OK, I admit the post title sounds a bit spammy, but I've stumbled across a fantastic beauty buy which in this day and age is virtually free.
I was in New York the other week and spent hours gawping at all the drugstore beauty products that I can't get in the UK. Honestly, how do you girls in the States manage to sift through all those products without feeling overwhelmed??
I was in CVS, and picked up this sachet of Andrea Face Spa Revitalizing Peel-off Masque for just 99¢. I knew I couldn't use it myself because it contains glycolic acid, which my skin doesn't seem to like anymore (it brings my skin up in little bumps), but the concept was so interesting that I bought it anyway, with the intention of "treating" my boyfriend with a post-flight facial once we landed back in London.
The contents of the sachet was a generous amount of fine, white powder that looks and smells a lot like sherbet. Mmm tasty... but DO NOT put your nose too close to this stuff - God knows what it does to your insides if you inhale it. One of the more interesting ingredients in this mask is algin, which is derived from seaweed, and which forms a gelatinous gum when mixed with water.
The instructions were to mix the powder in a bowl or cup with 1-2 tablespoons of water (I used warm water) until the mixture held together without being runny. It looked like plaster of Paris at this point.
I spread the mixture all over my boyfriend's face, but had to work fast because it seemed to solidify quite quickly, and then then left him to read his latest copy of Private Eye for 15 minutes.
On removing the mask, it had turned into a thick, rubbery, latex-like layer, which peeled off easily where it had been applied thickly (like down the centre of the face). However, where it had been spread too thinly around the edges and his hairline, it had dried hard and couldn't be peeled off. I ended up removing those residual crusty bits with a wet muslin cloth which softened the substance again.
Underneath the mask, his skin looked softer, smoother and indeed "revitalised". I did look out for any pore-shaped gunk coming off with the mask, but didn't see anything... (not that the mask claims to work like a pore strip or anything, but I couldn't help but look).
However, it was the next morning when the results really showed. My boyfriend claimed to feel gritty bits come off when he was washing his face, and had decided that the mask must have had loosened these "bits" out of his face. I dismissed his conclusion with "pffft don't be silly, it can't have been the mask - I didn't see anything come off with it last night".
But on (very) close inspection of his face, his previously manly, clogged pores on and around his nose had completely disappeared, and where the area had looked a bit "holey" before, now looked completely smooth. I promise, I haven't exaggerated!
One week on, his pores are still looking clear...
So... I've told him to go into a CVS when he goes back to the States next week for work and buy as many of these little sachets as possible. It's for his own good.
The full ingredients of the Andrea Face Spa Revitalizing Peel-off Masque are:
Magnesium Carbonate, Diatomaceous Earth, Algin, Calcium Sulfate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
Update (18th June 2010): I ended up buying loads of these masques from www.sacredbeauty.com and forking out for the crazy shipping costs to get them from the US to the UK. A tip I have for those of you who are trying the mask for the first time - DON'T use hot water - it makes the mixture dry too quickly before you can mix it and you end up with a lumpy cottage cheese mess (impossible to spread on the face) instead of a smooth paste!