I first heard about the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask in a post by Joyce Kong on Refinery29 at the turn of the year. At that point, the mask was only available in Korea, so I let it slide by. It was released worldwide in February 2016 for the rock-bottom price of $25 per mask (yes, this is my annual use of sarcasm). Although I like crazy shit as much as anyone, I didn’t jump–I’ve never tried Estée Lauder skincare and kbeauty offers a range of skincaretainment masks. It wasn’t until Korean skincare fans fell in love with this mask and Korean brands started releasing their own foil masks that I decided to try it. I’m a firm believer in knowing the canon.
I had realistic, but high expectations for this mask. At $25, many times the price of some of my favorite masks, I expected that it would deliver some sort of elevated results plus an interesting look.
Little did I know that it would turn out to be the scariest masking experience I’ve had so far (including the times I’ve covered my mouth with a modeling mask).
Foil Masks: The Future of Masking?
I’m really feeling sheet masks these days, strange as it sounds coming from someone who has spent the last two years reviewing more “serious” things like acids and essences. Korea has recognized the mask sheet as something driving the international kbeauty boom, and companies are producing many new masks that seek to capitalize on the passion for masking in the US and China. One of the new trends, started by the Estée Lauder PowerFoil Mask (Estée Lauder is a US company), is foil masking. These days new foil masks are being released every week; since publishing my overview of the new kbeauty foil masks last week, I’ve learned of six more new foil masks.
PSA: Where to Put Masks in Your Routine
Uncertain about where to put sheet masks in your routine? Stick them in the essence slot. Check out my visual guide to skincare for a printable chart.
Estée Lauder Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask Review
How to use it
The PowerFoil instructions imply that this mask delivers a week’s worth of glow in 10 minutes. hmm
This is a two-piece mask and the instructions say to apply the bottom half first and then the top.
I set the timer and removed the mask after ten minutes, massaging in any remaining essence (there was a lot–the foil really does help keep things wet). If you’re not testing the claim that this mask only takes 10 minutes to work, I think you could keep it on quite a bit longer without a problem.
Foil mask tip: open the corner of the envelope to pour out essence first. Apply it with your fingers to your face (and arms or whatever else could use a moisture boost). Once the loose essence is on, slap the foil mask on top of that. Having tried a few kbeauty foil masks that I’ll review soon, I figured this out, and it really helps to make sure that every bit of your face gets essenced even if the mask sheet isn’t making contact with your skin–foil masks don’t have quite the clingy fit of a silk or microfiber mask, so this is a hack for dealing with that. No doubt other skincare fans put all of this together long before me, a formerly infrequent masker!
Let’s Talk Some Sheet
This was a perfectly decent mask size for my giant face. It fell just a bit short of my high forehead, but then again, many masks do. I had a gap on the sides of my nose, but again…if masks were made to perfectly fit my face, they likely would not fit 95% of yours lol.
Sheet Material and Thickness
The material is microfiber backed by foil. Given the material, it’s relatively thin and pliable.
This mask fit surprisingly well against my skin despite the foil backing. The mask was secure enough that I was able to stand up and walk around with only minor adjustments to optimize the placement.
Getting to the Essence
Ingredients and My Skin’s Reaction
Water, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-75, Butylene Glycol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Propanediol, Glycereth-26, Cladosiphon Okamuranus Extract, Garcinia Mangostana Peel Extract, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Silybum Marianum (Lady’s Thistle) Extract, Echinacea Purpurea (Coneflower) Extract, Limonium Vulgare Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Betula Alba (Birch) Extract, Hydrolyzed Algin, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Extract, Poria Cocos Sclerotium Extract, Algae Extract, Squalane, Yeast Extract, Caffeine, PEG-8 Glyceryl, Isostearate, Glycerin, Artemia Extract, Lecithin, Glycine, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Sodium Hyaluronate, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Dextrin, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Laureth-3, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.
CosDNA analysis. There are a few potential triggers. The big red flag here is Hydrolyzed Algin, which rates 4 out of 5 as a potential acne and sensitivity trigger.
Something in this cocktail absolutely did not in any way agree with my skin. I felt some irritation when I patted on the essence before applying the mask. Yikes. I applied essence to my arm to test the stickiness and it actually got pink and a bit itchy in the area where I often wear a watch. My face got warm (likely due, in part, to the foil backing trapping the heat from my face), but it also got pink in some areas. The height of the whole experience was actually feeling the edge of my top lip go numb toward the end of the 10 minutes. When the timer rang I happily removed the mask and surveyed the damage. Nothing too crazy, just some uncharacteristic flushing. But masks aren’t really supposed to do that. My skin may have been a bit overexfoliated, but I’ve never had such a wild reaction before to any skincare product of any kind. The PowerFoil essence contains a lot of ingredients that are new to me–sort of Western forest extracts–so it could be that I had a slight allergic reaction to one of them or that the overall formulation didn’t work for me. I tested the pH of the essence and it was about 4.5, which is great.
The essence is a medium weight, but quite liquidy. When the essence dried on my skin it felt very heavy and moisturizing, but in a sort of skin saturation way.
Having now tried two different foil masks, I think that the mask boost comes from the essence and not so much the foil. The essences simply feel thicker and stickier once applied to my skin. This essence dries down and just feels a bit sticky/saturated on the jawline and under my chin, so it wasn’t bad at all. The essence saturation level felt like the illi Cocoon Anti-Aging Mask–my skin was at max hydration capacity, but not in a gross way. I woke up the next morning with dewy, plump skin…but that’s the situation every morning, and it’s not like this mask introduced a new level of radioactivity to my skin or anything. I looked normal, as if I’d done any mask in my drawer the night before. The differences might be more apparent for people with skin that’s in dry condition usually or who never mask. That’s not me.
Estée Lauder claims that the foil backing helps the mask essence penetrate 25 times faster (this claim is made on the mask’s paper insert). If that’s true, it could explain my skin’s reaction to the essence. Too much too fast can be incredibly irritating. But the claim seems a bit farfetched to me–the foil merely warms up and blocks absorption, but it’s not shoving humectants into my skin. I asked Michelle, a Chemistry PhD and blogger at Lab Muffin, her thoughts:
@fanserviced Occlusion does make things penetrate faster, and it supposedly feels warm as well which would help, but 25x is pretty nuts so I
— Michelle (@LabMuffin) May 29, 2016
@fanserviced would guess they’re using outliers to make their claim…
— Michelle (@LabMuffin) May 29, 2016
While one obviously can’t make any final statements without seeing the documentation backing up the claims, this “25X faster penetration” seems both unlikely and potentially very irritating to skin. Additionally, the much much cheaper and reusable Daison silicon mask cover can be paired with regular sheet masks to do the same thing, so there’s no need to shell out $25 per mask for that feature.
The essence smells pretty herbal–it’s like a hanbang scent, now that I think about it. There’s no added fragrance.
Estée Lauder Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask Overall
This is the most disappointing mask I’ve tried on a few levels. I’m not sure if the issue lies with the mask (plenty of other people have loved it!) or my skin/genetics, but this is not for me.
I’m having a hard time trying to strike a balance between evaluating the product fairly and taking my own bad reaction into account. That said, I’ve never had a reaction like this before to a mask, even those so-sharp-they-could-cut Botanic Farm hydrogels, shudder. Unlike a $25 bottle of skincare from a US shop, it would be more tricky, if not impossible, to try to return a used sheet mask. ahahaha For my skin this wasn’t good and objectively I think you can get a lot more for your $25.
Where to Find It
Check out my sheet masks category for reviews of budget-friendly alternatives.
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