Inke’s Beauty Corner: Mask from Hell and What I Learned

Beauty | 28.4.2019 | Inke

Inke’s Beauty Corner is excited to put natural cosmetics to the test, through trial and error.

This post was originally meant to turn out totally different. You see, who would want to fail on purpose, change their mind or get an allergic reaction? Let me spell that out: an allergic reaction just before a long-awaited gala night?

Let me explain. Every week, I send Katja probably about five messages on Instagram (and every other channel for that matter) about interesting products or ranges I’ve come across. As I’ve confessed before, so-called ”Instagram natural cosmetics ranges” seem to appeal to my sense of aesthetics, getting me to easily loosen my purse strings. These insta-friendly ranges abound and can be put in at least three categories. There are the playful, pastel-coloured cuties designed for millennials. Then there are the meticulously designed monochrome, minimalistic ranges. Thirdly, there are the artisanal, boho luxe ranges usually hand-mixed in California that come with a story. Usually the founders of artisanal ranges have gone through some type of revival or life change, channelled their energy into their own label, and now mix their organic, simple (but super expensive considering the ingredients) cosmetic cocktails in their tiny little workshops.

Katja and I get easily excited about all sorts of lotions and potions, but the somewhat homely artisanal ranges described above have received mixed opinions in our discussions. In addition to the product and brand promise, I’m attracted to the brand, image and story, whereas Katja gets her kicks from the technical formula, quality and efficiency of ingredients, and expertise behind the brand. Yes, of course the potency and formula are important to me as well, but I do confess to often using products that primarily bring pure pleasure. They don’t usually harm my skin or health, and although they may not be miracle-making, it’s fun, rewarding and relaxing to play around and smear them on.

In light of this little intro, you might not be surprised that when I came across the honey and coconut mask in the Earth Tu Face boho luxe range on Net-A-Porter’s beauty section with its focus on luxury cosmetics, I suggested a product test to Katja.

Yep, this is luxury, I thought. With latest technology, thorough research and cutting-edge ingredients at our fingertips, true luxury for people who have tried everything is getting back to the roots and using somewhat homely products prepared in small batches.

In my mind, the Earth Tu Face mask could perfectly demonstrate my opinion. Honey + Coconut Mask – it even sounds like dessert! And it could be, as all the product contains is organic honey, organic virgin coconut oil, organic lavender oil and rose and lavender petals from an organic garden. The jar of organic garden costs a filthy 60 euros per 30 millilitres, but spare me from telling me what an idiot I was to fall for the trap. You see, it was supposed to be neo-luxury. Part of the sense of luxury surely derived from the product being so over-priced.

The first time I tested the product, I had nothing to complain about. I took a teaspoonful of the product onto my fingertips – from the surface of the jar I realize in hindsight – and smeared it onto my face. In my honey-scented bubble, I thought about how I’d write about this luxurious, quality-conscious, exclusive chic downshifting and the appreciation of all things authentic.

After this perfectly good experience, I fell for my pet peeve – skimping on a product I feel is too posh for everyday use. It’s the reason I shouldn’t even buy products that are particularly expensive – and natural cosmetics don’t exactly improve with age. A month or two later, I felt I had a good enough reason to reach out for my luxury jar. I was heading for a work-related advertising awards gala, where wine flows and people gather in their finest. Surely nothing could quite raise the festive spirit like a luxurious, face and mind-illuminating honey mask?

Before applying the mask, I noticed the petals had sunk to the bottom of the jar. The honey seemed grainier, but I didn’t think twice. I gave it a little stir, smeared on a thick layer, and curled on the sofa to watch a series, happy that for once I had a whole free day to get ready in peace.

Twenty minutes later, I screamed every swear word I know in front of the bathroom mirror –I’m sure I even invented some new ones. I rinsed off the mask and my face was covered in red, raised spots. My entire face, and part of my neck. The whole face ­– and I’d have to leave in three hours.

I didn’t know what else to do than give Katja a call for some advice on how to calm my skin into gala shape, as fast as hell. Luckily my saving angel picked up. She told me to mix a calming clay mask from white clay, add a few drops of facial oil and say a few tearful prayers while the mask took effect. (Okay, the last piece of advice may have been my own addition, but at this point I needed every little bit of help I could get.)

A race against time began, but the calming clay mask did manage to do the trick in quelling the worst facial fire already during the first fifteen minutes. Desperation leads to desperate measures, and I followed by adding about an inch of a French pharmacy cream mainly meant for burns, which is a far cry from natural (and probably not even recommended for this purpose and used this way. Just makes one think how quickly I was ready to take another risk that could have potentially led to an even bigger disaster?!)

I waited for a while, wiped and washed the cream off my face and realized what was left could be covered up with (plenty of gala) makeup. I primed my skin with super-trusty, high-quality Laponie of Scandinavia products* suitable for sensitive skin and a pleasure for others as well. I slapped on plenty of spray-on toner and hydrating cream feeling thankful that these genius products existed – right there in my bathroom cabinet. Another inch of foundation and various colour effects, and as if by miracle, I was gala ready.

But what was the allergic reaction about? I wish I knew! Perhaps the honey in the mask had become granulated due to sunny, balmy California being a better habitat for the mask than my cabinet drawer in Helsinki. Perhaps the grainy crystals had risen to the surface after I mixed it and then irritated my skin? Or maybe the pollen season had made my skin extra sensitive and the honey and some other ingredient in the mask resulted in an allergic reaction. Whatever the case, I recommend this product as a foot mask at most ­– or enjoyed on a piece of toast. Doesn’t a spread with honey, coconut oil, rose and lavender sound like the perfect addition to a brunch? The wisest choice would be to spend your money on something else.

Neo-luxury… Oh dear. I think I’ll be taking a break from the small artisanal batches for a while and diverting my interest to premium-quality natural cosmetics prepared meticulously with latest technology. You can of course never really tell what will bring on an allergic reaction and why – a mask like this may be a dream-come-true for someone else, and I could have reacted to some totally different type of product. But if there’s one thing that I learned, it’s that only use products you know are 100% suitable for your skin before going somewhere important – and test anything else on a small area, especially if your skin is prone to react at times. At least that’s what I’ll be doing from now on!

Anyone else out there who has experienced an allergic reaction to a cosmetic product or fallen prey for something over-priced like I did?

Earth Tu Face Honey + Coconut Mask, 60 € / 30 ml,

*) Laponie of Skincaren products received for testing – and will be staying in use!

Translation Rebecca Watson