Leader of the Pack..
Mud packs, face masks, whatever you want to call them, they're an essential part of my beauty / grooming regimen (we're talking at least once a week folks, more if I have events to attend or I'm being photographed). I have oily skin, the positive benefit being that oilier skins tend to look more youthful as they age, due to their increased moisture levels (more sebum if you want to go all scientific). I'm fastidious about caring for my skin, it's one of the many pearls of wisdom my mother instilled in me from a young age (aren't mothers fabulous?) This, combined with favourable genes, is probably why people often tell me they think I'm in my early 20's (I'm 32).
The negative aspects of an oily skin type is that they are more prone to shine (mirror face anyone?) and breakouts (I know, the mere mention of the word fills me with dread).
Thankfully, there are a host of clay-based (or charcoal in the case of Origins) face masks available to minimise our pores, regulate excess sebum and keep those dreaded blemishes at bay.
I've compiled a selection of my personal favourites below, at a selection of different price points. There is something here for everybody.
In the shot at the top of the post, I'm wearing the Anthony Logistics Deep Cleansing Clay Mask. Note the fabulous monogrammed terry cloth bath robe embroidered with my initials "IB", a cherished Press gift. The shot above was taken after I'd used the mask (hence the dodgy barnet). I'm not wearing any make-up and I love the way it makes my skin glow. I've since hit the (peroxide) bottle, more of which in a subsequent post (and yes, blondes really do have more fun).
The Anthony Logistics Deep Cleansing Clay Mask has been part of my grooming kit since 2007. I love that the brand supports testicular cancer charities (beautiful and benevolent). I often switch to this deliciously-scented mask in colder weather as I find it hydrates as much as it deep cleanses. It contains a botanical blend of softening Apricot Kernel Oil, toning Calendula together with vitamins A, C and E (antioxidants are a must to protect against environmental aggressors and free radical damage). At just £9.00 this little miracle-worker doesn't break the bank and is fantastic value for money. My only grievance is that the red clay is rather messy but if you rinse it off in the shower, this tends to minimise any issues.
Anyone that knows me knows that I'm obsessed with REN. When you're inundated with products it's easy to be a beauty slut and switch brands as often as you change your shoes. However, REN (meaning "Clean" in Swedish) is one brand I've remained loyal to. I've been using the range religiously for close to a decade. The range is devoid of "skin nasties" such as parabens and SLS and the brand's ethics are in keeping with my "Neo-Hippy" principles. I'm especially keen on their serums, masks, moisturisers and body treatments, namely because a) in my experience they work and b) on the whole, they tend to smell absolutely heavenly, putting the "treat" into "treatment".
The REN Clarimatte Invisible Pores Detox Mask (try saying that in a hurry) pretty much delivers on its name. Minerals from French Clay draw out impurities and excess sebum, Proteins from Tropical Spirulina encourage cell renewal, while Essential Fatty Acids soften. It always leaves my complexion glowing, minimises the appearance of my pores (especially on my nose) and leaves my skin super-soft to the touch (always a bonus). I find the texture of this mask dryer than others and it doesn't spread as easily over the face, yet somehow it still works wonders. The only downside to this product is the scent (a tad on the clinical side for me) but it delivers on every other front so it definitely gets a "hero" rather than a "zero". At £18 I think it offers superb value, a little goes a long way, the pump action minimises mess and waste, the handy little cap stops the product from drying out and it seems to last for ages.
I've been using the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask since I discovered the brand in the 90's. I'm still using it more than a decade later which is testament to its efficacy. This mask not only deep-cleanses and keeps skin super matte, it's also like a face lift in a bottle. When it dries, I find it has a lifting effect on the skin (perfect to use before a special event or any instance that involves photographs). The Activated Charcoal works like a Dyson vacuum cleaner on your pores, while the China clay absorbs environmental pollutants. Lecithin dissolves impurities, leaving skin immaculately fresh and clean. At £22.00 it is neither cheap nor exorbitantly expensive but I do think it offers great value given the double-whammy of its combined aesthetic benefits.
There's a reason Yon-Ka Paris is beloved by Beauty Editors, yours truly and a veritable who's who of celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Lucy Liu. I urge you to have one of their facials (as I did back in 2007, quite literally the best facial treatment I've ever had - and I've had a few). You can visit www.yonka.co.uk or www.yonka.com to find your nearest authorised Yon-Ka Centre. I find their range nothing short of miraculous and it's not often I say that about an entire product line (praise indeed).
The 99% natural (and Paraben free) Yon-Ka Masque 103 clears and purifies the complexion with not one but three clays (they do say good things come in threes), a blend of Montmorillonite, Bentonite and Kaolin. Borneol performs the same function while essential oils of Sage, Soft Orange, Lemon and Lime tone and essential oils of Lavender, Geranium, Rosemary, Cypress and Thyme purify and balance. Marketing spiel aside, all you need to know is that this mask mattifies, minimises pores, treats blemishes, imparts a radiant glow and leaves skin feeling fabulous. Did I mention that the tantalising botanical scent is reminiscent of a leisurely Summer walk in Provence? The sweet smell of skin success. At £32 it isn't cheap but then neither is celebrity (looking) skin darlings.
On the Forbes Rich List end of the beauty spectrum we have Sisley's Creamy Mask With Tropical Resins. This falls into the category of products you'd find in the Financial Times How To Spend It section, in the pages of Vogue, or in the bathroom cabinet of an Oligarch's wife / mistress. Or a celebrity's for that matter (or in my case a very fortunate make-up artist and blogger who was sent one to trial). Sisley is without doubt an extremely high end, niche luxury brand but in fairness there is a reason many of their products win various Beauty Awards year after year.
Personally, I often use a selection of their cleansers, toners, serums, creams and masks when I work on brides and celebrity clients because a) they give rapid visible results, b) smell gorgeous and c) it's important to me that I make these individuals feel incredibly special. The mask has a Kaolin Clay base which, like the others, gives skin a deep-clean and mattifies by absorbing excess sebum (do you see a pattern forming here?) In addition it contains the soothing benefits of Myrrh and Incense and the cleansing action of Benzoin (it seems the only things it lacks is some gold, a star, three kings and a child who would be king).
Witty remarks aside, other active ingredients include Rosemary, Plantain, Burdock and Zinc (the latter being fantastic for treating blemishes), the astringent qualities of Iris and the hydrating properties of Plant Glycerin (a natural humectant). It does everything the others do, i.e. cleanse, treat and mattify but at £72 for 70ml the cost-per-wear works out at approximately £10 per use. I'd be more inclined to use it as an overnight targeted treatment on blemishes (it does do a fantastic job of calming redness and minimising spots).
Anthony Logistics Deep Pore Cleansing Clay Mask - £9.00
REN Clarimatte Invisible Pores Detox Mask - £18.00
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask - £22.00
Yon-Ka Paris Masque 103 - £32.00
Sisley Creamy Mask With Tropical Resins - £72.00