How was your long weekend? Mine was good. I spent it in the off-the-grid seclusion of my parents’ cabin in the Catskills where I feasted on peaches and campfire marshmallows (don’t come at me with graham crackers and chocolate) for three days, wore bug spray on MY FACE, and fell asleep each night to sleep the sleep of the sweaty and un-showered, a sleep as peaceful as the abyss, my scraped bare feet hanging off the edge of the aerobed. It was blissful. There are no photos because I was brambly, bug-bitten, ramshackle mess.
I returned home to mope around in boxer shorts and gorge myself on mac n’ cheese and that brings us to today and my currently glowering state of disarray. Yes, I’ve returned to the land of cell phones and concrete, bearing problem skin badges of my idyllic getaway.
Anyone looking at me, though I hunch down and avert my eyes, can most likely tell I spent a feral weekend chasing a corgi through a brook and foraging for early strawberries, because I have a lovely crop of whiteheads Settlers-of-Catan-ing it up around my nose and chin, converting resources into sheep, sullying my regal visage, and having a grand old gross time.
You see, while I made merry in a postlapsarian Eden, beset by swallowtails and wreathed in dappled light, I neglected to do any serious face washing. It’s actually worse than that. For four days, I only used makeup wipes. And didn’t moisturize. I know. I know. Horrifying.
Anyway, my oil glands took full advantage of my lapse in fastidiousness and now my face looks slickly fuzzy and craggy in patches and I couldn’t put on foundation this morning because my skin was a disorganized, problem-skin wreck so I can’t even fool anyone into thinking I have an Instagram filter implanted in my dermis and an always suffused with a gleaming, airbrushed light that shines from within.
Not whatever this mess is…
The issue I face when it comes time to return to civilization after any sort of extended debauchery and/or outdoor excursion is that my skin doesn't only present just one issue. Oh, no. I have combination skin and, therefore, a combination of issues. There's the aforementioned slickly fuzzy places where my face has produced extra oil maybe in a vain attempt to slack the thirst of the overly dry and flaky patches on my nose and forehead, I don't know and I'm not going to waste everyone's time by speculating about the intentions of my skin. Instead, I'm going to share with you my arsenal of skincare — specifically face masks because washing with a targeted cleanser, be it for oily or dry or combination skin may fix one face-sector's issues while exacerbating another — that I use to selectively treat the problem areas on my face.
I started my morning with preventative measures — 10 minutes with my face in the sink under a towel, followed by slathering many, many quarter-sized dollops (too many, if I'm being honest, but whatever, it smells real good) of Origins Out Of Trouble 10 Minute Mask To Rescue Problem Skin ($26) on my face. This mask is a multi-tasker and very minty and also my go-to "let me do what I can now and forge ahead fearlessly and deal with this whole face-mess later" mask. In the span of mere minutes, it starts tingling and sucking up oil and gently exfoliating when you massage it off with warm water.
You all know by now that I love Lush products right? In case you missed it, this is why: in the great Amber Rambharose Acne Surge of 2014, when nothing else would stop the plague-like scourge of blemishes from ravaging my face, Lush's Mask of Magnaminty rose like the morning sun, like a beacon of hope and clarity, and eradicated the deep pimples on my chin. And there was peace and prosperity. And the lion laid down with the lamb.
So, yeah, suffice it to say that Lush is a brand that knows how to handle problematic skin offering a really exceptional variety of face masks with ingredients you can read without sounding them out. This is a boon for sensitive skin that responds to less natural dead skin sloughing or pore purifying by getting even more worked up. Lush is good for you. I know this because my favorite go-to masks have to be kept in the fridge, near my food, and that means they are safe. Duh. In no specific order — but accompanied by helpful captions! — here are the Lush masks I like to use in tandem because a) they're affordable and b) such pretty colors.
Herbivore is my new favorite skincare brand, if only because I feel like a fancy apothecary when I mix the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Spot Treatment Mask ($22) or Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask ($22) with the recommended amount of water in a tiny glass dish that the pizzeria near my house delivers tiramisu in. Even with a glass dish and an eye-dropper, I'm not being as fancy as I could because Herbivore actually offers an applicator brush and — in conjunction with The Object Enthusiast — a hand-crafted, gold-flecked stone Mask Treatment Dish for mixing its various masks which is much fancier and more ceremonial.
These two masks feel like a rarity when you dab your fingers in them, a grain fine as ash in either color, and create with your own two human hands, a paste that will harden like a shell over your problem skin, preparing it for rebirth, washing away excess oil and detritus.
As in the myths from an era long since past, a time when truths were engraved on terracotta pottery and men were known to have been formed from the roughage of the earth, the clay in these masks is transformative. The organic, food-grade, Cambrian Blue or French Pink Clay is blended with either steam-distilled or cold-pressed oils to offer deep-cleansing without any of the adverse reactions sensitive skin has to more processed or harsher products. (But always spot-test before you use it. Don't be a hero.)
Note: I will pop in tonight to show you my intricate, Snapchat-filter, horrible-indie-song-movie-video inspired face mask map tonight! It will be worthy of any Pinterest skincare board worth it’s salt. I promise.
UPDATE: Here's my face featuring Lush's Don't Look at Me Fresh Face Mask (for my most unbalanced and in-need-of-purification areas), Cosmetic Warrior everywhere that clogged pores quickly turn into whiteheads — GAG ME, I'M SORRY — which is right around my hair and jawline, and Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Exfoliating Mask on my nose and chin, the terrain on which my most furious clear skin battles are fought.