Activated charcoal has become a very trendy ingredient in the beauty world. From teeth whitening to pore cleansing, many companies are using activated charcoal in their products. Some people are even taking it upon themselves to create DIY beauty treatments using activated charcoal. So why all the fuss? Charcoal which goes through a special heating process becomes "activated" meaning it's more porous and can therefore absorb up to twice its weight. So why is this good for our skin? Activated charcoal can absorb excess oil and sebum that can clog pores and cause blemishes. This results in a clear and healthy complexion with smaller looking pores!
Now that you know why activated charcoal is all the rage right now, let's do a beauty breakdown of two masks currently on the market: Mary Kay's Clear Proof Deep-Cleansing Charcoal Mask, and Clinique's Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask.
You may be thinking, "This page is called Beauty on a Budget, why are you talking about more expensive brands like Clinique and Mary Kay?" A specialty skincare product such as a face mask isn't something you use everyday, so why not really pamper yourself with a higher quality product? Remember, skin is your body's first line of defense and your largest organ!
Both companies claim similar benefits including; pore purifying/cleansing, oil absorption, shine reduction, clearer skin, and refined/minimized appearance of pores. Both masks are applied using the same process; apply to clean skin, leave on until dry (~10 minutes), rinse off, and use a few times per week. Both brands claim their masks are dermatologist-tested and suitable for all skin types. Now let's talk price: Clinique's mask retails at $27.00 for 3.4 oz (100mL) of product, while Mary Kay's mask retails at $24.00 for 4 oz (118 mL) of product.
So other than the price (Clinique $7.94/oz vs. Mary Kay $6/oz), are there really any differences between these two products? Let's take a look at the ingredients which I've listed below for your convenience:
Water, Kaolin, Butylene Glycol, Bentonite, Montmorillonite, Polysorbate 20, PEG-100 Stearate, Glycerin, Charcoal Powder, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Caffeine, Lecithin, Sucrose, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Simethicone, Sorbitan Laurate, PEG-150 Distearate, Hexylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Galactoarabinan, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77499)
Water, Kaolin, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Bentonite, Charcoal Powder, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Leaf Extract, Vegetable Amino Acids, Bambusa Vulgaris Shoot Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Bisabolol, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Extract, Mentha Viridis Leaf (Spearmint) Extract, Butylene Glycol, Salicylic Acid, Triethanolamine, Triethyl Citrate, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Polysorbate 80, Cellulose Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Potassium Sorbate, Iron Oxides
You can see many of the ingredients are either the same or very similar in both products. For example, caffeine found in the Clinique mask, and bisabolol found in the Mary Kay mask are both used to prevent skin from flaking. However, there are a few notable differences. Mary Kay's version contains salicylic acid which is an ingredient found in many acne treatments. Mary Kay also includes rosemary leaf extract which not only helps the product smell amazing, but also acts as an antioxidant and antimicrobial agent. If you'd like to explore the different ingredients more, I've included a table with the ingredients and their purpose(s) below along with the resources I used to get this information.
Now that you have the facts about each mask, I'll tell you what I thought about the two products. Below I have pictures after I freshly applied each mask, and once they've dried.
So how did I feel each mask worked? Right off the bat, the Mary Kay version had a better scent which made the whole masking experience more enjoyable to me. It also seemed to have a thicker consistency than the Clinique mask, and there was a noticeable difference between the two brands once the mask dried. The Clinique mask felt like it was just affecting the surface layer of skin, and it felt similar to other clay based masks I've used in the past. Overall, it was underwhelming. The Mary Kay mask really absorbed excess oil from my pores, and you could see it happening. The pores where I tend to be more oily are darker, while areas where there wasn't anything to absorb are lighter. In conclusion, if you're looking for a mask to help with excess oil go with the Mary Kay charcoal mask. It's less money for more product, and it delivers visible results. If you want a clay mask for other reasons, I still wouldn't recommend the Clinique charcoal mask. There are tons of masks on the market at a variety of price points, and for the price this mask did not impress me.
Mary Kay inTouch (consultant access only)
I've never been good at keeping a journal, but I've always wanted to. I hope you enjoy my sporadic posts about beauty, fitness/health, and various other topics.