Saving my skin during Quarantine: Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash & YÜLI Pure Mask

Throughout quarantine, I’ve been quietly feeling and figuring out changes to my skin. I knew that staying at home would have some physical repercussions, as the small spaces and lack of openness in New York just aren’t conducive for activity, but I didn’t know how it might manifest on my skin. Even if you’re dedicated to doing online workouts, I just don’t think they’re able to compensate for the absolute change in lifestyle and drop in overall activity level.

Now this paragraph is going to bring us closer, because we’re going into TMI territory. The first thing that I noticed after a few days is what I call a “sticky sweat.” This isn’t the good body-drenching sweat that leaves you feeling the kick of endorphins after a productive workout, we’re talking about sitting around feeling stuffy and finding the skin surface kind of… “moistened” (a word I hate but find to be the best fit), like there is a layer of film. I find this to leave the skin more vulnerable to breakouts and irritation at large. Scientifically, it’s probably due to the “moistened” surface giving rise for more bacteria to flourish which I imagine can’t be good for the skin barrier. The second thing I noticed was an increase in my skin’s oil production. I think with any added stress (my iPhone happened to conveniently die in the middle of this and it was nearly impossible to get a hold of Apple), and bad eating (I have been going to town on my baking projects which are more of an excuse to indulge in comfort foods like muffins and scones), on top of the “stuffiness” from lack of fresh, free-flowing air, there probably is an over production of sebum that can mix with the moistened surface, creating congestion and triggering breakouts, which to me pop up around my hairline and T-zone. Thirdly, it wasn’t a visible thing, but I just felt that my skin was very “meh” and it wasn’t until I read this post from YÜLI on microcirculation and lymphatic movement that I realized how much my skin really just needed to be “touched”.

These are the two skincare products I’ve been using to address and relieve the issues that my skin has encountered during quarantine:

1. Cleanser – Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash

With the stuffiness, and heightened sebum production, washing my skin in the sink at night no longer felt like it was enough to “break through”. I moved it into the shower where the steam would help to dilate the pores, giving me a deeper cleanse. About 2 to 3 times a week, I’ll use Reflekt’s Daily Exfoliating Face Wash, a very gentle gel cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin (water, jojoba esters, and glycerin are its first 3 ingredients), nor does it even use acids to exfoliate (the only acids it does contain are hyaluronic acid and collagen amino acids). The exfoliation is provided by physical beads, the jojoba esters, a natural and very gentle physical exfoliator that is smaller, softer, and more uniform than any other physical exfoliator out there — natural or not — which is very important to me as I swore off physical exfoliators a while ago after seeing all the research on how even natural ones like Apricot Seeds can just as easily scratch and create micro-tears on the skin. This does not do that, the jojoba esters aren’t a hard solid, and would sooner collapse than damage your skin. What they do really well is they buff away the hardened oxidized sebum on the skin surface and those that have slipped into the pores, in addition to dead skin cells that stick to the surface now due to the excess sebum, which can cause breakouts.

Further, I like giving my skin a nice long massage with this cleanser, rolling the jojoba esters over my face as form of microcirculation to stimulate blood flow and restore some color to my face. I go over my skin in three sections: each cheek and forehead, massaging by barely applying any pressure to the surface of my skin and going counterclockwise. Not only does this keep the exfoliation very even, but it gets the blood circulating through the major areas, so everything feels fresher and more responsive afterward. I think this has become a great regular to rescue the skin.

 

2. Mask – YÜLI Pure Mask

Because quarantine is a lifestyle change, you need that “intervention” that snaps your skin out of the stagnant funk. YÜLI’s mask is my treatment step, sought out weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly if needed) as a stand-alone hero to press the reset button when I just need a clean slate. Pure Mask happens to have the perfect formula that deals with everything skin is going through at this time. The clays are biologically active, so unlike many of the clay masks, these are rich in minerals and antioxidants, more helpfully, these active clays have an ionic charge that happens to be adapt at pulling out pollution buildup, and luring out the the hardened and oxidized sebum, and all the pore clogging impurities. There are also fruit derived enzymes and rice powder (a renowned beautifying ingredient recognized as central to Geisha skincare rituals used across the Tatcha line) that resurface dead skin cells and remove that film of buildup, while evening skin complexion. The two ingredients together also increase cell turnover, which is not only good for anti-aging but also timely to overturn the sluggishness and dead skin cell buildup. This mask helps to dissolve that film of grime, and excess sebum, and makes my skin feel like it can finally breathe again and that serums can actually penetrate.

And Pure Mask contains lymphatic herbs that work with the active clays to boost microcirculation and lymphatic drainage which are the two most helpful activations to handle the overall effects of stagnation on the skin. These processes help to give tissues new nutrients and the increased flow of blood brings in fresh oxygen, while moving out waste and buildup (goodbye sodium/sugar induced bloating and puffiness), and what this meant for me was seeing my skin come alive again with a noticeable rosy, fresh glow.

Skincare Catchup: March 2020 Quarantine Edition

90090948_319410682350650_1004495937312807981_nHow’s everyone doing? As an introvert, this period of self-distancing hasn’t hit me particularly hard as it’s given me a chance to catch up on books, Netflix, and all the shows I’ve been meaning to watch. As an avid beauty junkie, I’ve been using this downtime to basically treat every day as though it was my Sunday self-care day. Here’s a snapshot of what I used today:

I begin each morning with my wellness drink, and given these times I’m not risking it — made by a board-certified nutritionist and dietitian, MIJA Superstar hits all the marks and immunity is a major benefit, plus, it tastes really good. I usually get anxiety/stress-induced inflammation that manifests as a stye or digestive issue but have not experienced any which I credit to this supplement.

I wash my face with lukewarm water then slather on YÜLI Pure Mask, which I’ve always loved but now have the time to really luxuriate in it. I think staying at home and not being able to get a decent sweat in at the gym has not been good for my pores and I’ve been noticing a bit more congestion, so this mask really helps to clarify while infusing with nutrients, giving me that naked baby-soft skin feel.

After rinsing off the mask, I follow with Reflekt’s Daily Exfoliating Face Wash. It’s very gentle and the exfoliation comes from jojoba beads rather than strong acids. I don’t use it as a scrub per se, but just a normal cleanse when I feel like my skin is a bit on the dull side. I also like that this is diluted in hyaluronic acid and otherwise skin moisturizing ingredients as well.

Post cleanse,  Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist is such a gorgeous mist. The bottle is beautiful and the juice is a nice milky texture. The only thing I had to change was being stingy with spraying it as I treasured it so much that I was not more generous with my sprays at the beginning.

Yuri Pibu Cellum Amaid Essence is so nice as well, and the perfect water-based serum that moisturizes. It’s a relatively clean K-Beauty staple that is focused on high concentrations of plant ingredients like yam that help to brighten skin too. It’s also very very gentle.

African Botanics Fleur’s D’Afrique Intensive Recovery Oil, I use this primarily as a night time oil but since I’m staying in all day, I figure why not go for it and slather on the anti-aging oil, right? This oil is STRONG but in that good way where you’re like “I’m definitely getting my money worth.” And it smells beautiful thanks to night-blooming flower extracts.

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition has become such a reliable moisturizer for day or night. It’s not an attention-getting product and I mean that in a good way because some products are divas and this is like the hardworking team member on your group project who always replies emails, does their work, is super dependable, and you end up becoming friends.

Vive Sana Serum Cream is my last step. It’s an SPF 20 which in any real-world scenario is low (Vive Sana has an actual SPF cream that is SPF 30), but in this stay-at-home scenario works wonderfully because it provides just that right amount of protection and is such a rich anti-oxidant filled cream. I’d almost describe it as a face oil in a cream form with SPF20 in there.


Let me know if you’d like me to share more daily routines while we get through this very unusual time together!

*This post is not sponsored, though it may contain some affiliate links.

Holiday Weekend Essentials: May 2017

Greetings from the first official summer holiday weekend! I’m writing this post while curled up in bed with a multiple masks on my skin – testing out Josh Rosebrook’s new Advanced Hydration Mask on dry patches and a mask I finally added to my collection: Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel, on oilier/more congested areas.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on the products in my rotation and as many of you have told me through e-mail and on social media, I agree that individual product review posts do not really provide a comprehensive window into how exactly the products work or are being used together. So without further ado, these are the products I’ve been using regularly for the past month or have introduced recently.


Sun: Spring and Summer is all about committing to sun protection. Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ has become one of my all time favorites and I have repurchased this about 5 times which is super rare as I love to try new products. For starters, this is a broad spectrum sunscreen that uses only mineral based sun protection (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) rather than chemicals which can be unstable and irritating. I’m not speaking from an analytical standpoint on chemical sunscreens, I speak from experience as someone whose eyes burn with any combination of chemical sunscreens. I also prefer the way my skin looks and feels with a physical block, yes it leaves a white cast and feels heavier than a chemical screen, but if you put it on just right it works like a highlighter and your skin just looks more luminous while being protected. And yes Zinc Oxide physical blockers may feel weighty, but they’re also anti-inflammatory and can be mixed with foundation for tinted coverage. Comparatively, chemical screens always add an oily shine, require more frequent applications, and don’t hide any imperfections (in fact I’m pretty sure the shininess accentuates them).

The SPF 50+ rating for Mustela is very rare for a non-chemical sunscreen so that is a huge bonus. There is a lot of evidence that many sunscreens on the market do not hold up to their sun protection claims, but Mustela is a brand that is developed from it’s French Lab origins which has higher compliance markers than the US (they have the seal of approval from the Melanoma International Foundation) and their line is specially made for the delicate skin of babies which makes this sunscreen even better for sensitive skin. They are categorized as a natural sunscreen but this isn’t really a botanical sunscreen and the ingredients are clean enough for me although some might not like that there are iffy ingredients like silicone. The kicker: a 3.4 oz tube costs only $16, which is INSANE for the quality you get, which may be why it’s sold out everywhere (Dermstore currently has 20% off but if they’re not allowing back ordering, try Sephora).

Fragrance: My former Neiman Marcus co-worker says there are two types of women, those who invest in perfume and lip stick, and those who invest in skincare, I fall firmly into the latter group.  I love sampling fragrances but cannot wear any because the synthetics are nauseating to me. I remember trying natural perfumes from Whole Foods and feeling like I was just throwing on essential oils from an aromatherapy class which felt too crunchy for my taste. Enter Kahina with their concentrated roll-on oil perfumes. Essaouira is a seaside Moroccan village, and their namesake fragrance is a fresh and crisp homage with notes of floral rose, sweet woodsy sandalwood, uplifting lavender, and a very pristine top-note of citrusy petitgrain. The perfume is 100% steam distilled essential oils which means it is powerful and concentrated yet never cloying as there are no artificial fragrances. The staying power is just right where you can catch it wafting with the summer breeze. And best of all, it actually smells like something I’d be able to get at a department store.

Moisture: Weleda’s Soothing Almond Facial Lotion is basic, and that’s the point. This lotion is meant for sensitive skin and is hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free. With all the active serums, masks, toners in my rotation, I really wanted a moisturizer that just moisturized really well. This is that product. Sweet Almond Oil and Plum Kernal Oil both fight dryness, enhance softness and soothing properties that makes this lotion a pacifier for when you overdo it with the retinol or acid-toning. Too much action from acids and serums can lead to inflammation that ages skin and makes it more delicate, this lotion is my trick for avoiding that fate whenever I start seeing redness or feeling tightness and excess tingling and it has always come through for me.

Acid Toner: Speaking of… I finally jumped on the Drunk Elephant bandwagon by taking the plunge on Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. I’m not a huge proponent of regular acid-toning, but during the summer with the sweat+excess oil production plus heavier sunscreen usage, pores are way more prone to clogging so I acid tone to basically let my skin breathe every few days especially if I feel a breakout developing. This is a transparent brownish gel that works best under a moisturizer and reminds me of Arcona’s The Solution. I just started using this night serum (which is really an acid toner), and like all glycolic acid based acid-toners, my skin tingled/burned a bit when first used but is now adjusting.

That is one of the things I feel needs to be said: I know this brand made a splash by intimating that due to a lack of essential oils, their products will not cause irritation and be a sensitive skin’s best friend, which is a hefty promise that is unfortunately not realistic. All ingredients have the potential to cause irritation based on individual allergies and it is therefore not possible to have an ingredient much less a formulation that will work for everyone without triggering any sensitivities given that no two people are alike. Drunk Elephant may not use essential oils but they do use other active ingredients, in this case a 12% Glycolic Acid in addition to Tartaric and Lactic Acid which is very powerful and should be approached with some caution. I think there will be more people with sensitivities to this acid than a dilution of an essential oil like rose oil. It all depends on your personal skin sensitivity and how a product is formulated (concentration, other ingredients, other products used) that will determine how your skin gets on with the product so don’t blindly think this will work for you and don’t automatically assume anything with essential oils is going to be bad for you if you don’t have those sensitivities. This is not a critique on the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, in fact I quite like the formula so far but I just wanted to provide clarity to what I felt was a problematic message by their founder regarding skin sensitivity. As for the actual product, I’ll be able to give more insight after I’ve used it a while longer.

Mask: I’ve really been obsessed with masks lately. Beyond the two mentioned at the beginning, I finally got around to opening my Tata Harper Purifying Mask which is. oh. so. good. Truth be told, I like this more than her original Resurfacing Mask which is already one of my favorites. This is one of those cases where Tata’s tendency to stay in her own lane in terms of developing products that primarily suit her own skin type (mature – drier skin) is beneficial. This purifying mask is deep cleansing, removes “environmental toxins” and great for “eliminating surface build up” which is much needed in the summer, and because it’s a Tata Harper product – even the purifying mask is buttery and non-stripping. It spreads so easily and rinses clean, and is a total pleasure to use (the scent is very fresh and spa like, I’d describe it as crisp lemongrass meets zingy ginger)- only con is that it only comes in that one size which really doesn’t last long enough given how addictive this will be throughout summer. Seriously though, please – someone at Tata Harper, I’m glad you got the pricing under $60 but these masks HAVE to be offered in a size that is bigger than 1 oz.

Serum: I think anyone who invests in skincare asks the question: “is this the best that money can buy?” With YÜLI, the answer is a resounding yes. Liquid Courage is their antioxidant serum which I use year round but especially for environmental protection and repair during summer. This serum is special, here’s why: mainstream lines throw in superstar ingredients next to an ingredients list of fillers that are cheap and don’t do too much, while green/organic lines just throw together a bunch of plant oils and call it an “antioxidant” serum or a super active serum. With YÜLI, each product feels like a realization of a dream product the same way that companies like BMW and Mercedes Benz design concept vehicles to realize purist visions outside of prohibitive production costs or other business considerations.

Case in point: YÜLI designed Liquid Courage to be the antioxidant powerhouse with a base made of a botanical seed complex which is the densest natural source of nutrients and has the highest levels of antioxidant activity. Then there is the advanced form of Vitamin C that even a line like Sunday Riley has JUST incorporated as the star ingredient in her newly released Vitamin C serum, heralded as a cutting edge discovery. This just shows the level that YULI is on, as the same form of Vitamin C is just one of the many notable ingredients for this serum, when with any other brand’s product, much less Sunday Riley, it is treated as the singular superstar. YÜLI also put in Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E, which means, yup this is a cleanly formulated CE Ferulic serum with an organic antioxidant botanical seed oil base – basically all the best things for your skin in one bottle. Oh we’re not done: then there are peptides and their exclusive – biofermentation of black garlic which increases its antioxidant potency by 6 times. The serum sinks in effortlessly and has a crisp, bright scent of neroli, which like most of their ingredients, are grown right on their own farm which brings fresh to a new level as well. And while a “super oil” these days will often mean a blend of 11-20+ oils if that, at around the $200 mark, this one has 20+ of the most beneficial ingredients, including powerful ones that are not harnessed in this synergy anywhere else for $125. So yes, this is the best that money can buy and the fact that it comes in at the price it does shows they design the best products and really deliver on value, this is why YÜLI has earned such a cult following where their products are continuously sold out and it is also why I’m currently on bottle number 8 of this antioxidant serum.

That’ll do it for this round-up, any products you have questions about? Drop a comment!

Lina Hanson Global Face Trio – REVIEW


Last year, Lina Hanson relaunched her skincare line with a redesign and brand new products, and I immediately gravitated toward her Global Treasures Balm (which I wrote a bit about here). The other product she released alongside the scene stealing balm was the Global Face Trio, a 3-in-1 multipurpose powder that can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator and mask. Now I know what some of you are thinking “I do not need another powder in my life,” I felt the same way between the 3 cleansing powders, 5 powder masks, and 2 exfoliant powders all sitting in my bathroom. But Lina thought ahead and knew we were essentially cluttering our lives with products, so she instead took another approach by simplifying all these products into one multi-use product – a powder versatile enough to be a cleansing powder, an exfoliant, and a mask based on what our skin needs. Now, sometimes when a product promises hybrid functionality, it ends up doing each thing in a mediocre way but every now and then you get something like the chopstick – a purist tool that is high-functioning and valuable. So where does Global Face Trio stand?

Let’s start with learning more about the product:

“This 3-in-1 multi-purpose solution is a gentle yet effective powder that purifies, brightens, clarifies, and balances the skin. This unique product is not only customizable depending on your skin’s needs, it saves space on your counter, in your luggage, and in your mind, because it multi-functions.”

So this powder is basically the konmari version of your skincare. It’s formula is:


kaolin (white clay), limonia acidissima (thanaka) wood powder,** citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel powder* oryza sativa (rice) bran powder, acanthopanax senticosus (ginseng) stem extract, bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem powder, citric acid, curcuma longa (turmeric) root, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root powder, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,* citrus nobilis (mandarin) peel oil,* limonene***, citronellol*** geraniol,***

*Organic
**Ethically Harvested
***Naturally occurring in essential oils

The powder is clay based, and Kaolin Clay is very adaptable for most skin types as it is deeply cleansing yet also mild. The 2nd ingredient is the key: Thanaka Wood Powder, which falls into Lina Hanson’s Global Beauty philosophy of sourcing effective ingredients from her travels. Thanaka Wood Powder comes from the Thanaka Wood in Myanmar and it gives the powder it’s golden tint. Burmese women apply Thanaka Powder to their skin for its multiple skin benefits which include tightening pores, clarifying skin and decreasing breakouts. Orange Peel and Mandarin Peel are going to be clarifying powerhouses and while I would not use citrus in a face oil, I do not have issues with using them in a product that is rinsed off at home. The Ginseng, Licorice, and Turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory, brightening ingredients that boost circulation. Rice Bran Powder and Bamboo Powder are traditionally used in Asia to refine skin. Finally lemongrass gives this powder it’s refreshing scent and also has anti-septic properties. And if you’re keeping count, I’ve called out virtually each ingredient, which just shows that there really is no filler in this product, everything is in there for a very good reason.

How it Performs:


If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know that I take my time to really get to know a product. In this case, I realized that while the Global Face Trio can indeed by used as a cleanser, exfoliator, mask – it works best in two ways:

1. Add a few drops of water then mixed with a cleanser as a base (my favorite pairing is with YULI Halcyon) to simultaneously cleanse and exfoliate skin. The powerful mixture gives a deep clean and exfoliation that must be experienced. I do this about 2 or 3 times a week when my skin feels a little congested or in need of a “resurfacing” treatment, it feels like you’re soaking your skin in the best ingredients, almost like a mini-mask treatment as you cleanse. As an exfoliating powder, the finely milled nature of this powder means that it is much more gentle on skin and won’t feel rough or scratch at your skin.Take a good 5 minutes to just slowly cleanse and relax, adding more water if it dries before rinsing off. My skin immediately looks like there’s a soft filter, to a degree where I did not know skin tone could change so drastically in such a short amount of time.

2. As a mask, mix with water and add a few drops of a face oil if you need more moisture (Lina’s own Global Facial Serum is quite a good pick and the ingredients work really well together). I almost immediately feel a tingle where you know an ingredient is working. It’s not uncomfortable and there is no heat/burning sensation, I think it is from the tonic nature of the herbs including the thanaka, citrus peels, ginseng, licorice, and turmeric.  I leave it on for 15-20 minutes and when I wash it off, my skin really does look 2-3 shades lighter.

Final Thoughts


I think the Global Face Trio is an amazing product that packs so much performance as each ingredient is so powerful and purposeful. This is why my skin ALWAYS looks brighter and clearer almost immediately after using it. I know that I probably made it sound like it is solely a brightening product but it really goes beyond that, the brightening is the most visible result but it’s really an entirely stimulating procedure due to super-toning herbs that evens skin tone, calms inflammation, erase irritation, reverse skin damage (many of the herbs actually fight UV damage) and boost overall radiance due to improved health. Perhaps a better word for the result would be that it is rejuvenating but the most visible/immediate result is definitely the brightening – either way, there is no question that Global Face Trio is the real deal. Beyond that, I also commend the Global Face Trio as unlike most powders on the market, it does NOT contain Baking Soda – a major rarity and a huge bonus.

At $70 for 3.4 oz + a beautiful bamboo spoon for scooping, I feel that everyone using a powder with baking soda needs to make the switch and those who don’t have any powders, need to make The Global Face Trio, their first powder as it’s so hard to go wrong with how multifaceted and results-driven the formula is.

Available at:
Credo Beauty
The Detox Market

The Sunday Trio

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Although everyone worries about their skin during the winter, I’ve always found summer to be more challenging. With the hot weather and scorching sun you have to not only figure out how to keep or increase moisture in your skin, but you have to account for increased sweatiness, oiliness, and increased usage of sunscreen. This leads me to sharing my Sunday trio, 3 steps that work as my weekly “restart” button to get my skin back into shape for the week ahead.

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YÜLI Pure Mask

This is one of the best powder to cream masks I’ve experienced. As is to be expected with YÜLI, there is a level of thoughtfulness and sophistication here that is quite special. The airy texture of the powder is super-fine that once activated with water turns into a silky cream that applies effortlessly onto skin. The reason this works so well for summer is because the ingredients have a cooling and soothing effect thanks to traditional Asian botanicals like mung bean, green tea and goji berries. When my skin is red, overheated, congested, or feeling gross in general from the effects of summer, this is like a cool smoothie for my skin – filter out the bad stuff, chock full of the good stuff.

Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

I am absolutely obsessed with this product. Like all Tatcha products, the presentation is beautiful but more so – the memory serum concentrate has such a unique formula where the texture is like a cross between a soft Japanese tofu and JELLO. Even when I scoop over some of the concentrate, the formula refills the areas I just scooped – how cool is that?!

So moving beyond that, the reason I love this is because it is essentially the ultra-concentrated form of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist that is universally loved (it was even recently featured on Kylie Jenner’s snapchat). So this is THE product for getting hydration into skin and to accelerate recovery from a day out – making it the perfect pairing to the Pure Mask.

Aurelia Cell Revitalize Day Moisturizer

This is a dreamy, rich day cream that helps with dryness and dehydration, and it is the final step to seal in all of the good stuff from the first two steps. While the thickness may deter some, I love the way the creaminess just melts away into skin leaving it feeling only nourished without heaviness. This is definitely a very high quality product that is very rich with organic oils, aloe, and probiotics which keep skin surface healthy. Simply a pleasure to use.

The Review: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist
Do you have Instagram? If you do and you follow green beauty pros then you’ll know what I mean when I say there doesn’t seem to be a single person who has not heard of or tried May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver. It’s almost an unspoken requirement that to be inducted into the green beauty club, one has a signature Problem Solver #maskselfie.

May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is one of her core products that helped start it all. It’s a correcting mask made of powdered clays, salts, warming spices, charcoal, and “soil nutrients”. May calls this her “hero. over-achiever. superstar” and describes it as follows:

The jet-black fusion of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts and exotic warming spices goes deep, on a mission to reveal your most radiant self. This intense treatment masque effectively purifies and tightens pores, extinguishes inflammations, fights and heals blemishes, jump-starts circulation in the epidermis and detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power. The radically different powder-to-mousse formula activates on contact with water, only releasing its magic at the exact moment of use so you experience full potency every time.

I had read about how this mask provides for quite an intense, heated experience and I will never forget the first time that I used this mask. When I opened the jar, it felt grand. The hefty, weighty jar seemed like it could go on forever. The powder looked a little like ash or soot and smelled like cacao, spices and clay. I diligently followed the instructions and rejoiced in turning the mask into a jet black fusion. Immediately upon application I felt an initial sting that quickly grew into a burning sensation and my face became frozen in a state of grimace.

5 minutes in, I was sweating. My breathing grew heavy and every second tested my resolve to stick it through. But I was so afraid of seeing lobster-red irritated skin if I washed it off prematurely as I believed that this must be the reason we’re instructed to leave the mask on for 45 minutes. As the mask began to dry, my pain gradually subsided. I thought I was out of the woods. And it was then a single god forsaken drop of sweat dripped into my eyes and I discovered pain on a whole new level. I was now crying while wincing and grimacing simultaneously. 45 minutes could not come soon enough and when it did, I washed with tepid, low flowing water which was all my battered skin could take. The rinse off actually provides exfoliation which is good in theory but horrible when your skin just got destroyed. It took me about 5 minutes to wash my face as I needed to be gentle and also because this mask rinses pretty dirty. I was pleasantly astonished to see that my face wasn’t lobster red after the blistering burn I experienced. However it felt traumatized and I looked like I had just emerged from an all night bender. My pores were blackened which required toner on several cotton rounds to clean. My skin looked sullen, dull, and lifeless.
May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

If I’m being fully honest, this is the first beauty product I’ve purchased that I’ve seriously thought about returning. Given that this mask costs $90, I was determined to make it useful in some way: trying it on friends, boyfriend, family – no one really took to it. Then I read through online advice provided by May: apply this mask pre-cleansing/showering, or add some honey. But these are all just ways to keep as many things between the mask and your skin as possible, in other words creating barriers from your skin and the mask while still convincing you to use it.

Now let’s figure out why I had this experience. This is the full ingredients list for The Problem Solver:

Fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, raw cacao, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid,sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, organic vanilla, organic lavender, organic marshmallow root, wild harvested frankincense, organic gotu kola, organic angelica root, organic cinnamon,organic nutmeg, organic clove, organic turmeric, organic cayenne

Baking soda, raw cacao, cinnamon, clove, cayenne pepper. The aforementioned are not my Whole Foods shopping list for my next baking project, they’re what you’re marinating your skin in when you apply The Problem Solver. Cacao is a very popular product that’s antioxidant rich, however it’s kind of like wine – there are great properties but nothing exceptional but people laud it because it’s pleasurable. Baking Soda is something I use to scrub and clean my bathroom, it is also very alkaline which really messes up your skin’s pH and functionality so it is not something that is going to do your skin any favors long term. These are among the first 6 ingredients in the mask.

Then we have the spices, or what Tata Harper and countless other skin experts call sources of irritation and inflammation. Despite being culprits for the intense burning, their skin benefits are arguable yet what is absolutely for certain is that these spices cause inflammation. There was a short lived sitcom starring Michael J. Fox on NBC when I first got this mask where his TV character’s family makes a effort to connect with his zanny sister-in-law who always flocks to the next trendy thing. She makes them all mask together and they all going with it to accept her, and then they get burned and run to wash their skin as she says “there is cayenne pepper! They said it’s dujour!” and that summarizes the nonsensical nature of this mask.

To be fair, I understand everyone’s skin will respond differently. And you might love this mask and have no idea what I’m talking about when I share my experience. The reason I call out these ingredients is because I think they’re objectively bad for anyone’s skin.

And that spells the genius of the May Lindstrom hype machine which has convinced legions of beauty junkies and hopeful customers to not only apply these ingredients that go against one’s intuition but to idolize this time as the most delicate form of sensual self-care. As an industry, beauty is swayed more by a pretty story, visuals or ideas than actual scientific data which is irresponsible because the products we use should be more thoughtfully considered.

MayFB

Via May Lindstrom Facebook Page

Case in point: it wasn’t until May introduced a mask that used cayenne pepper that now multiple green brands also happen to have masks that use cayenne pepper despite this being highly irritating and inflammatory. It wasn’t until May educated us on the benefits of honey for skin in her Honey Mud that multiple green brands now have honey based products, despite it being essentially unviable when any other ingredient touches it. It wasn’t until May made us eye-gasm over the Blue Cocoon’s hue that other companies jumped onto the bandwagon with blue tansy oil despite the fact that with exception to its striking color, I would not use it daily or long term as it is listed as an ingredient to avoid for pregnant women and also those with endocrine or hormonal imbalances, which feels like nearly all the commenters on No More Dirty Looks, and I’ve seen multiple comments online from those who use this saying they can’t use it regularly as it leads to clogged pores and breakouts.

So many blogs will write about the importance of vetting brands while hyping up the very lines they should be questioning. Based on what I’ve researched, I cannot find sufficient evidence that shows whether May herself has any educational background in skincare or dermatology – and if I’m being honest, her title as skin chef doesn’t inspire too much confidence (again beautiful imagery, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN). Green Beauty is rife with passion, but passion and good intentions don’t translate into safe nor beneficial formulas. Given my history with her products, I question how these products are supposed to actually be good for skin (see review on Honey Mud).

Due to my very intense experience that created a very real, physically adverse reaction – I did more research on The Problem Solver in particular to see whether I was the only one. To my surprise, upon closer reading I found a handful of reviews where the bloggers acknowledge the burning but also that upon contacting May, a new jar was sent as a replacement that was free of said irritating ingredients, leading to a glowing review. This isn’t really a question on the validity of the green beauty hype machine, but rather at what point the review becomes entirely inconsequential as the product reviewed is essentially a custom-made product that is going to be different from the one that readers are being convinced to purchase? I know May is kind and gracious, but I think it is misleading to assume that your Problem Solver, will match an influential blogger’s custom made version.

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

This might come off preachy and judgy but I assure you it isn’t my goal – because I’m just as guilty of slathering on the said bathroom grade solvent+spices on my skin when they’re gorgeously packaged in dense black glass and gold lettering. My hope is to have this serve as a wake-up call to truly and actually reclaim your independence and trust your intuition. It’s an exercise in being active about what you put on your face rather than passively streaming in the messages you are bombarded with when you go onto social media from retailers, bloggers, brands and beauty sites. I know that May did the level of work and research that satisfied her and her retailers/customers, but I also know that the way she makes products and her choices of ingredients (& those other lines that mimic her) are just not aligned with my ideals.

If I were to summarize the line it would be this: I think May’s objective and success is that she formulates for that sensory experience. Creating products with aromatic richness or vibrant hues that are instantly photo-friendly and incredibly easy for editors to feature as they’re more concerned with marketable copies while only requiring a superficial understanding of the actual skincare. The priority then isn’t necessarily focused on ingredients that are especially great for the skin which opposes what I believe the goal should be for skincare products. This doesn’t mean in my book she can’t do anything right, it just means I’ll have to be diligent in examining future products in a vacuum away from the hype machine.

So tell me: have you had a similar experience to share or am I being too harsh? 

The Review: African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask

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When it comes to masks in the green beauty and luxury field, we’ve got it pretty good. There are a lot of options: powders that turn to creams, gels, clays, etc. African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask is the latter, a ready-to-go clay mask reminiscent of the tube of Origins Clear Improvement Mask most of us may remember from high school/college days. Think of this as a luxury upgrade to the clay masks from yesteryears, a antioxidant-rich, nourishing clay mask that features pretty green ingredients.

I’ve been interested in the African Botanics line for a while and here’s why: they have pretty clean ingredients, they source many of their ingredients from South Africa (such as the Marula Oil) and they’re relatively under the radar yet have great presence at many of the upscale boutiques such as Space N.K., B-Glowing and CAP Beauty.

Here’s what this mask promises:

Clay-based treatment mask that deeply cleanses and refreshes fatigued skin while providing hydration, vitamins, and energy to your skin.
Replenishes skin with minerals rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids to boost circulation and stimulate cell renewal. The antioxidant and omega-rich fusion of Marula, Baobab and Africa’s legendary botanicals purify, clear congested pores, brighten, firm and smooth the skin. Enhanced with the latest plant stem cell technology, this mask deeply rejuvenates while addressing facial blemishes, breakouts, discoloration and oxidative stress. Resores a healthy glow without drying or leaving your skin feeling taut.
Skin Concerns:
• Congested
• Stressed skin
• Loss of firmness and youthful density
• Uneven skin tone and texture
• All Skin Types subjected to urban stress and city life

Pretty impressive right?

Here are the full ingredients:

AQUA (WATER), KAOLIN (WHITE CLAY), SCLEROCARYA BIRREA (MARULA) SEED OIL**, ADANSOANIA DIGITATA (BAOBAB) OIL**, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL STEARATE, SODIUM LEVULINATE, SODIUM ANISATE, CETYL ALCOHOL, MYROTHAMNUS FLABELLIFOLIUS (RESURRECTION PLANT) EXTRACT, ASPARLATHUS LINEARIS (ROOIBOS) EXTRACT, SMITHSONITE EXTRACT, HEMATITE EXTRACT, RHODODENDRON FERRUGINEUM (ALPINE ROSE) LEAF CELL CULTURE EXTRACT, ROSA DAMACENA (ROSE) ESSENTIAL OIL, PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS ROSEUM (ROSE GERANIUM) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS CLEMENTINA (CLEMENTINE) PEEL OIL, ISOMALT, LECITHIN, SODIUM BENZOATE, LACTIC ACID, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, TOCOPERHOL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, XANTHAN GUM, DISODIUM EDTA, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, IRON OXIDES, CITRAL*, CITRONELLOL*, EUGENOL*, GERANIOL*, LIMONENE*, LINALOOL, *METHYL EUGENOL*, NERAL* MAY CONTAIN ± [CI 77499] *CONSTITUENTS OF 100% NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS USED. **CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. 100% VEGAN. GLUTEN-FREE. FORMULATED WITHOUT MINERAL OIL, TOXIC PRESERVATIVES, COLORANTS, SILICONE, SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, SULFATES, TRICLOSAN, PARABENS, PEGS, PPGS, DEA, TEA, UREA OR PHTHALATES.

What I like is that white clay which is purifying and drawing is balanced with rich plant oils from Marula, Baobab, Acocado which all are renowned as superb oils that keep skin plumped. There is also Alpine Rose Leaf cell culture extract which supposedly increases cell longevity, and lactic acid which exfoliates and plumps skin.

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Essentially this mask promises the purifying properties of a clay with the anti-aging properties of what they can ‘essential’ extracts or plant oils that balance out the drawing properties of clay allowing the mask to remain rather soft, applying as a paste and staying consistent throughout.

My Experience

Right off the bat, I loved the little, subtleties from the way the box opened to the mirrored cap on the frosted glass. It reminds me a lot of the Omorovicza Thermal Balm in terms of appearance.

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Once you open the jar, you’ll notice a natural scent of clays mixed with citrus which is a good balancing act. The texture of the clay mask is substantial yet also light enough to easily scoop. I’d compare it to a light, fluffy peanut butter. It also spreads pretty easily and evenly on skin which makes application a breeze. Due to the presence of oils, this mask will also not harden too much during application which is great for keeping moisture in your skin.

I find that if I apply too much around my laugh lines, there is a tingle sensation that can feel a little unpleasant but that’s my own skin sensitivity that tends to happen with a significant number of products. I leave this mask on for the recommended 5-15 minutes (usually going for 15 minutes to get my money’s worth) and wash off as a cleanser which supposedly also helps to exfoliate skin. The wash off is quite simple and the mask removes fairly easily without the need for excess scrubbing.

What I like about this mask is how easy and simple it is to use. No self-mixing (which is great for when you have time and want to fine tune, but sometimes you just want to get a quick mask session in- feelme?? ), soft texture so no tugging at skin for uneven application, and easy to rinse off.

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In terms of results, I felt that this was a very useful and convenient mask. Despite initial tingling which is normal for me, it’s actually very gentle overall especially for a clay based product which makes it good for those with sensitive skin. In full honesty, I’m not sure if this mask did anything to address the anti-aging claims such as increasing firmness or density, though I wouldn’t rely on this mask as the primary source of my anti-aging skincare needs anyway. With that said I did find the clays to be quite resourceful at tackling congestion in a non-irritating manner and thereby also taking care of my skin when stressed (which tends to manifest in excess oil production and slow turnover). Those with more problematic skin might want to apply a hearty layer and leave the mask on for longer than the recommended 15 minute allotment.

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At $75 for 1.7 fl oz, this is pricey especially as it is ready made which tends to run out quicker. This mask can be used 2-3 times per week and while I’ve only stuck to using it once per week, I would imagine increasing usage would make it run out easily within 2 months. The closest mask similar to this would be the Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask which is also a ready-made clay mask that retails for $62 for the same amount of product. Because I enjoy these masks for their dual use: clays to draw out and oils to nourish principal, I always keep one stocked for when my skin needs something quick yet gentle.

This mask can be purchased at the following locations:
African Botanics 
CREDO Beauty
Space N.K.

Have you tried anything from this line? Any good clay masks you keep in your top shelf? Leave a note in the comments section!