I think I begin to understand how these fashion magazine things work. You read the same advice seven or eight times and you become struck with doubt. For example, the skin care advice always includes a serum, a facial and a mask – on top of the moisturizer and SPF that are universal. Now, I use and have talked about the moisturizer and spf, but the other stuff? No clue.

So I went to Stop and Shop (grocery store) beauty aisle. Nary a mask to be found. I went online and bought two sets: a green tea mask and a ten pack of weirdo Chinese masks. I went to Sephora while I was in the mall to check out their mask offerings… which START at $50, and walked away with a sample because I’m not about to recommend a $50 face mask to all y’all unless using it suddenly makes me look like Cate Blanchett.

How I would expect a $50 facial mask to make my skin look

All of these were supposed to “brighten” my face and provide a “luminosity”. I’m wondering how these things are measured. I bet the cosmetic scientists have control skin baseline lumens (or something), and using these creams provides a .78% increase in lumens over a 2 day period for every $100 spent.

The Sephora sample was a leave-on-overnight one, which I used while my husband was out of town. It made my face sticky all night long. Ugh. The green tea one had food colorings in it to make it look green: yellow number something and blue number something else. It made my face feel taut when I put it on – a rather satisfying “I’m doing something here!” sensation. I immediately broke out. (I’m not a very good scientist, I was changing too many variables to identify which one was the culprit – or if both were, or maybe the BB cream after all.)

So far I’ve been too chicken to try the Chinese essences ones.

A combination of chemicals and creepy sounding substances. Snail? Royal Jelly?

I carefully examined my skin after the masks. My personal brand of self-photography (aka attempting to take cell phone pictures in the bathroom mirror) is not detailed enough to capture the quite noticeable difference between makeup and no makeup, so had no hope for offering you insight into the variable luminosity of my skin. But I noticed pretty much nothing – other than the aforementioned breaking out bits.

Not worth it. In beauty, I’m noticing that it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to go from 0 to 1, or 2. But the cost, effort and challenge of going from 2 to 3 is orders of magnitude higher, and you can hardly notice the differences unless you’re obsessed. I couldn’t tell a positive difference in “brightness” (maybe I could if I paid a ton of attention, but eh.) I did break out around that time. I see all downside and no upside.

Use if:
– You get really bored
– You are having a sleepover with your girlfriends and are 17 years old
– You already have one you like and think makes a difference

Don’t use if:
– You already have decent skin
– You like getting value for your money and effort.