Volunteer writer, Christabel Stevens, brings us this lovely and funny review of the Nip + Fab bubble mask.
As summer approaches, you might find yourself staring into the mirror and wishing there was a quick fix for the dullness and blemishes that seem to blight our skin around this time of year. Whether it be overindulgence in stodgy, cheese-based meals eaten to ward off the blues; too many glasses of wine, or even the weather itself- it is undeniable that skin takes a battering.
Looking bad is not an option, obviously. There are parties to go to and selfies to snap so, I decided to take action and treat my skin to a face mask.
Now, beauty lovers will know that there has been something of a second wave in the world of face masks over the last few years. Face masks used to involve daubing your face with an astringent gel which then dried into a stretchy, gluey mess. Sure, they were fun to peel off in one go, like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but I can’t recall them actually doing anything apart from sticking to one’s eyebrows. Face masks were more a fun ‘girls’ night in’ activity than a serious beauty item.
Before the mask
Now, however, there are a range of new-generation face masks on the market which are vying to join your regular beauty regime. The mask trend has joined us from Korea, where several-step beauty regimes are the norm, and masks have long been used for refreshing tired skin. YouTubers such as Joan Kim popularised the Korean-style ‘sheet mask’, with Joan even calling them the ‘one-night-stand of skincare’. Big beauty brands such as Garnier, Soap & Glory and Origins hopped on the trend, each offering their own take on the sheet mask.
Being a fan of their Extreme Night Glycolic Peel pads, I was very keen to try the sheet mask offering from Nip + Fab. The ‘Glycolic Fix Bubble Mask Extreme’. It sounded sufficiently hardcore and it claimed to be ‘charcoal-infused’, as though I was supposed to know whether that were a good or bad thing. It was priced at £4.12 in Boots, reduced from £5.50. This is a far cry from the 89p I remember paying for Boots face masks when I was a teen, but this mask’s packaging talked a good game, and I was optimistic about the results.
The mask claims to “smooth and retexture skin, lifting away impurities and dead skin cells.” It has a dose of 2% glycolic acid which is actually weaker than the night pads, but the mask is supposed to be left on for 10 minutes, which gives it plenty of time to work its tingly magic.
I peeled open the sachet. The first thing I noticed was that the mask was sodden, and my initial instinct was to give it a good wringing out. But of course, the active ingredients are impregnated into the fibres of the mask so they can penetrate your skin, so I had to resist my impulse.
I applied the mask, with some difficulty, onto my freshly cleansed face.
I looked in the mirror and gasped in horror. I looked like Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Please make sure you brief your flatmates in advance and don’t answer the door to a Deliveroo rider whilst you have it on. There are two holes for the eyes, a strange flap for the nose, and a hole for the mouth. My features are clearly highly irregular as the ‘mouth hole’ rested halfway down my chin, meaning that my mouth is too high up.
After I reshaped the mask to fit my face better.
I found keeping it on for 10 minutes quite difficult, because the mask could find no traction on my face and kept slipping slowly down like a freshly-thrown custard pie. I had to lie on my back while the thing got to work, which made me realise how infrequently I allow myself to chill and be alone with my thoughts. I thought I’d do a spot of mindfulness while I was there, but got distracted when my face started crackling and popping like a bowl of Rice Krispies. I assume this was the active ingredients doing their thing. The mask started to bubble and my face was soon buried in a mound of froth. It was very strange, and made me ponder why we do the things we do in pursuit of beauty.
When the 10 minutes were up, I ripped the thing off and immediately buried my face in a gloriously scratchy towel, vowing to never again take the non-itchy nature of my face for granted.
Looking in the mirror afterwards, I did notice my skin looked a bit brighter, and it was definitely very soft. The next day, my moisturiser went on smoothly, as did my SPF 50. It is vital to apply an SPF when using glycolic products, as the acid actually removes the very top layer of the skin leaving it vulnerable to ageing UVA/ UVB rays.
After the bubble mask
A day later, I was asked for ID at the Tesco self-checkout. Admittedly, after I turned, beaming, at the assistant, he took a look at my face and said, “Actually, you’re okay”, before wandering off. This does not take away from the fact that, from a distance, I must have borne at least a passing resemblance to somebody underage. I’m pretty sure I had the mask to thank for this miracle.
Do I think that this mask gave my sluggish skin a boost of radiance? Yes, absolutely. Did it made me look absurd for 10 minutes? A thousand times yes. Would I buy it regularly at its full price of £5.50? Maybe. The price did put me off, but I would recommend this mask as an excellent pick-me-up between heavy nights out, or just to add a bit of radiance to a tired and lacklustre complexion if you can stand the irritation of actually having it on your face. For those who cannot justify the price, I would suggest that laying off the shots and getting an early night would probably have a similar effect at no cost. Because although this mask did temporarily brighten my skin, sadly you can never truly ‘mask’ the effects of a party lifestyle.