It's gonna get sappy up in here.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I'm a bit hopeless at all those extra "pampering" aspects of the beauty world, barely being able to keep up with the basics. Well since then I've tentatively dipped my toe into body lotions, tried a spray tan (successful!) and most recently, had fun with a face mask.
The mask in question was an Intensive Replumping Moisture Mask from Japanese brand Astalift (£35 for a set of 4, cultbeauty.co.uk) which promised to give me firmer, more radiant looking skin. On the rare occasions I have had a facial my skin has always felt more... bouncy? shiny? These aren't terribly inspiring adjectives but there's definitely a boost which leaves skin looking really good. I was curious to see if an at-home treatment could replicate that.
The Astalift mask is described as being “perfect for those with dull, lack-lustre complexions” and “an instant fix for when you’re looking a little grey” – yep and yep. Its powerful active ingredients have been microionised – made super-tiny – so they can penetrate deep into the skin.
All of which is very encouraging, but weirdly what I love most about this brand is it’s from the makers of Fujifilm, so they take the same technology that’s used to stop delicate camera film from degrading and apply it to your face – awesome! I love a bit of mind-boggling techno-wizardry in my beauty products.
I dutifully opened the packet and pulled out the instructions and two sealed sachets. These turned out to contain two floppy, serum-soaked sheets - one for the lower and one for the upper face. I carefully plastered the first sheet across my mouth and jaw, stretching and pushing it until it comfortably covered the lower half of my face.
There was a hole to breathe through, thank goodness (I always feel claustrophobic when they smother you in gauze during a facial and have to retreat to my 'happy place' until that bit's over). Then I slapped the second mask around my eyes and forehead. It was comically inadequate at coping with my 'strong' nose and refused to fit neatly around it.
I hung around for ten minutes waiting for the masks to do their thing while simultaneously trying to take a non-hideous selfie. That was impossible so you're just going to have to use your imagination. All I'm saying is this is definitely one to do when you're home alone to avoid onlookers laughing hysterically/recoiling in horror. Two words: Hannibal Lecter.
So I peeled off the sheets and plopped them in the sink, and then massaged the remaining serum into my skin. This felt lovely and nourishing and just the sort of thing a proper therapist would do to you during a 'real' facial. There was no stinging or tingling which I sometimes get, so that was good. My skin had been looking quite dry and dull (apart from the temporary lift given to it by the spray tan, which is starting to fade now.)
The juicy stuff (sorry) in the sheets contains Astaxanthin - Astalift’s signature super-antioxidant - plus Squalane and hydrolysed Collagen, all of which are meant to give sluggish skin a boost, or as I like to think of it, a “pull your socks up” pep talk. In the long term, the ingredients are also meant to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles which, now I’m in my thirties, I suppose I should start taking a bit more seriously.
For now though, I was just pleased that when I woke up the morning after using the mask, my skin wasn’t its usual papery, taught self, but actually felt nicely soft, even moisturised before I put my moisturiser on.
So now I think I will add a weekly face mask to my slacker routine, but what I’d like to try next is a DIY mask and so I’m asking all of you, have you got any good recipes? I’ll try them, I promise!