer get that stinging sensation though I can still feel it kind of work. I’ve found that I use this as a quick pick me up mid week when my skin just feels congested and in need of an exfoliation. I would definitely consider repurchasing this mask because it is relatively powerful and travels nicely.
YULI Pure Mask ($52)
What it is: ” The creamy clay mask will purify skin while also delivering antioxidants, minerals, phyto-nutrients that restore optimal skin health leaving skin calm, glowing, and renewed.”
Who is it for: “Those with normal-combination skin types. Mature & Dry skin types will also benefit from using this non-stripping mask for the bioactive anti-aging nutrients, such as Antioxidant: EGCG , Polyphenols, & Resveratrol; wrinkle softening Vitamin E; and key skin food minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc.”
Info: Review in depth, here . This is really a triple phase product: powder – clay mask – milk cleanser. There are four types of clays which contain antioxidants and remineralize the skin as they remove the gunk inside pores, remove toxins, and refresh the complexion. This also uses botanical enzymes (though I’m not sure which) as a gentle and natural chemical exfoliation to get rid of dead skin cells and detoxify. The key though is how much other good stuff is in here such as the Biophotonic Matcha powder, traditional botanicals, etc. that all work to support skin, preventing and neutralizing breakouts (new breakouts die down within the night), while providing an anti aging boost. Beginners might take caution though with the powder as the consistency of the mask can change based on how much powder/water ratio you put in – so start slow like you’re mixing wasabi. Of all the masks, this lasted the longest due to the fact that it is so concentrated so you only need a little for it to be activated by water so the value is there.
Results: One of my favorite masks, compare the ingredients list – this is choke full of good stuff that effectively cleans and renews the skin while injecting it with a healthy kick of nutrients to leave skin glowing. My skin seems to respond best to this without any irritation (no fragrances added – just a subtle rose & green tea scent from the actives), and is clarified, bright, and ridiculously smooth.