The Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask Ex claims to clear, calm and reinvigorate skin, giving it a soft radiance, leaving it clear and translucent.
In order to deliver skin “translucency”, there are several lightening, protective and brightening actives in the formulation. Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract is also known as Solomon’s Seal and is one of the key actives of this mask. It is a powerful clarifying agent, useful for the treatment of acne and effective at reducing redness and dark spots. Panax Ginseng Root Extract is packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants which defend against UV and environmental stress and stimulate cell regeneration. By improving blood circulation, it makes the skin look brighter too. Ginseng also exhibits anti-ageing properties, increasing the production of collagen and making skin more elastic. Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract offers soothing qualities for sensitive skin through its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory strengths. Together with Paeonia Albiflora (Peony) Root Extract, they have a natural skin lightening ability which can improve blemishes and dark spots. Studies have shown that at high concentrations, Portulaca Oleracea Extract also displays skin whitening and wrinkle improvement efficacy.
Other notable ingredients contribute smoothing, moisturizing, purifying and exfoliating effects to the mask. The Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract is full of antioxidants, flavonoids and fatty acids which allow it to purify the skin and minimize the appearance of pores for a more youthful look. It also has natural Alpha Hydroxy Acids, (AHAs) which allow it to gently exfoliate, balancing this with natural moisturizing properties.
Honey is a natural humectant which improves skin moisture and assists to keep it at a balanced pH. Its powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties encourage healing whilst also promoting collagen protection with amino acids and antioxidants. Bentonite clay opens and cleans facial pores to relieve acne by pushing impurities out of the skin.
The peel off functionality of this mask is provided by Polyvinyl Alcohol, a synthetic polymer of vinyl alcohol. Coupling it with the humectant properties of glycerin reduces the risk of skin aggravation. Alcohol is listed third on the ingredient list which rings alarm bells when in skincare due to its drying effects. We’re always warned to stay away from products that contain alcohol, however, in a peel off mask, it is a necessary component as it aids the evaporation process and hence the drying of the film. This is balanced with the moisturising properties of glycerine, listed next at position 4, to avoid drying the skin too.
Water, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Alcohol, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Peg-75, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Honey, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Xanthan Gum, Bentonite, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium Edta, Fragrance
The mask comes in a plastic tube with screw top lid. The cap has a flat head allowing for upright storage. It is a more hygienic dispensing method than most masks which tend to be packaged in screw top jars.
Both the CosDNA and EWG reports are generally favourable. The exception which causes a red flag is fragrance, whilst the presence of PEGs are also questionable.
When combined with certain substances, PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols) become known irritants or skin sensitizers. PEGs do not penetrate intact skin but should be avoided otherwise. According to a 2005 Toxicology and Preclinical Affairs report: “On healthy skin, the sensitizing potential of these compounds appear to be negative.”
After applying emulsion in the evening, apply an appropriate amount on the face, avoiding the eye and lip area. Peel off from top to bottom after 20-30 minutes when the mask dries.
This mask has a herbal, somewhat spicy, earthy smell similar to ginseng with a medicinal twist.
I couldn’t find a RRP for this product, but the price is around AUD$50.00 and the volume 150ml.
The Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask Ex must be used within 12 months of opening. Mine is date stamped with a two year expiry.
Sulwhasoo is a luxury Korean skincare brand with an equally admired reputation. They are well known for their high quality (expensive) skincare. This mask is one of the more affordable products in the line. It has a thick molasses-like consistency and a glossy dark brown finish. It is stretchy but not overly sticky. There are tiny dark beads through it which I assume are finely ground Solomon Seal (Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract). They do not contribute any physical exfoliation effect as they are powder like and undetectable when massaging the product onto the skin. The mask is easily squeezed out of the tube and applied with the fingertips to a cleansed face.
The instructions advise application after emulsion which is not normally the case for a mask. From what I can gather, this may be to enhance the underlying hydration of the skin so that the high content of alcohol (even though balanced with an equal amount of glycerine), does not contribute a drying effect. Additionally, it appears to make the peel process a little easier and even enhances the absorption of moisturiser afterwards since already hydrated skin receives moisture more readily than dry skin.
Unfortunately the Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask Ex does have added fragrance so it is difficult to conclude if the scent is derived primarily from the natural extracts or contributed artificially. There is definitely a spicy smell of ginseng so likely to be a combination of both.
There is a bit of an art to applying the precise amount that will allow the mask to peel off in a single piece. Too little and it breaks off and has to be removed in several pieces, too much and it takes longer to dry and is quite frankly a waste of product. The most important aspect of application is to try and get a consistent layer over the entire face so the mask dries evenly. When you get it right, the mask can peel off in one complete piece which is very satisfying.
Once applied, it doesn’t take long to dry. As it dries, the tightening effect on the skin becomes increasingly apparent. It is never uncomfortable but very obvious. Peeling does create an intense but not painful stretching sensation on the skin. Be careful to avoid eyes and mouth in application and try not to spread it over the hairline or eyebrows. Any left on hair needs to be removed with warm water to soften and rinse it out.
Immediately, the effect of the mask is obvious. The skin looks significantly brighter and feels softer. There is no drying effect, rather the opposite. Upon removal, my face feels soft, clean and hydrated and the oily T-zone temporarily normalized. The impurities and dead cells are drawn out of the surface of the skin into the mask and pulled off upon removal.
This is a luxurious way to deep clean your face once a week, particularly if you enjoy the peel-off sensation and suffer blocked pores be they blackheads or whiteheads.
Typical of the brand, this product displays excellent efficacy. It doesn’t irritate my skin upon application or removal. It leaves my face feeling super clean, my complexion bright and texture ultra soft. So yes, it does satisfy the manufacturer’s claim of clear, radiant skin. This is a great, once a week mask for a deep cleanse and gentle exfoliation and in doing so, delivering a very satisfying peel-off experience. It also offers a gentle alternative to detoxifying clay masks that may be too drying for some skin types.
|Packed with botanical extracts||Only available online in Australia|
|Gentle formulation ideal for all skin types||Added fragrance and PEGs|
|Purifies and exfoliates gently|
|Peels off cleanly in one or few pieces|
|Good alternative to clay masks|
Polyvinyl Alcohol Paula’s Choice Skincare Dictionary
16 Health Benefits of Solomon’s Seal Root Dr Paul Haider
Ginseng Benefits and Uses for Skin, Hair and Health Stylish Walks website
Ginseng in Skin Care Nicky Hoskins
10 Impressive Benefits of Ginseng Organic Facts
What’s In My Skin Care: Licorice Root Extract LaMav, Organic Skin Science
Angelica Delicious Skin
Lotus for Skin, the Purifying and Rejuvenating Fragrant Flower AnnMarie Skin care
Honey | Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary Paula’s Choice Skincare
Skin Lightening and Wrinkle Improving Efficacy of Organic Portulaca oleracea Extract in Skin Care Cosmetic In-Young Kim, Min-Hee Lee, Seung-Bo Shim and Yong-Jin Chun
What Are the Benefits of Bentonite? Aubri John
What is it – PEGs Truth In Aging
Formulating Facial Masks Cosmetics and Toiletries website
Please read in context with my disclaimer.