Yeow! My face feels like it's on fire. Okay, maybe not a full-blown blaze, but there's definitely some tingly heat going on thanks to the Astara Activated Sea Mineral Mask ($25–$42) I just applied. I'd always heard good things about Astara, and after using this mask I understand why there's so much buzz.
The mask has an unusual sort of sea smell, and that's not surprising. It features a lot of natural (and in some cases, organic) ingredients: oatmeal extract, five different kinds of mineral-rich seaweed, kaolin clay, and citrus extracts just to name a few. It also has menthol to cool skin, but as I said before, it tends to warm mine up more than anything. In fact, every time I've used this mask, it has one side effect I'm not crazy about. For a picture of that,
Well, there's no getting around this: This mask makes my face tomato-red for about 45 minutes to an hour. Sexy! The first time I used it was before Mr. Bella was taking me out for dinner, and I was nearly too embarrassed by my lobsterface to leave the house. So learn from my mistake: Use this mask only when you don't need to go anywhere immediately. Fortunately, the redness fades after a while, and then you get to enjoy the results.
And what results they are. Immediately after rinsing off this mask, my skin always feels incredibly soft and smooth—just like a baby's dupa. It also brings burgeoning pimples to a head sooner, and it definitely helps with blackheads. Makeup artist Charlie Green uses this mask on models at photo shoots to make the skin radiant, and I can see why. After the redness dies down, you get to bask in clear, healthy-looking skin. So is a little stinging and redness a fair exchange for the effects of this mask? I say yes.