Happy Tuesday, babies! In this month’s installment of Gimme Face! we’re talking masks. The seed for this post was planted by our lovely reader Lindsey, who asked us on Facebook for a good facial mask to detox from a cold. I recommended Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Masque, which is a minty, purifying classic, but I was also reminded that I LOVE MASKS. They are a regular part of my skincare routine, and I’m always ready to try a new one. And thus, this week’s post was born: what if I combined my love of face goop with my love of a bargain? Naturally, LC came along on this adventure with me. Because she has beautiful skin, she’s still a novice when it comes to the wonderful world of masks, and it was nerdily exciting to me to help her sort through all of her options.
Because cost was part of the challenge, we had to go shopping. Sephora, while one of my favorite places on earth, is also the leader in making you pay fifty dollars for a measly six at-home facial peels. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, DR. DENNIS GROSS. JK I LOVE YOU. BUT I HATE YOU.)
Ahem. Anyway. Our first stop was TJMaxx. Do y’all know about TJMaxx’s horribly disorganized but multifarious and delightful treasure trove of a skincare section? Because if you don’t, you’re missing out. The shelves are chock full of heavy hitters like Shiseido, Elizabeth Arden, Bliss, and Alba Organics, but they’re also stocked with random non-brand names I’m pretty sure are made up, as well as a hodgepodge assortment of K-Beauty. If you’re a skincare fanatic, with a finely-tuned routine and specific brand loyalties, you might be horrified when I tell you that it’s the randos that get me the most excited. Sure, it might melt my face off, but it might also do for five dollars what those name brands do for fifty, you know? Worth the risk, if you ask me. Lindsey and I both made out like bandits – Lindsey with a face mask, an eye mask, and a deeply discounted Bliss moisturizer, me with a mask and a Coke Zero for a whopping four bones. (I only didn’t buy more because I was literally at TJMaxx the day before. I might have a problem.)
One mask wasn’t enough, though, obviously – we want to be thorough! – so we then moseyed to Target to peruse their selection of cheap single-use masks. And to buy wine.
Once properly armed, we went back to Lindsey’s place to smear some unidentified substances all over our mugs and watch Catfish (yeah, Lindsey’s still obsessed, and she’s right, the episode with the psychic lady is FUCKING NUTS).
We’re about to get to the good stuff, but first, let’s talk about our individual skin concerns.
TFO: My skin is oily and acne-prone, but also, somehow, losing a ton of moisture with age? I also have wrinkles and sun damage spots, and I’m losing some firmness along my jawline. In short, it’s kind of a mess over here. Also, I have to tell you I feel a little cheated, because I started moisturizing and using sunscreen religiously in my very early twenties, but I guess sometimes the world punishes good people. Where’s my medal?
LC: So, you know how when you ask people if they could go back in time 10 years and tell their former selves something, what would it be? And the answer is typically like “take that job” or “leave that dirtbag” or “open your 401K you idiot” or something useful like that? Well, mine would be “BITCH, YOU BETTER START MOISTURIZING” because my skin just kind of gave up on life once I hit 30. I started getting acne, it was dry, it was red, it was dull, and then one day about a month or so ago, I woke up one morning and had eye wrinkles. At first I thought (convinced myself) that they were just creases in my skin from where I had slept on my sheets weird, and then later that night when they never went away I was like ohhhh shiiiiiiit. I had never paid much attention to my skin growing up and on into adulthood, meaning I have never worn much makeup, but I have also never invested much time or energy into skincare. I realize that this was an oversight on my part, and I am trying to make up for lost time now. So, for me, the main skin concern is aging, dull, dry, neglected skin that I am fairly certain has a vendetta against me.
Phase One: Correction
We each started with a mask meant to address a particular “problem,” i.e., the mask most likely to be drying. Both of us chose Shea Moisture products: I used their African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask ($2.49 at Target) to clean the gunk out of my pores, and Lindsey used their Youth-Infusing Mud Mask ($2.99, also at Target) to balance her skin.
TFO: This is the least drying charcoal mask I’ve ever used. My pores were definitely smaller and clearer after I used it, but I think I prefer a slightly more aggressive acne mask, particularly one that gets fully hard (that’s what she said). At the same time, it was nice that my skin didn’t feel like paper afterwards.
LC: I really liked this one. It felt great going on, smelled nice, didn’t dry out while it was sitting on my face (LOL), was easy to remove, and then, once it came off, my skin was smooth and for real glowing.
Phase Two: Rejuvenation
Next, we both tried our TJMaxx find: Bio-Miracle Collagen CoQ10 Sculpting mask, which claims to restore firmness and moisture to the skin AND to be “The Original Korean Face Mask.” You also get to mix it in a cup, which is fun.
TFO: This had a weird consistency going on my face, but it was EVEN weirder once it dried. It started congealing into flaps that sort of pulled away from my skin, and every time I tried to eat a cracker with Boursin I felt like the whole thing was just going to flop off. (No, I never considered not snacking while I had it on. Twenty minutes is an eternity without snacks.) Then, when I finally peeled the mask off, I could see impressions of my huge pores in the pieces, which was bizarre but also cool. Ultimately, this whole experiment was a 10/10, because my skin was visibly firmer and more elastic to the touch. I’m seriously considering finding this mystery crap online and buying it in bulk.
LC: This shit was weird. First off, it had subtle notes of Axe body spray, which immediately brought back memories of every bad Tinder date I’ve ever been on. Second, when you add water to it, the consistency can only be described as a cross between pancake batter and jizz, which then quickly starts curdling and turns into cottage cheese if you don’t spackle it onto your face fast enough. And last, it legit turns into Gak while it’s on your face. I am aware that I’m dating myself with that reference, but that is what it feels like and anyone who has ever handled Gak will know exactly what I’m talking about. In summation, it was great and I highly recommend it. Bonus because you get to peel it off your face after 20 minutes and you can see your skin impressions in the pieces of congealed Gak pancake jizz afterwards.
Step Three: Restoration
After attacking our faces for daring to age, it was time to soothe them and restore their hydration so they don’t revolt. Lindsey gave her lovely visage a double dose of recovery with Que Bella’s Perfecting Superberry Mud Mask ($1.99 at Target) and SpaWorks’ (totally not a made-up thing at all) Under-Eye Pads with Goat’s Milk & Hyaluronic Acid ($3.99 at TJMaxx). I went with Que Bella’s Professional Intense Hydrating Seaweed Hydrogel Mask ($4.99 at Target), which has GOLD IN IT (a trend that originated with Korean sheet masks, if you care).
TFO: First of all, let’s just get this out of the way: this shit is fucking terrifying. I look like I’m wearing the skin of a blow-up doll I deflated with a butcher knife. Or like some kind of plastic surgery monster. Additionally, the mouth and eye holes on this thing are SO SMALL. It made talking and blinking difficult, which I’m sure made me look way less creepy than I already did. I could tell Lindsey was struggling not to kick me out of her house and could almost literally see her skin crawling. BEAUTY IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART, y’all. But at least this abomination delivered: my skin was hydrated and glowing af after I took it off.
LC: These were both lovely. The under-eye pads had the consistency of the inside of okra; they were super slimy and did slip down my face quite a bit, but damn did they feel luxurious. The mask had a typical muddy consistency, the smell was not as nice as the first mask I tried, but I did feel that it left my skin feeling super hydrated and soft.
TFO: I liked all of these and think that using them in conjunction with each other yielded excellent results, but if I had to pick a least favorite, it’d be the Shea Moisture charcoal mask. I like Global Beauty Care’s mud mask or the aforementioned Queen Helene’s better, in terms of inexpensive acne-fighting options. My favorite was the Bio-Miracle. It was fun to mix and apply, its many changing textures were confounding, and it really did firm up my face without leaving me feeling tight or greasy, two outcomes that I often encounter with anti-aging products. Overall, after today my skin looks noticeably different: firmer, glowing, less redness and discoloration.
LC: I don’t have a least favorite. I really don’t. They all left my skin feeling refreshed and hydrated afterwards, so I think they are all worthy of praise. And my favorite might be the Collagen Mask because it was so weird and fun to take off. My skin definitely does look different. It’s glowing. For real. Taylor can confirm.
That’s it for us this week! Don’t hesitate to take a cue from Lindsey and get in touch with us on Facebook. We love hearing from you, and we do read and respond. Thanks for reading, and as always, we’ll C U Next Tuesday!