While visiting Japan last year, I found a lot of exclusive and hard-to-find cosmetic brands. (For instance, did you know that the designer Jill Stuart has a complete beauty line?) One unusual discovery is Kose Seikisho Mask White ($28).

Naturally, I had to buy a tube (as a souvenir, of course). The mask itself comes out of the tube as a black goo. (It made me think of The X-Files, which led me into a dreamy David Duchovny reverie.) For more of my review,

The black mask has a soothing, cool feel that tightens a little when it dries. It smells good, too—it's hard to describe, but it just has a fresh, clean scent. If you try this mask, don't skimp with it; I found that applying a thick layer makes peeling the mask off much easier. Stay far away from the eye area, since you'll have to pull your skin a little to remove the mask. Doing so is easy: All you have to do is flick up a tiny bit, then use that to peel the whole thing off.

Whenever I use this, I find that it removes a fair amount of dead skin, and if I'm really lucky, it'll pull out a visible blackhead or two. My complexion generally looks better, but more in a "Well, that's nice" way than in a "Holy moly, who is that beautiful creature?!" way. While I like this product, I think that any peel-off mask is going to pull off dead skin, so I may as well hunt for a drugstore version for comparison. Queen Helene makes a grape seed mask that sounds similar, and it's only $3. I'm thinking of trying it to see if I can get the same result for $25 less. I know Kose products are available in the States now, at C.O. Bigelow stores, so If you've tried either of these masks, let me know!