Beauty – Foil Proof

Some of the best things come in the tiniest packages.

On my quest for keeping things simple and especially for travelling, here are two new products you should know about.estee3 - Copy


No offense to the rest of the world, but one thing is abundantly clear: Korean women have the beauty game on lock. Recognizing this, heritage beauty brand Estée Lauder is unleashing its shiny new “Iron Man” mask in Korea a month early as a market test drive.

The metallic, mask-selfie-worthy foil mask—which boasts a dual matrix (yes, MATRIX) technology that locks in the brand’s beloved Advanced Night Repair super serum—is already receiving rave reviews from discerning K-beauty experts. Let the countdown begin.

Coming soon to a store near you:


Kleenex, yes as in the tissue brand, is looking to tend to your face beyond your sniffly nose with a new facial cleansing line. The item women can’t wait to get their hands on? The exfoliating cushions, which in my mind are as lazy-girl-friendly as makeup wipes. With their dual-sided cushions, the sizable rounds gently buff away dead skin and debris, leaving skin smooth, polished, and squeaky clean in the process.

Cleaning, exfoliating and masking your face just got a whole lot easier and a lot more packable.

Source: Marie Claire Magazine


Beauty: war of the Sheet Masks

Once a week I have a strong urge to cover my face with a sheetA thin, wet paper sheet that I pull out of a plastic container that fits snugly over my face with holes cut out so that I can still see and breathe. And if they’re good enough for the lady…

photo via Lady Gaga / Instagram
photo via Lady Gaga / Instagram

A friend brought a tub of them back for me from Japan (along with some oil absorbing rice paper tissues and a few paper thin umbrellas) and all I can tell you is that it has Coenzyme Q10 because all the rest of the writing is in Japanese.  And I’m hooked! 

Now we should talk about Korean sheet masks because South Korea has churned out countless sheet masks that are changing the beauty game in a big way. If Paris is known for perfume, South Korea might just be known for the fanatic devotion to skincare, with 10-step routines being just a matter of course.  I’m only six steps behind.  Sheet masks are a BIG, BIG DEAL!

You’ve seen a wall of them at Sephora.  Of all the options, it’s hard to tell which one’s going to do exactly what, mostly because, well, they’re in Korean, so we picked five of the best out there, all locally sourced from NYC’s Koreatown, and broke it down for y’all. Sheet up, people. Don’t be scared.

Most “Oh Cool” Idea sheet2

TonyMoly Rice Mask Sheet 

The gimmick here is that the mask itself isn’t cotton or paper–it’s actual rice paper. The kind you delight to see stretched out over your late-night Seamless spring rolls. The kind you douse in peanut sauce. And, if you’ve ever bought them yourself (unlimited rolls 24/7!) you know that they undergo rapid change from pantry to plate — starting out crusty and brittle, then, after a few minutes in liquid, soft, jellyfish-like, rollable (but also, like using long stretches of tape), is liable to twist up and stick to itself. Unlike other masks, this one doesn’t come already marinated in essence–the liquid is in a separate pouch, which you dump onto the rice paper three minutes before impact with your face. It’s good, healthy, interactive, multi-step fun. The rice paper gels up and sticks to skin better than many of its cotton counterparts. The serum’s pretty strongly scented, making it hard to eat my quinoa-and-soy-sauce without also getting a cross-breeze of gardenia in there. But the effects were undeniable–a plumped-up deep nourishment that, even though I didn’t sleep in it, made my skin look better well into the next day. Five stars.

Best Target-Area Mask sheet3

Glam Rock Abracadabra Mask

This isn’t the full-face horror show sheet mask you’re used to–this one’s actually (stand by to be totally shocked) got a little who-is-that-masked-stranger sex appeal. It’s an eye mask, set in the shape of a good masquerade-meets-Zorrotype mask, with little lacy designs festooning its little jellyfish-y body. Good for spot-treating your world-weary eyes that have seen too much banditry or world-saving the night before. If you don’t want to commit to the whole shebang of a sheet mask, slap one of these on and your eyebags deflate, puffiness is un-puffed, and the whole area is blessed and forgiven, so you never have to reveal your true identity as a Secretly Hungover Person living unknown amongst an unsuspecting office.

Best All-Around Nourishing sheet4Leaders Coconut Gel Mask with Broccoli 

The Leaders brand is, as my K-beauty junkie friend describes it, “the Korean Clinique,” highly dermatologically trustworthy with like little icons of beakers on the back of packaging. This is the thickest of the masks here–not a strip of saturated cotton but a full-face-adhering slab of gel, like a Dr. Scholl’s sole insert for your face. It gloms on and really stays put–you can walk around, do chores (lol throwback–remember chores?!) and get a glass of water (one imagines coconut is suggested). No cruciferous odor detected, but healthy benefits were nonetheless conferred. This mask is so intensely nourishing that you get this fully saturated face, totally drunken with hydration. The next morning was the best–my forehead lines reduced (for the time being), general tone evener, skin texture firm and supple to the touch. Are you gellin’?

Best In Claysheet5TonyMoly Egg Pore Tightening Pack Mask

Clay masks do not, that I’ve seen, come in sheet form. So if you want pore-tightening and that sense of all manner of impurity being sucked out of your skin by precision-placed mini vortexes, this is the mask for you. In the (admittedly sort of adorable) container, the kaolin-based formula starts out as a fluffy mousse, smears on like a cream, and dries and tightens like a good clay mask should. It doesn’t flake off, but sort of balls up on your face when it can tighten no more. No Queen Helene like-the-deserts-miss-the-rain cracked earth face here. You’ll have skin that’s cleaned out and calmed down, not further reddened and parched. Give it a shot on oily, black- or white-heady spots. Out with the old, in with the.egg.

Best In Showsheet6Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack 

Arguably the Gold Standard of Korean sheet masks. It feels light, has no heavy fragrance, and is jam-packed with tiny-creature ingredients like snail secretion and bee venom, floating in a solvent of super-soothing camellia sinensis leaf extract (tea, sort of) and aloe juice. Peel it off in front of mirror and you can almost hear that chorus-of-angels note that happens in movies when a minor miracle occurs or John Stamos enters the frame (“Ahhhhhh!”). Count on this mask for instant skin-brightening and -soothing effects. If you’re planning on wearing anything red and don’t want your face to match, do this first. With the mask’s heavy load of skin-brightening arbutin, one could imagine one’s freckles lightening over time with continued use, although there’s also a strong argument to be made for being proud of your adorable freckles. Plus, it’s on the cheaper side too, even for sheet masks. Stock up–go crazy.  

They’re really cheap, they do the trick but admittedly the above one makes me want to gaga!

Source: for 5 best By Trace Barnhill for

Beauty biz – benefits of Masking it

Girl witn facial mask and cucumber on her eyesSKINCARE MASKS provide some of the rewards of a salon/spa facial right at home. mask3

I try to work one into my skincare routine –  once a week, usually on a weekend and only when I’m pretty sure no one will show up at my door.  I don’t want to scare anyone wearing my full face (with cutouts for eyes & nostrils) Japanese tissue mask, or the black clay one or the blue algae. Even the dog gets scared and hides.

Using a mask is one of the steps of a good skin care regimen and they work especially when you first exfoliate.  A mask blankets the skin helping the active ingredients penetrate.  Depending on which type you use it can draw impurities from the skin and eliminate dead skin cells (yuck) or tighten and tone.

Masks are applied to cleansed skin for 10 to 20 minutes, although the duration can be shorter or longer; some hydrating masks can also be used as an intensive overnight treatment. They generally fall into these categories:

Dead Sea Scrub & MaskCLAY/MUD MASKS – these use kaolin clay, a natural component in soil, or mud from the dead sea.  They absorb oil which draws out impurities and dirt that can make pores look more noticeable, and for removing dead skin cells. These masks might be targeted to oily T-zones or acne-prone skin, and some contain acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid.  I plaster Ahava dead sea mud from Israel on my nose and chin – it dries quickly to soak up oil.

HYDRATING MASKS – these tend to soothe, nourish and, as their name implies, super-moisturize.  I like Clarins “Hydra-Quench” or Origins “Drink-Up.”Clarins hydrating mask

mask1FIRMING and ANTI-AGING MASKS – these deal with skin in need of a reboot.  Dior Capture Totale One Essential Mask is a melt-into-skin pink gel which bills itself as an “ultra-detox” that addresses wrinkles and loss of firmness.  Sounds amazing but I haven’t tried it.

SLEEPING MASKS – these are growing worldwide.  You apply them at night before sleep.  It’s for intense hydration.  Might be better using them for winter once in a while.  Nighttime is when the skin is rested and regeneration is at its peak so you wake up to skin that’s fresher, more hydrated. One to try: Vichy Aqualia Thermal Night Spa features hyaluronic acid, Vichy thermal spa water, aquabioryl (a hydration booster) and plant oils. mask4


Remember no matter which one you choose – follow instructions then sit back, relax and enjoy the benefits.

Which ones do you use?

Beautiful Skin – Face Masks

face mask The natural next step to exfoliation which was covered last week, is putting on a  FACE MASK.  Face masks are an excellent way to help maintain beautiful skin.  Once to twice a week is enough.  Now to figure out which one works for our skin type and then decide  what to invest in.

Clarins hydrating mask
Clarins Hydra Quench Cream Mask

Our skin can change depending on the season so you might be more oily in summer and drier in winter. Sometimes we need something to calm our skin rather than hydrate it.  I alternate using  a hydrating cream mask from Clarins or Origins “drink up” coupled with Ahava dead sea mud mask for the t-zone area.  I also stole a little have some dead sea mud from when I  floated like jelly in the Dead Sea itself.  Lasts forever.  What an experience!

Ahava Dead Sea Scrub and MASK
Ahava Dead Sea Scrub and MASK

Love the Japanese ultrafine sheet masks by Puresa with CoQ10. They come in an orange kleenex-style box & each mask you pull out completely fits over and adheres to your face with holes cut out for eyes + nose.  Try not to scare anyone who sees you though.

TIP:  if the mask says to leave it on for 10 minutes, leave it on for 10 minutes – not 20.  It won’t make your skin nicer by leaving it on longer.  Trust me on this.

Here are a few starters to help:  

1 Dry & Sensitive Skin

A hydrating mask is great for dry or sensitive skin. Opt for a cream formula (rather than a clay or exfoliating mask) to replenish your skin’s hydration. You want to rejuvenate and protect your skin rather than dry it out or inflame it with too much scrubbing. A “DIY” recipe of Greek yogurt and a teaspoon of honey is fantastic for dry skin. Yogurt also contains enzymes, so it works to get rid of any flaky dead skin. The soothing remedy will also help to maintain your skin’s natural oils.

Try – Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Facial Mask

2 Acne-Prone Skin

If you want to deep clean your pores, start with a clay or gel mask. You can even add oil into a gel mask for double the impact! Using facial oil as a mask is fantastic for acne-prone or oily skin. Fighting oil with oil will actually re-balance your sebaceous glands and help heal your spots. It’s extremely important to re-balance the natural oils within your skin. By drying out your face too much your skin will make even more oil to compensate, so you end up with more clogged pores than you had to start with!

Try – Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Cleansing Mask

3 Oily Skin

A clay or exfoliating mask is perfect for oily skin, as it works to exfoliate and draw impurities out of the skin. The minerals and vitamins will leave your face feeling soft and supple but will dry it out a little, so finish with a hydrating mask to replenish moisture and restore your skin’s balance. You want to re-hydrate your skin and heal it.

Try – Alba Botanica Natural Even Advanced Deep Sea Facial Mask

4 Combination Skin

origins drink up

This is me.  Combination skin should be addressed in separate parts. There can be different skin types all over your face, so treat each area accordingly. Apply a clay mask to your T-zone (Ahava is excellent) if it’s oily, and a hydrating mask—like the homemade yogurt concoction or a bought one (like Clarins or Origins) to the rest of your face.  Another good at-home version is to mash up some pineapple and mix it with yogurt. The natural enzymes in fruits such as pineapple and papaya are excellent at removing dead skin cells.

Try – Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub in conjunction with the above.

What would you recommend?