Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

Greetings, friends! I have another review for you today. Today I'll be talking about the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask. You might have seen it in my Total Beauty Mystery Collection for June 2013 unboxing (aka The Total Crapbox), but like many products that I receive, they go into the stash until I'm ready to take them out and give them a good, solid try. I used a skincare regimen from Boscia awhile back, so I was excited to try this mask. Without further ado, let's get on to the review! 

About BOSCIA + Luminizing Black Mask

Boscia calls themselves "the leader in botanical science." They use a lot of plant ingredients, such as jojoba, eucalyptus, and rosemary. In some cases that's great, and in other cases, not so much. Ingredients like jojoba are moisturizing and good for the skin, but others (like eucalyptus and rosemary) can be irritating. That makes sense, because unlike synthetic products which are specifically made to go on the skin, plant life does not grow for the sole purpose of being used on our faces. Plants do their own thing, and sometimes they have strong fragrances or can be harsh, so they're not always the best thing to use in my opinion. "All natural" does not equal" better," as we sometimes believe. But I think Boscia's mission statement is an interesting approach (kind of like Boots Botanics) and marketing-wise, biddies love "all-natural" claims. 

Going along with their all-natural approach, Boscia also doesn't believe in using preservatives. They believe that preservatives don't add to the skincare benefit at all, but rather just extend the shelf-life. I suppose that's true, but if I'm paying $30+ for a product, I want to be able to use the whole thing without it expiring. Granted, all preservatives are not created equal, but they still don't make or break a product (I went on a rant about why parabens aren't so bad here). The way I see it, preservatives help my products last longer, so they feel more like an investment. Like a good pair of shoes. Or a handbag. You see where I'm going with this. 

Their Black Collection is targeted at mattifying shine and minimizing pores. They claim it's for all skin types, but it sounds like the kind of thing that's primarily for oily-skinned folk. This line, along with the mask, also contains a cleanser, a treatment (to refine pores), and a gel moisturizer. 

This product claims to:
  • help clear up skin
  • minimize the appearance of pores (which I appreciate, since some companies will claim that their products actually shrink your pores, which isn't possible because you were genetically born with a certain pore size and you can't change that)
  • remove dirt and impurities
  • absorb excess oil
  • give you a "healthy, glowing complexion"
  • give immediate and long-term results as you use it over time
Directions: Apply a thick, opaque, even layer to clean, dry skin. Avoid eye area, eyebrows, hairline and lips. Leave on for 30 minutes or until completely dry. Gently peel off mask from outer edges and rinse off any residue. Follow with moisturizer. Use once or twice a week.

Ingredients of BOSCIA Luminizing Black Mask:
Water, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Glycereth-26, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Montmorillonite, Acrylates Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Acrylates/Palmeth-25 Acrylate Copolymer, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Pinus Pinaster Bark/Bud Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus Citriodora Oil, Xanthan Gum, Iron Oxides (C.I. 77499).

Boscia is good about listing what their all-star ingredients do on the product page, but let's talk about what all of this really means.  

Polyvinyl Alcohol - The first ingredient after water is alcohol. You see this kind in a lot in peel-off masks. This can be potentially irritating, but thankfully this mask contains glycerin (below) to help compensate for the drying effect it can have on skin. Meh. I'm ranking this in the Bad Stuff category.

Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel) - I don't know why people say witch hazel is good for the skin. Yes, it has antioxidants, but I've always found it to be quite drying. Usually witch hazel water contains alcohol, which could explain the dryness, but I don't know what it's in this batch of witch hazel that they used so I can't say for sure.  Bad Stuff

Glycerin - This is an emulsifier, and can be quite moisturizing. With the Polyvinyl Alcohol, its sole purpose is to offset how drying it is. This mask also contains Pentylene Glycol and Glycereth-26, which basically do the same thing.  Good Stuff (but would be better if we could get the full hydrating effect of it)

Montmorillonite - Boscia mentions this on their website as one of the all-star ingredients. This is a type of clay that is mixed from bentonite (found in a lot of clay masks) and other sediments, and like other clays, it helps absorb oil and is good for oily skin and active breakouts. I have a feeling they added the iron oxide (below) for color because otherwise, this would look like a dirty brown color (from the sediments). Good Stuff

Polysorbate 20 - A polysorbate, aka cleansing agents that usually come from coconuts. The fatty acids in coconuts are really good for the skin. Good Stuff

Honeysuckle Flower Extract - An anti-inflammatory. Also provides antioxidants. Yay, nature! Good Stuff

Ascorbyl Glucoside - Like Boscia states, this is Vitamin C! More specifically, this is Vitamin C with glucose (after all, it says glucoside). Vitamin C is known to brighten skin, so people with dark spots or hyper-pigmentation tend to look for this.  Good Stuff

Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract -Jojoba is moisturizing! It's also soothing and contains antioxidants. Good Stuff

Pinus Pinaster Bark/Bud Extract - I've never heard of this, and I can't find much about it anywhere else, but according to Boscia it improves skin elasticity and adds hydration. I always prefer to get an unbiased second opinion, though. Good Stuff?

Rosemary Leaf Oil - Boscia brags about this, so I looked elsewhere and apparently the risks can outweigh the benefits of the antioxidants. This can be irritating, not only due to the fragrance but also the nature of rosemary oil itself. Bad Stuff

Eucalyptus Oil - Like rosemary oil, the cons outweigh the pros. Boscia talks about the antibacterial properties (and it's also probably there because they don't use preservatives) but this can be potentially irritating due to the strong fragrance and due to the general chemical makeup of it. Bad Stuff

Iron Oxides - Iron is used for coloring in cosmetics and nail polishes. It doesn't have any impact on the product itself, but they probably added it because the clay would make it look like a disgusting, dirty brown otherwise. 

For more information on these ingredients, check out Paula's Choice's Beautypedia! It's the best. I use it to look up ingredients I've never seen before. She doesn't have everything (ex. the pine bark extract) but she does have a lot! 

Price and Availability: 

2.8oz - Boscia [$34], Sephora [$34], Amazon [$38.50+S&H]

My Experience: 

I used this mask four times (twice all over my face and twice only in my T-Zone) on four different weeks. Here are my thoughts on it: 

* For reference, My skin type dry-combination. My T-zone can be a little oily in the summer but my cheeks go from dry to super dry in the winter.

The Packaging: 

This mask comes in a dark tube, which is great for keeping the ingredients stable for longer. I guess since Boscia figured they weren't going to use preservatives, the least they could do was make the packaging sanitary and prevent any light/air from getting in. Well done! 

The Stuff Inside: 

The texture is hard to describe, and for lack of better wording, it is a "thick black goop." I can't even tell you in more concise words, it just feels like goop. Black, thick, dense, very tacky (they say not to get it in your eyebrows or hairline for a reason!). It's just the kind of texture I think of when someone says "goop." Without the iron oxide, it probably would have been a dirty-looking brown color. For some reason, despite the name, I was still surprised that it was such an opaque black color.  

Also worth mentioning: this mask smells just like sushi. More specifically, seaweed. It probably took me at least 10 minutes to identify the scent, but it smells (and sort of looks) like seaweed. I have no idea where the scent comes from, since there's nothing like it in the ingredients. It has eucalyptus and rosemary, but not seaweed. It wasn't a bad smell, and I didn't have it open for an long time so it couldn't have been expired.

Fun fact - When my roommates saw me applying this for the first time, I definitely got some weirded-out looks. It's just not something they were expecting. I should have included this in my Lazy Girl's Guide to Halloween! It's a lot more fun than any of my other suggestions! 

Anyway, I tested this mask both all over my face and just my T-zone. They're not kidding when they tell you to put a thick layer of this mask on. You really have to go to town when applying it. If it's applied too thin, you won't get a thick enough surface to physically peel off. They're also not kidding when they tell you to steer clear of your hairline and eyebrows, which is hard when your forehead is one of the main spots you want to cover.

For funsies, here is an unflattering picture of me wearing this mask. This is right when I first applied it, so it's still shiny on my skin (it hasn't dried yet). 

After the thirty minutes was up and it was indeed all dry, I began the peeling process as stated in the directions. You really want to take your time with this, for two reasons 1) You skin will hate you if you rip this off like a band-aid, and 2) if you're not gentle enough, it will rip the mask, (so instead of taking off one big piece, you'll be picking off tiny black flakes for hours). If you just take your time, you can get off most of it in one foul swoop. I finally mastered it on application #4. 

the face of victory
After peeling most of it off, I washed off all of the remaining black bits (gently) with a washcloth. When using this on my whole face, my skin felt super tight, like I had just stripped it of all its happiness and glory (and oils), so I quickly followed up with a moisturizer. It's unfortunate that even with all of the moisturizing ingredients to counteract the alcohol, my skin still felt dry. 

I didn't notice that much of a difference when looking in the mirror. Boscia advertises that there are not only long-term effects, but immediate effects to using this mask, but I didn't notice many of them. One good thing I can say about it is that my combination skin has a generally rough texture, and after using this my skin was certainly smoother. However, it could be that I just exfoliated by peeling off the mask and revealing a new layer of skin. I unpeeled this mask as gently as humanly possible, but the fact of the matter is you're still trying to peel something sticky off of your skin (like a band-aid). I think it might have also removed some of my super soft "peach fuzz" hairs on my cheeks, so I guess if you guys have that and it bothers you, this is the mask for you. When I used this on my whole face, my cheeks felt really stripped for a few days afterwards. My T-zone is more resilient, and I had less irritation when just applying this just in my T-Zone. This is probably because I tend to be normal in my T-Zone (though riddled with blackheads) and dry on my cheeks. 

Also, just a note from personal experience: this mask should be the "roughest" thing you do to your skin that night. One time after I used this, I saw that I had some dead skin/miscellaneous stuff around my nose, so I went in with a 2% BHA liquid exfoliant to remove it, and WOW did that hurt! Needless to say, it was a bad idea and my skin was not pleased with me for a few days. After you use this mask, you should slap on your moisturizer and be done with it.

The Verdict: 

  • Not too hard to peel off (with some practice)
  • Makes skin smoother
  • You can scare your friends
  • Removed oil (though whether it was "excess oil" or not is up for debate)
  • Might be a little painful to peel off
  • Could be drying to some
  • Could be irritating to those with sensitive skin
  • Skin didn't really look brightened/glowing in immediate use
  • Pain in the butt trying to get this out of your eyebrows/hairline
  • Didn't notice a real difference in amount of blackheads or pore size

I can't remark on the long-term effects, since I only used this product four times (I wasn't about to buy the full-size of a product that didn't work on me). As someone with combination-dry and sensitive skin, I did not like this product. If your skin is dry, prone to irritation, or is sensitive, I would stay far away. The ingredients list has both good points and bad points, but it could potentially be worth checking out if you have oily skin (the oilier, the better!) and a lot of active acne breakouts. If you're going to try it, I recommend scoring a sample in a kit or something, so that if it doesn't agree with your skin, you didn't spend $34 on a big tube of it.

What's your favorite face mask? I need suggestions! 

Let's be friends! 

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Disclaimer: I bought the Total Crapbox with my own money, unfortunately. Not sponsored or affiliated with any mentioned brands. All thoughts are my own. I used Beautypedia to research some ingredients because Paula Begoun is my favorite human being.