We’ve been having a spate of extremely sunny weather here in London this August, and with the month being the most popular for continental Europeans going on holiday, I can literally hear both mine and other people’s faces scream out for some post-holiday TLC.
Lush’s Catastrophe Cosmetic Face Mast claims to impart just that. Before I get a bit too far ahead of myself, I’ll tell you a little about Lush, especially for those who might not be lucky enough to live in their general catchment area. Started in 1994 by husband and wife duo Mark and Mo Constantine, Lush is a handmade cosmetics company headquartered in Poole, Dorset here in the UK. In 1994, they opened the first Lush store in Poole under the name Cosmetic House Limited. Later, the name Lush was offically adopted on 10 April 1995. There are now more than 600 stores in 43 countries. Lush produces and sells a variety of handmade products, including soaps, shower gels, shampoos and hair conditioners, bath bombs, bubble bars, hand and body lotions and face masks. Basically if you have a Lush in your town or city you already know this because the shop literally announces its presence with the inviting aromas that emanate from it when you walk by.
Back to the product at hand. The Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask is so fresh it actually has to be kept in the fridge. Which is not so strange, considering it was handmade using fresh ingredients (there are actual blueberry bits in it) on the 6th of August and has to be used by the 3rd of September. This information is contained in a little sticker that also tells me the product was made by a lady called Wiola.
The first five ingredients ( I once read a blogpost by a scientist I admire who said the first five ingredients of a product are actually the ones people should pay the most attention to) are calamine powder, talc, Irish moss gel, fresh blueberries, and glycerine. Calamine powder is known on more than just an anecdotal basis to relieve itching and minor skin irritations like sunburn. Irish Moss is not only a rich source of nutrients such as sulphur compounds and vitamin B but also moonlights as a natural gelling agent. Talc is the softest mineral known to man, and is probably responsible for the whitish film I have just struggled to remove from my face a few minutes ago; fresh blueberries are natures teachers’ pet when it comes to antioxidisation, and glycerine is a skin-identical humectant (attracts moisture to your skin).
For someone who has slowly but surely been making a transition from artificial to more natural-based products, the ingredients read like a dream. But do they actually deliver tangible results?
I apply the pasty product using a plastic spatula, since I don’t want to get germs and other members of the invisible bug family into the product. Especially since it sounds like it is easily perishable. It has a very thick consistency, almost like icecream that’s only been a few minutes out of the freezer. A mixture of beige and blueberry blue in colour, it goes on thickly and once I have enough product on the face, I rub it in with my fingers so the entire surface of my face is covered. The instructions are for me to leave it on for 5-10 minutes so I let it stay on for 10 minutes.
About 5 minutes in, it begins to sting a tad. This is a bit ironic considering the product is touted as one to calm the skin, but since it is also supposed to be cleansing in nature, I take this as a sign that it is this side of the product that is now active. Either that or I’m mildly allergic to one or more of the ingredients. I rinse it off infront of the mirror with a lot of warm running water since it seems a bit hard to get off and lives a slightly chalky film on my face – which goes away with some more scrubbing.
I’m not sure whether it’s from all the rubbing (with a facecloth) I had to do to get the product off but the most immediate discernible effect this facemask treatment has on my face is the feeling that a lot of blood has rushed to the surface, making it feel warm and flushed.This is the opposite of what it says on the tin but I’m actually quite happy with the increased blood circulation. The skin needs this to be able to transport nutrients to My skin feels smooth but I wouldn’t exactly say soothed. If anything it feels energized and like something has been activated. I interpret this as a good thing. Half an hour later, it feels like all the subdermal action has calmed down somewhat, and I can conclude that it does indeed sooth and nourish sun-stressed skin. My skin is smooth with a matte finish though it the product was actually drying to my normal to slightly combination skin. Might it be more of a godsend to those with oily skin?
*All natural ingredients. (big, big YES to this)
* Increased blood circulation to the surface of the face.
* Is not only calming and soothing but also cleansing so can be used instead of cleanser every now and then.
* Very short shelf-life. Even with diligent refrigeration, the product will only be fresh for just over three weeks. Despite the fact it comes in a very manageable 75 g pot, I will never be able to use all of it in that short amount of time.
* The paste spreads on a bit reluctantly, and is equally as hard to get off. But such are the joys of facemasks in the general.
* It has a bit of a stripping effect on the skin.
*It looks and smells edible. Couple that with the fact it has to be stored in the fridge and you might have a minor disaster if you have kids. Heck, I caught my 35-year old fiance eyeing it hungrily during one of his nightly food raids.
Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask is available online at lush.co.uk, and in their retail stores around the world. This product was sent to me for review by Lush.