An ode to face masks

by Amanda Aldinger

Amanda is a writer, spinning instructor, and holistic health coach. She’s also the founder of Sassasfras Health, which offers empowered wellness through one-on-one and group health coaching services. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, and together they’re on a quest to see every national park in America.

I love face masks.

I am smitten with their luxury. Namely, the high-brow experience of smothering my face in exotic ingredients, juxtaposed against the low-brow reality of watching Law and Order: SVU in my pajamas while drinking a glass of Rioja from a bottle that definitely cost less than $15. Luxury.

I haven’t always been this way. In my late 20s, I learned about the chemicalization of our food system, and its devastating connection to chronic disease. As I removed processed foods from my home and diet, I overhauled my makeup and skincare products as well. This shift unveiled a whole new approach to beauty, one powered by plants. And it transformed my skincare regimen into one fueled by anti-aging rose oil, detoxifying activated charcoal powder, cellulite-shaming coffee grounds, and the rich exfoliation of French pink, green, and white clay.

My teenaged years were highlighted by unruly, oily skin, with a penchant for breakouts. And now, in my 30s, the acne has abated, thank goodness, but my skin concerns have evolved. I’m not afraid of wrinkles, but who doesn’t want their face lit with a natural, youthful glow? To keep my skin eternally radiant, I’ve curated an army of vegan, all-natural face masks, each designed to target a particular issue. All of which feel delicious on the skin.

For the AM glow (and as a hangover cure)

Frank Body’s Glow Mask. Frank Body is the shit. They have my favorite branding of any beauty brand, their products are tested on humans, the ingredients are naturally derived, and they recently made a body scrub out of sparkles. These are things you can’t possibly hate. Their glow mask is my trick for de-puffing a sad morning face, or for when I’ve had a few too many cocktails the night before and need something to boost my glow. It’s super moisturizing and feels like frosting. It’s quite thick, so I like to put it on pre-shower, and then rinse it off while in the shower. Probably while brushing my teeth. Favorite ingredients: Arabica coffee seed oil, shea and cocoa butters, goji berry extract, and cranberry and raspberry seed oils.

For freakishly smooth skin

Frank Body’s Original Coffee Scrub. Billed as “the dirtiest shower you’ll ever have,” this scrub is basically like dumping infused coffee grounds all over your body. They don’t advertise it for the face, but it’s essentially comprised of edibles, so I figured, “why not?” I coat my face with it in the shower, keep it on for a few minutes, and then watch the tub turn into a landmine of small, brown particles. It feels naughty and great. The scrub yields impossibly smooth skin and is ideal for targeting cellulite, bumps, and unevenness. Favorite ingredients: roasted and ground coffee beans, cold-pressed sweet almond oil, vitamin E, sea salt.

For brightening and anti-aging

Kani Botanicals’ Petal Polish. This baby is a serious multi-tasker. Brown sugar and antioxidant-rich rose join forces to cleanse, exfoliate, nourish, revitalize, and brighten, and this mask remains my go-to treatment for dull skin that needs a refresh. I’m always amazed at how glowy my skin looks once I’ve washed it off. Plus it tastes good enough to eat with a spoon. Favorite ingredients: carrot seed, sweet almond, and jojoba oils, raw brown sugar, rose, shea butter.

For lush, detoxification

Formulary 55’s Rosehip and Clay Facial Mask. The miracle combination of rosehip + clay draws toxins out of the skin for a smooth, bright, refresh. It’s particularly soothing for sensitive skin, as the clay granules are super-fine, so a lovely choice if you find the coarse-grain particles in many exfoliators irritating. Plus, rose is a nutritional wonder, offering a slew of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that moisturize, treat acne, and help reduce inflammation. I use a rose oil blend under my eyes as well, and will latch onto this beauty booster in any product I can find. Favorite ingredients: French white and pink clay, rosehip powder, ground comfrey root, organic rose geranium essential oil.

For fixing literally everything

Jacq’s Organics’ Green Smoothie Scrub & Masque. This is the OG of my mask collection, and one of my favorite beauty products in the world. A powerhouse boost for your skin, it’s my panacea for any breakouts, the mask I carry with me when I travel, and a miracle worker in every way. Loaded with nutrients, vitamins, omega fatty acids, and detoxifying activated bamboo charcoal, it leeches out all the nasty stuff from your pores, while leaving skin clean, cool, refreshed, and so smooth. If you only ever buy one mask, this sweet chick’s your gal. Favorite ingredients: bamboo activated charcoal powder, bentonite clay, galangal and clary sage extracts, sea kelp, raw cacao, peppermint, lavender, rosemary, anise, ginger, geranium, and spearmint oils.

I hope my luxuries can also make you feel luxurious (Law & Order: SVU, optional).