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First of all, let me apologise for the lack of posts lately. I have been taking a break from blogging to practise a bit of self-care and try to straighten out some personal issues. But I’m back. What better way to practise self-care than to have a little pampering session.

For those of you who follow my instagram, you’ll see that I tried a black face mask recently. It’s one of those things that I’ve been seeing everywhere and thought I should try it just to see what all the hype is about.

The mask itself is a cheap one (£3.69) from eBay made by a brand called OneX. I made sure I bought it from a reputable seller in the UK, as buying cosmetic products from outside the EU is always a bit risky as they don’t have the same regulations on ingredients. I read the ingredient list and it did contain charcoal – which is the biggest contribution to the black mask and is great for drawing out impurities. It has been used for years as an impurity filter in many applications, such as water filters, extractor hoods and air purifiers – so there must be something in it! If it’s good enough to clean out air and water, it’s good enough for my face!

The first step with any face mask is to cleanse your skin and to open your pores. To do this, use a warm water with your cleanser to relax the pores and open them. I used Lush’s “Coal Face” – sticking to a theme here. I washed my face with lukewarm water and the coal face cleanser, then once my face had a nice layer of grey foam all over it (it’s an unusual look, I’ll be honest, bust stick with me here), I ran my favourite microfibre face cloth under the hot tap until it was pretty warm. I rung it out and placed it over my face for about 15 seconds. The steam and heat, mixed with the cleanser made my skin go all tingly. That tingly feeling is the pores opening up. I gently rubbed away the cleanser and rinsed my face with more warm water, then immediately started applying the mask.

This mask is really goopy. It’s like PVA glue that’s been sat out for a while. I coated my face in a good thick layer of it and made silly faces at the camera. The instructions said to wait 20 minutes to dry, so I had a cuppa and watched an episode of friends. It still wasn’t dry and I think it probably took a good 35 minutes in total before it stopped feeling all tacky and started feeling like a layer of rubber.

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Then came the part I was most concerned about. Peeling it off. I managed, eventually to find an edge to work with, and then slowly peeled. It has to be done slowly. I think if you did it too quickly it would damage your skin as it’s a very harsh mask. It stung. A lot. I cried. When I was eventually done with the torture, I was left with little black outlines where the mask had been, which washed off nicely with a bit of warm water and my microfibre cloth.

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I then took the time to marvel at the results. I never knew I had so much crap in my skin. Holy cow it’s fascinating to look at. It would explain why it hurt so much, if the entire contents of my pores had literally been ripped out.

I used a gentle toner (Lush’s “breath of fresh air”), in order to close my pores again; and then slathered on moisturiser (Lush’s “Vanishing Cream”) in an attempt to cool down my face, which was rapidly heating up. The mask had seriously set off my rosacea and I looked like a tomato. It was scary. I fanned at my face and kept applying a cool cloth to my cheeks, and eventually the redness went down again, after about an hour.

When the redness had finally gone down, I had the chance to look at my skin in more detail, and saw that it looked cleaner, healthier and brighter. It was soft and matte to touch and when I applied my make up later on, it went on so easily, and looked pretty flawless (if I do say so myself).

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My final words on this mask:

I would definitely, despite the pain and the redness, recommend this mask to anyone who doesn’t have thin or sensitive skin. I know my limits and although I went very red, I knew I wouldn’t be allergic as I read all of the ingredients carefully and did a little spot test on the back of my hand before I used it. It is amazing what will come out of your pores and I will definitely be adding this one to my rotation of monthly masks. It’s not one for the faint-hearted, as it really does sting. More than I expected it to. And I would also recommend doing it before bed, so that if, like me, you suffer from rosacea, the redness will go down by the morning and you’ll wake up with beautiful fresh, soft skin. As with all masks, take care when applying and avoid the delicate eye area. With this one I’d also avoid anywhere there is a substantial amount of hair – yes, you, eyebrows – as there’s a chance you may lose some to the pulling power of this mask.

And that’s all I have to say on the matter. Let me know if you try it, and drop me a comment or a line as usual.