February 2016 Boxycharm Review #3: Shray Ms. Amazing Facial Mask

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Bonus points for adorable packaging.

Sheet masks in box subscriptions are always a nice treat! I love them, because they can be a nice pick-me-up in the middle of a busy week without being as time consuming as a traditional mask. My favorite ones tend are the hydrating formulas. I haven’t come across a pore cleansing/oil control sheet mask that I like as much as my charcoal/mud masks. But there are definitely some great hydrating/skin plumping ones out there.

Boxycharm included the Ms. Amazing Mask from SHRAY (USD $30.00, for a set of 5 masks). The Ms. Amazing Mask is specifically made for sensitive skin and is suppose to address the effects of excess dry skin and dullness. This came at just the right time. For the past few months, I’ve been traveling across borders and a time zone to get a professional certification. It’s absolutely been worth it, but man does constant travel have a way of drying and dulling my skin. Not cute and totally unhealthy.

Right off the bat, the packaging is adorable. I mean, just look at it! The cute factor doesn’t contribute to protecting the product (the actual sheet mask is in the standard packet), but points for being precious.

Let’s move on from aesthetics and get down to the important stuff: ingredients.

Y’all know just how picky I am when it comes to skincare ingredients. I want the most effective with none of the irritants. It’s a high bar over on this blog. This mask is actually one of the better ones when it comes to quality ingredients, but does have one huge flaw.

Let’s start with the positives. On the plus, there are some essential ingredients from which everyone can benefit. I love that there’s no alcohol in this mask. It’s a water based mask, which is good news for truly sensitive skin. If you’re using something claiming to be for sensitive skin, but still find your skin getting irritated, check the ingredients. There might be too much alcohol in it.

Star ingredients in this mask are Hyaluronate (aka, hyaluronic acid), which is an essential skin communicator and in more concentrated amounts (like in a mask) can help give back some plumpness to sallow skin. But really, everyone should be using skincare products with hyaluronic acid in their daily routine. There are two other great ingredients that help out with moisture, Piper Methysticum Extract and Hydroxyethyl Urea. On top of this, they include Rice Extract, which is really great for controlling oil production by tightening pores. This is great for those of us with skin that overproduces oil when skin gets dry.

This mask would be perfect if it weren’t for the big pink elephant in the room: fragrance (here, labeled as perfume). I have talked time and again about how fragrance should be a big no-no when it comes to skincare, especially for facial skincare and for people with truly sensitive skin. I’m a little more lenient when it comes to body skincare, but I still avoid it when I can. Fragrance is an irritant and can affect cell communication, which is essential to skin repair. I know it makes products seem more “fancy” and “spa like”, but constantly exposing your skin to fragrance does more damage and can even cancel out the benefits of other great ingredients.

Sometimes, some products will have it in such small amounts that it really won’t make a difference, but if you have true sensitive skin you really need to watch out. It could be very irritating, even though it doesn’t affect the majority of people.

This is too bad, because this mask had such promise.

I did use it and did see some plumping and brightening in my skin. I was super impressed, but I also don’t want to expose my skin too much to fragrance. I just wish this were truly a sensitive skin-friendly mask.

Rating: 3/5. This mask has some potentially amazing ingredients to revive tired and dry skin. I did see an immediate effect and it was a nice little treat for my face. But if you have really sensitive skin, be careful because of the fragrance in the ingredients. Had this mask been fragrance free, it would have gotten my full 100% recommendation. Maybe they’ll adjust the formula and get rid of the fragrance.

If you’d like to subscribe to Boxycharm, follow the link!

January 2016 Birchbox Review 1: Manefit Beauty Planner Cucumber Sheet Mask

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I have so many good things to say about this sheet mask.

When Korean beauty became all the rage here in the past two years, sheet masks started popping up everywhere. These masks are really convenient for travel, since you don’t have to take a whole tube with you, which is why I was excited to see them in American stores.

But since their arrival, I have yet to find one that I like and feel is effective. They were definitely fun to try out on Treat Yo Self home spa days, but I didn’t really feel they delivered on their promises. Plus, I’ve found that a lot of these masks are loaded with fragrance, something I try to avoid as much as possible when it comes to skincare.

So when Birchbox included this Cucumber Soothing + Moisturizing Mask from Manefit (USD $10.00 for 5 masks), I was really hoping I’d hit the jackpot of sheet masks. Winter had been drying out my skin with the reduced humidity outside and the heat being on all the time inside. Plus, I’ve been traveling like a maniac every week which never helps. It needed a moisture boost stat.

Manefit says this mask should soothe, hydrate, even out skin tone, and reduce puffiness. Puffiness isn’t really an issue with me. Plus, we all know that there is no such thing as a magical skin product that will take care of puffiness. The solution for a long term decrease in puffiness is: get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and keep your skin well moisturized. You know, all those things we never have time for. But my skin definitely needed some hydration and was looking a little lackluster because of it.

After my weekly trip out of town, I decided to put this to the test. Following the instructions, I washed my face and applied toner before using this mask. Like all sheet masks, it takes a little work to unfold because it comes soaked in serum. But once I got it unfolded and placed on my face like a Jason mask, I just sat back and let it do the work.

Another issue I have with sheet masks is that they come packed in so much serum that the stuff ends up running all over your neck and into your hairline. This mask was no different, which was a little annoying. But knowing this I just made sure to do the mask on a night when I hadn’t washed my hair. That way, the extra could seep all around my hairline and I could just wash it out later. I know manufacturers don’t want to risk masks drying out, but I do wish they could find a better mask to serum ratio.

The mask itself didn’t have a noticeable scent, which was appreciated. But looking at the ingredients, fragrance is listed though it is at the bottom of the list. Granted, I don’t think Korean products have to adhere to the same packaging regulations as the US and list ingredients from most to least prominent. All this to say, I have no clue how much fragrance there is. I’m hoping since it was the second to last ingredient, there wasn’t much at all. But this is important to mention for sensitive skin people.

Also, I should note that there is a lot of citrus fruit extract. This is what gives these products the “brightening” effect on the skin. While it didn’t irritate my skin, I think those who are very sensitive to grapefruit, lemon, and lime extract (all in there!) should avoid this mask. I don’t think the cucumber and hyaluronic acid in there will be enough to counteract the irritating effects of these particular ingredients.

After 20 minutes, I removed the mask and rubbed the excess serum into my skin before finishing up with my nighttime routine.

I’m not going to lie. There was a noticeable difference in my skin. Post mask, my skin looked plump from being rehydrated and those citric extracts did bring back some brightness. I looked and felt luminous without being left feeling overly greasy. In fact, this mask could actually work on oily skin without being overly hydrating.

The effects carried over into the next day. It was like the shot of espresso my skin needed to get back on track.

All in all, I was impressed.

Rating: 4/5. This sheet mask actually delivered on its promises. It provided a lightweight, yet significant hydration for my skin. I’m still a little hesitant about all the citric extracts in the ingredients and the unknown amount of fragrance, so I can’t recommend this for sensitive. But I think this mask is fine to use in moderation and spaced out over time whenever you need a hydration pick-me-up.

If you’d like to try out Birchbox, follow the link!