* Prices may differ from that shown
I absolutely adore the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. As someone who has been plagued with oily skin, acne, and clogged pores since she hit puberty, I'm always on the search for a nice detoxifying mud mask that will be that cure to my skin problems. I think this mask may be my favourite one I've tried so far. First off, it's dirt cheap. I think you can get it for around £3, depending on where you buy it. Considering you get a gigantic tube of product, this is a great deal. The mask smells like mint and has a mentholated feeling when it's applied to the skin. The only downside is that the consistency is like hardened peanut butter, which makes it messy to use. One of the main ingredients to the mask is kaolin clay, which is great for really drawing out the impurities from your pores. I have this gross fascination with seeing the mask dry on my face and the little dark spots on my acne and pores showing where all the excess oil is being absorbed into the clay. This mask really does help clean my pores and dry up my zits, which makes it perfect for those days when I get a massive cystic break out or when I get home from a night out with a heavy face of make up.
Today, though I'll be pounding the pavements of Mexico City for the next 10 hours, my look is more beach babe than city slicker. I'm in a flouncy skirt. My hair avoided the straighteners and stayed loose and wavy. I will quite probably be the only person sporting silver shoes in the whole of PWC this morning and, rather unusually, I washed my face with sand this morning.
With mere weeks to go before I return to the UK, I should be using up toiletries, not buying new ones, but I had to do something to celebrate my new shower, since I've been without water (hot or otherwise) for about 6 weeks. I hate bar soap, and only use it on my face when needs must (like when I have to cart all my showering stuff to the gym and back every time I want a wash) so I celebrated my new bathroom feature by buying a tube of face scrub while I was in Sally Health and Beauty.
~~~ The Company ~~~
I had not come across the Queen Helene brand before, but it was cheap and imported from the US (making it less likely to be useless and/or contain chilli) so I popped it into the basket, used it the following morning, and have been obsessed ever since. From the website (below) I learnt that the company was established in the 1930s in the USA, and is named after the daughter of its founder. The company offers over 100 different products for the face, body, feet, hair and scalp, and the focus is on natural ingredients, with the belief that these are safer, and often more effective, than harsh chemicals and unnecessary additives. They also pride themselves on being an affordable brand, and indeed I paid a mere £1.50 for this product. Unlike so many international brands, they price according to the local market, making them accessible to local people - this same product will cost you about £3 in the UK, which is still affordable, and good value compared to similar products.
In addition to their natural ingredients, the company is conscious of its environment. They use only recyclable packaging (though I'm unsure where, in Mexico or the UK for that matter, I can recycle the plastic tube I have) and the Naturals product line is Fair Trade certified (NB: this product, though 'Natural' is not part of that range). Finally, they never test on animals, unlike a surprising number of big companies who still do.
~~~ The Product ~~~
This face scrub comes in a 170g tube - a weird size, but it's equal to 6 oz., which is a more common unit of measurement in the US. I chose the Mint Julep version because I liked the smell of it, though a few others were available in the shop. The scrub is said to be 'natural' and should 'deep clean and gently exfoliate the dull surface layers from your skin'. My skin is the opposite of sensitive, and so I don't need to read ingredients lists or check for possible reactants, which does make toiletry shopping a lot easier. For all this is a 'natural' product, however, the ingredients list is long and includes words like 'triethanolamine' and 'isopropyl' which don't sound all that natural to me. I am unconcerned by chemicals though, and the only thing I ever look for - not tested on animals - is something clearly displayed on this tube.
The scrub looks a lot like the sand in both colour and texture, which makes it nothing much aesthetically, but it has a very distinct, minty smell, like toothpaste. It actually smells good enough to eat, and is not quite as overpowering as the Original Source brand mint products. The scrub is comes out in a thick paste, but you can easily control the amount that you squeeze out, a great bonus since you need only a tiny amount of this. On the odd occasion when I have got too much, I have used it up on my arms and legs when I'm done with my face, but though it smoothes these areas, I would normally not bother using it in this way.
On my face, the area for which this scrub is designed, I rub the scrub in any old way, ignoring the 'massage gently into skin' instruction. Sometimes I go round in circles, other times up and down and left to right, sometimes with fingertips, sometimes with my palms, depending on how much of a hurry I'm in, and if I'm stressed or not. When I am, I love face scrubs because you can really feel like you're washing away the stresses of a day with fierce, aggressive strokes. The scrub does not foam up, but it does wash away very easily if you just stick your face in the stream of water. I have had problems with stickier products which require washing off, something I would forget until I was out of the shower and saw the stuff still caked to my face. That is not a problem with this one, but since it rinses so quickly, I tend to apply it out of the shower - I will wet my face and then turn around to scrub it in, using my back to keep the water off my face until it's time to rinse. Though you could apply it to dry skin, I did once and it was a bit scratchy, so I prefer a damp face first.
I love this product because of the way it leaves my face after use. My skin has never been smoother - it literally feels like someone has sanded off the top few layers, and yet I never find my face uncomfortably tight or dry, like after using generic hotel-soaps (my go-to product for those 6 weeks of gym showers). I have also had no breakouts since I started using this. I slap on moisturiser after my shower, and my skin stays smooth all day long. The only similar product I can think of that I've tried is the St Ives Apricot Scrub, which I used religiously for years, but I'm glad I decided to try this one instead, since the scrub is just a tiny bit finer, it feels like it polishes your skin to a nice shine and the scent is a nice, refreshing change that wakes me up in the mornings. While you might not normally want a harsh exfoliation this often, I have found this product suitable for daily use. I suppose it is also like a cheaper (and more every-day / less luxurious) version of the Sanctuary scrubs which I love, though my bank balance does not.
Though it's less important that the results of the product itself, I would also like to give a shout out to the packaging. The tube comes with a large, flat bottom so you can stand it in the shower, and this unscrews entirely rather than being hinged, which means it's less likely to get all messy and bunged up. The tube is a wipe clean plastic, so stays neat too - any splatters just wipe straight off. While its opaque design makes it hard to see how much is left, you can guess well enough from squeezing it lightly when the lid is still screwed on. I have been using it for ages, but it still seems almost as full as when I bought it, so I expect it to last for ages. They use the same packaging in various countries, I guess, since the product is labelled in Spanish and French as well- and I couldn't help but smile when I saw the latter calling it a 'désincrustant natural'. Haven't you always dreamed of de-crusting your skin?
Available on Amazon UK for £3.19 or from Sally Health and Beauty shops. A Mint Julep face mask is also available, and going to the top of my list of things to try!
Deep cleans while gently exfoliating the skin /