By Taylor Bryant
Certain beauty products — think NARS blush in Orgasm, Clinique’s Black Honey lipstick — are so good, they’re practically famous and have devoted, loyal followings. While we love many of these, we’ve been wondering why others have been quietly flying under the radar. With that in mind, meet our series, Cult Classics, in which we’ll introduce you to the products you should really, truly know about (and try, like, right now). They’re not brand-new, but trust us: They’ve got staying power.
Full disclosure: I have a soft spot for Korean beauty products. No, that’s a lie — I’m all soft for them. Give me a mist, essence, cleanser, or cream that comes from that Eastern hotbed of beauty innovation, and it will be in my rotation immediately (even if I can’t read the directions).
And, the masks. Don’t even get me started on the masks. I’ve tried every type and texture: gel, cotton, snail mucus, algae, anti-wrinkle (despite being only 25, whatever), hyaluronic acid — you name it, it’s been on my mug at one point or another.
Most recently, I’d heard rumblings about a lesser-known Korean brand, Caolion, and its pore mask, which suddenly everyone is going bananas for. So, naturally, I had to see what all the hype was about.
The mask is a blend of glacier clay, mineral-rich volcanic ash, and charcoal. The ingredients that give the mask its magical, cooling effect are peppermint leaf extract and menthol. (Be sure to patch-test it first if you have sensitive skin.) And I don’t use the word “magical” lightly. I first tested it on one of the hottest days of the year, and while the rest of my body was sweating like it was in the Sahara desert, my face was chillin’ in Alaska somewhere. It was like sticking my head in the freezer — a much-needed relief from my apartment at the time (having no AC in NYC is not a good look).
Aside from the cooling effects, the mask itself provides the skin with a great deep-cleanse — flushing out impurities while also balancing excess sebum and tightening pores. Smooth it on clean, dry skin, let it sit for 10 minutes, and wash it off with warm water. Unlike other clay masks, which tend to leave my oily skin tight or dry, this made it feel clean and smooth, and it looked noticeably brighter, too. One caveat: Be super-careful around the eye area. The cooling effect can cause your eyes to water if you apply the mask too close (I learned that one the hard way).
The mask is particularly marvelous for those with oily skin, but it will work wonders on just about any type.
Next up on my Korean skincare list: Caolion’s blackhead mask. Word on the street is it’s like warmed-up Pop Rocks for your face.
Caolion Premium Pore Original Pack, $20, available at Urban Outfitters.
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