As good as a professional treatment - Ella Baché Charcoal Foaming Mask
Updated: May 5
How's everyone going after 4 long weeks of physical distancing?
I had my facial treatment booked in March and salons were ordered to close the day before. Not complaining, as I think it's necessary that we all do this together. To share how I take care of my skin at this time, I plan to dedicate my next few reviews to my "best kept secrets" that are helping my skin to stay at its best condition without salon visits.
You would have noticed that lately I am a little hooked to Ella Baché. Kimberley, the salon manager at Ella Baché West Lindfield, is to blame. She dutifully makes sure that I am aware of every single new product release.
Here is one that I have repurchased over and over again after my initial sampling.
What does it do?
In short, the Ella Baché Charcoal Foaming Mask is an exfoliating and purifying sheet mask. It is nothing like what I have used before - most of my sheet masks are for hydration and I tend to associate "purifying masks" with drying clay masks which used to work better on my younger skin. I have tried some other bubble masks in the market after I was introduced to this Ella Baché mask (e.g. Philosophy's Microdelivery Oxygen Peel) but so far I haven't found one that gives me the same (or even similar) results.
AHAs: the mask is infused with a serum rich in fruit derived AHAs (incuding glycolic acid) to exfoliate, smooth and refine skin texture. With this exfoliating action, it naturally boosts skin radiance and glow.
The serum composition that I was given is: glycolic 12%, lactic acid 28%, citric acid 2%, malic acid 1%, tartaric acid 1%. This home treatment is as close as you can get to the salon strength glycolic/lactic peel which is typically between 20 to 30%.
Activated charcoal: activated charcoal powder (carbon soot that has been treated to increase surface area for absorption) has been used for many years to purify drinking water (think Brita filter). Activated charcoal can be used to treat poison ingestion due to its absorption power. Use of activated charcoal in skincare is not new, but not many studies have been done to evaluate its effectiveness. At least two studies* have reported positive outcome but neither of those contain activated charcoal in a sheet mask format. I would imagine having activated charcoal on a sheet mask is not as effective as powder or suspension as it does not get the same access to lines and pores, but it does not cause any harm to be included as an ingredient and it may work.
The foam: the foam forms as soon as the mask is applied to skin. The idea is that it draws oxygen to the skin in the foaming process. Evidence of "anti-aging" benefits from topical oxygen application is not conclusive but one study does suggest some benefits for mild acne skin (although oxygen was infused through a device for 30 minutes, 3 times a week and for 16 weeks!). Some believes it also boosts blood circulation and stimulates cell turnover but others think unlikely. Again, it does not cause any harm to be included and it may work; moreover, it certainly enhances user experience (see below).
I have no doubt that the AHAs are doing all the heavy lifting, but the AHAs may very well amplify any effect from the activated charcoal and oxygen as the exfoliation improves accessibility to the deeper layer of skin by removing the surface dead skin cells.
Aloe vera, glycerine and allantoin: included as a soothing and hydrating ingredients to balance the actions above.
The mask: made of cellulose pulp which comes from the cell wall of green plants and algae. It is completely comfortable to use. The sheet is large enough for my face, contours well and does not slide off.
Tips on application
Although this is a purifying mask, use it on double-cleansed skin to enhance product action.
The foam starts to form as soon as it touches skin surface, so it is best to apply while already in a comfortable position. I like using this mask while lying down because the sound of bubbling is an excellent background noise for a mini meditation session. Massaging the mask can increase the amount of foam, but since the mask will continue foaming in the next 10 minutes, avoid over-doing it (the first time I ended up with way too much foam).
The strength of the AHA is high. Start with a lower amount of time (5 minutes) for first use and gradually build it up. I have fairly resilient skin so I now leave it on for 10 minutes and sometimes a little bit over. Wash off residue completely afterwards (it contains lauryl sulfate as a foaming agent). Similar to after getting a salon peel, limit sun exposure afterwards and use sunscreen.
This mask works just as well as a professional peel for me. My skin looks crystal clear and glows every single time after use. As I use this mask as maintenance in-between salon visits and not for a specific skin concern (such as acne or oily skin) I do not use it as often as recommended (which is 1-2 times a week).
Pictured above: immediately after using Ella Baché Charcoal Foaming Mask. Bare faced without applying any other skincare or makeup.
Cellulose, Charcoal Powder, Water, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water, Glycerin, Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Isododecane, Butylene Glycol, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Polysilicone-11, Xanthan Gum, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, Sodium Chloride, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Allantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, Decyl Glucoside, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citric Acid
*A lot of online articles cited a study published in the European Jorunal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research reporting activated charcoal can help draw microparticles, such as dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria, to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier, but I can no longer access that particular study online. Another study was published in International Journal of Phytopharmacy Research which is not very comprehensive.
The first mask was provided by the salon as a sample on a complimentary basis. Subsequently I have made multiple purchases at full price. I have no obligation to publish any review or report. My opinion is honest. Referral link to receive $10 off your purchase: http://ellabache.refr.cc/stellal
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.