Are These Expensive Vegan Face Masks Worth It? An Investigation


With $5 sheet masks aplenty, should you invest in these vegan face masks?

As a vegan, I’m a hardcore enthusiast for skin care made with natural ingredients. That said, I totally understand why La Mer and Ole Henriksen diehards continue to give plant-based skin care the side eye—there is so much snake oil out there, friends. My thinking is, if a formula doesn’t need a laundry list of chemicals to be effective, then why not skip the synthetics?

I got married last year, so I decided it was time to commit to a dedicated masking routine. Ultimately, I picked three vegan face masks for their unique ingredients and formulations. (Yes, I always read labels and am always on the lookout for potent skincare ingredients derived from nature.)

I tend to have combo skin prone to hormonal breakouts, so I have some scarring and pigmentation that I’m forever trying to brighten up. I’ve also been noticing my skin isn’t as plump as it used to be (cue that one sound effect from Psycho). My heart wants what it wants: youthful, glowing skin. Could the perfect vegan face mask give that to me? Spoiler alert: I wore the bare minimum of makeup for my wedding as a result of my masking routine.

Vegan Face Mask #1: The Glow Filter

Kypris Glow Philtre vegan face maskKypris Glow Philtre ($88)

Aside from sounding like a Snapchat filter in a jar, its name—Glow Philtre—even means “magic potion.” Exotic ingredients like pomegranate pith enzymes to stimulate cell renewal, sea fennel stem cells and sea algae to plump, brighten and soften skin, and silver ear mushroom for a heavy dose of hydration certainly sound promising.

I think this gelatinous mask is gentle enough to for most skin types, but the directions say to leave it on for only 5 minutes if you have sensitive skin. I left it on for 20, and it was love at first sight when I washed it off to reveal a softer, smoother, vibrant complexion. That was enough for me to decide to give it the ultimate responsibility of prepping my skin for my wedding day. I wanted to be able to get away with wearing as little makeup as possible because I wanted my husband-to-be to see the real me and not a glammed-up stranger he’d never seen before.

For the next two weeks the mask became an every-other-day ritual. If it weren’t for a special occasion, I would have been more conservative since it’s almost as expensive as the packaging looks. By wedding time I was comfortable wearing just tinted moisturizer and concealer—and blush and brow gel and mascara and lip tint because, come on, I still cared about photos. No regrets!

Vegan Face Mask #2: The Sea Star

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Detox Vegan Face Mask

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Detox Vegan Mask ($30)

Just because I follow a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m all about eating kelp and spirulina! Admittedly, I find the latter kind of nauseating. But will I slather these ingredients on in the name of good skin? Sure (even though I won’t enjoy it).

As soon as I opened the jar, I hoped it wouldn’t be that great because the ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender essential oils didn’t do much to mask the strong algae smell. But hey, that’s how you know this stuff is active, which is why sensitive skin types should probably be careful with this one, too. (And if you have dry skin, definitely moisturize immediately after any detox mask.)

There’s so much goodness in here: detoxifying and clarifying seaweed powders, anti-inflammatory matcha, acne-fighting nettle powder and skin-firming French green clay.

I sprinkled about ½ teaspoon of the powder into my palm and added equal part water, then mixed it with my hands into a paste and applied it to my face. After five minutes of looking like Swamp Thing, I washed it off and my skin was plump and glowing. Dang. When I woke up the next day—radiance. Definitely keeping this in the rotation even if it means having to deal with not-my-favorite scent once or twice a week.

Vegan Face Mask #3: The Game Changer

Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial Masque - Vegan Face MaskGoop by Juice Beauty Exfoliating Instant Facial ($125)

Best. Face mask. Ever. As much as I loved all of the above, Gwyneth Paltrow’s holy-grail mask she dreamt up with Juice Beauty is everything. (We sat down with Karen Behnke, Juice Beauty’s founder and believe the hype.) I understand why GP breaks the rules and uses this every day rather than the suggested two to three times a week—I could not wait to put this on every time. It’s the only product I’ve ever used that truly gives me polished baby skin.

Its natural BHA and AHA and plant-derived cellulose beads exfoliate like no other. Some people have claimed that the brightening citrus ingredients burn and cause redness, so beware if you have sensitive skin. For me, this was not an issue.

I left it on for just one minute to start and eventually graduated to the maximum three minutes, and everything was fine. Better than fine. I wish I never had to live without this miracle mask, but I might have to skip a student loan payment to replenish once it’s gone. I’ll be savoring every last drop.

In the end, all three vegan face masks fulfilled their promises, but no one mask ever truly does it all. The Glow Philtre might be useless if my skin is in desperate need of a detox, and that’s where the Mermaid Mask comes in. And the Goop Instant Facial can never be a daily indulgence because I’m not as audacious as GP.

But thanks to this experiment I’m now a serial masker, alternating a few different masks at least every other day, if I’m being good. Not gonna lie, my skin game is tighter than ever.

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