Welcome back to the TJ Maxx sheet mask review series! I find it really interesting that the availability of Korean and Taiwanese sheet masks is just nonchalantly increasing in the U.S., albeit inconsistently. I’ve noticed that Mediheal masks are generally more popular than Naisture; although both brands, plus IPKN New York, Leaders, and My Beauty Diary, are reportedly pretty prevalent at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s as of late. Aww yiss.
Speaking of as-of-late stuff, this transitional spring-to-summer weather still hasn’t been too good to me–along with a million other factors like lack of sleep, I’m sure. I’m still a bit pore-clogged and acne-prone! It doesn’t help that I work in a mildly drying air-conditioned office, I still have my perpetually-busy-college-student sleeping habits, and I still have NO IDEA what my skin wants from me, even after I’ve stripped routine down to the basics. I’ve calmed a bit, but I’m almost afraid to test new stuff…
…except for sheet masks. The Mediheal H.D.P. Pore-Stamping Charcoal-Mineral Mask Review is one of my attempts to get out of this comedoney slump. However, my desperation to get my hands on everything sebum-reducing and skin-clearing made something else clear, too: We need to be realistic about how we buy and consume skincare products.
Mediheal is a South Korean brand under the L&P Cosmetic (KR) company. Here’s their general description on the front of their packaging:
‘MEDIHEAL’ is a cosmedical brand that was created and tested by aesthetic specialists using principles of treatments. ‘MEDIHEAL’ incorporates special skin prescription and know-how of skin specialist to provide custom solution for individuals based on their skin concerns and renews the skin to look and feel like it has received professional skin management. ‘MEDIHEAL’ uses a highly concentrated formulation of natural materials, helps your unbalanced skin become healthier by making it resistant to stress and restoring skin balance.
Phew! That’s a lot of words. Well, basically all they mean to say is: “WE TALKED TO SOME SKIN EXPERT PEEPS AND ARE GIVING YOU ROUGHLY WHAT WE CAME UP WITH AFTER THAT.” Or, you know, something like that.
I really like the “cosmedical” idea Mediheal seems to be embracing, as I am a huge advocate for understanding what goes exactly into your skincare products and why they should work. But first,
let me take a selfie let’s see how they live up to the expectations.
Along with this charcoal-mineral mask, I’ve seen the N.M.F. Aquaring Ampoule and W.H.P. White Hydrating Charcoal-Mineral masks popping up at TJ Maxx (we don’t have a Marshall’s in Hawai‘i, by the way). There are also a lot of other American and European brands, but for the most part, I still prefer the ingredients lists of Asian brands. I haven’t been lucky enough to catch any My Beauty Diary boxes, though. I’ve even checked the tea shelves, because I’ve heard that the store employees sometimes mistake them for some Asian teas. Haha!
Anyway, the Mediheal H.D.P. Pore-Stamping Charcoal-Mineral Mask description on the back claims that”Mushroom Extract and Zinc PCA…tightens pores and controls excessive sebum,” and that “seagrape extract and Camellia sinensis callus culture extract nourish the skin to become resilient and lift the skin.” “H.D.P. stands for High Definition Pixel,” which I presume reminds us that this mask will get into all of your skin’s “pixels” and clear them of impurities to perfection. Or…yeah, something like that.
- Homes Officinalis (Mushroom) Extract – This is often classified as a skin protectant. Based on my cursory Google, there’s not a huge amount of research revolving around this ingredient. The top result is really just this patent that says, well, other people are claiming they’re working and says that they’re going to use it. Womp womp.
- Zinc PCA – Promises to “[control] excessive sebum”. Now, Mediheal wasn’t great at explaining it, but hardly any cosmetic brand is, you know? Zinc PCA (the “zinc salt of l-pyrrolidone carboxylate“) is astringent and anti-microbial, which I presume helps keep your pores—and the rest of your skin—resist the impurities that cause breakouts.
It is also thought to be an anti-aging ingredient because it suppresses a skin enzyme that degrades the collagen (the protein that helps keeps it all together!) in your skin tissue. Plus, it’s classified as a humectant, meaning it helps retain moisture in your skin. As an aside: It might sound oddly contradictory to retain moisture when you have oily skin, but remember that oil is not necessarily moisture and hydration. Having out-of-control sebum like me doesn’t necessarily mean you stop needing moisture!
- Seagrape (Caulerpa Lentillifera) Extract – A “film-forming agent” with moisturizing properties. I’ve also encountered its being used for anti-microbial purposes, like the zinc PCA.
- Camellia Sinensis Callus Culture Extract – Supposedly for skin conditioning, as well as a perfume ingredient.
- Charcoal powder is not in the description but it’s 11th on the list, which makes me wary of how much of a misnomer “Pore-Stamping Charcoal-Mineral” is (if this list roughly follows ingredients order according to U.S. FDA regulations). It’s not even in the little description on the back. Also, I’m hoping this is activated charcoal, A.K.A. activated carbon, which is created specifically for medical use. If you’re like me and you’re picturing regular charcoal pulverized to bits, then you’re absolutely right. That isn’t something you want near your face! And especially not on fire!
Full Ingredients List:
See Cosdna for more details. Those with 1 or higher “Acne” or “Irritant” value, as well as a red “Safety” value, are bolded*:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Caulerpa Lentillifera (Seagrape) Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Methylparaben, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Charcoal Powder, Fomes Officinalis (Mushroom) Extract, Adenosine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Natto Gum, Fragrance, Propylparaben, Cammelia Sinensis Callus Culture Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Wheat Amino Acids, Mineral Water, Zinc PCA, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Xanthan Gum, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Lecithin
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. The amount of ingredient actually in the product, as well as the product’s overall formulation, greatly affect the potential for irritation. Not everyone will be sensitive to these bolded ingredients, and you may be sensitive to ingredients that are not bolded. Every individual’s skin may react differently. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
I’m going to keep this part as short and sweet as possible because…
I was basically unimpressed by this mask.
Honestly, I have yet to be impressed by any activated-charcoal-infused whatsis or whatchamacallits. Neither soaps nor konjac sponges have been up to the task that they promised. But this, too? Sigh.
Don’t get me wrong. I really, really wanted to believe, you know? For my own selfish, acne-prone reasons, and because the ingredients list looks so promising at first, despite it being a little…different in focus compared to the “charcoal” in its name, as I mentioned earlier.
I used this sheet mask every other day for about a week. It fits pretty well, actually; the mask is on the medium~thick side, but it’s quite soft. It seems like cotton weaved together like fabric. As usual, I swipe the dripping, folded mask over my face, put it on, leave for 45 minutes, peel off, then pat the extra essence all over my face and neck.
This 25-mL mask has a ton of extra essence, probably a couple of days’ worth of extra essence if stored properly. I tried using it for subsequent days after double-cleansing, but still nothing in terms of “pore-stamping.” My pores weren’t quite cleared out as I still had some mild sebaceous filaments, those tiny black clogs on or around your nose. I also definitely got a few more comedones that week—not due to the mask, but at the regular rate that my recently acne-prone ass has been developing acne. Yuck. Basically, though, the semi-instant effects that the mask promised just never happened. 😦
Again, zinc PCA is so far down the ingredients list that I’m not surprised that it didn’t do much despite how often I used the mask. Of course, keep in mind that a single-use product can only go so far in performance compared to something like a daily essence! I mean, I’m sure it’s anti-microbial and all of that, but apparently not anti-microbial enough. Not even when I did my one job and not pick/touch my face!
But not to fear—I’m not all doom and gloom today. My face does, in fact, feel a lot more moisturized after each use. I give credit to the mushroom extract for that. It might even be a little too moisturizing for my preference, because it takes several minutes for my face to be dry enough for my next skincare step, after removing the mask. For you non-oily friends, you probably wouldn’t have any such problems. #ABworldproblems
It has an odd musty smell, and vaguely like damp leaves. You can almost taste it! I wouldn’t say it’s unpleasant, but it doesn’t really go away.
Despite the broken promises, the masks are a decent value at $12.99 for a box of 10.
Overall, this mask is a great example of ingredients being incorrectly promoted by skincare companies to do, for example, A and B foremost while it actually does C much better. While C might be nice, please stop giving us false hope about A and B. 😦
So far, this is my least favorite mask available at TJ Maxx. Its hydration was good enough for me to not be wholly angry at this mask, and it didn’t cause any issues (i.e. comedone city) for me, but I won’t purchase it again. On principle, I can’t ethically recommend this because of the misleading branding and supposedly key ingredients, heh. However, I would think of this as more of an affordable, accessible, moisturizing mask. If you’re curious, I’m not going to scold you for trying it; it didn’t hurt me, and heck, you might even have a better experience than I did. Your Mileage May Definitely Vary with this one.
I’ll give you a two-fer!
- Be mindful, curious, and cautious about your purchases. Read what you’re buying. Check out the fine print and ingredients lists. You don’t necessarily have to stay away from absolutely all products that aren’t precisely everything the product name says, or do some intensive Google-izing every time you so much as glance at a product. However, it’s so important to remember to always question what you’re told—especially when a business wants your money. If it looks too good to be true, you just might be right.
- Be realistic and manage your expectations. There is only so much that topical skincare products can do, anyway. For instance, this mask may not seem as anti-microbial as it claims. However, unless I use this product every day for a month or so, there’s no way to be sure. After all, sheet masks are intended to be one-use, immediate-effect products. While it didn’t do what it claimed it would do for me, let’s not expect any miracles to happen here!
Overall Rating: 2.5 / 5
5 / 5: HOLY GRAIL STATUS. I dare you to pry this from my cold, dead, kpop-glowy hands.
4 / 5: I really liked this! Would repurchase until I find a better alternative.
3 / 5: So-so. Unimpressive results, but may work better for others with different conditions.
2 / 5: Would not repurchase. Possibly caused some issues for me, but may work for others.
1 / 5: This lied to me. It did nothing that it said it would, and caused some issues.
0 / 5: Do not buy this. No one should have to suffer the way I did.
Has a seemingly promising sheet mask failed you lately? What similar oil- and impurity-clearing products do you love (or love to hate…)? 🙂
(Also, who else is watching the new Game of Thrones?!)