I accept the reality that I’m never going to be one of those people who has a medicine cabinet full of skincare goodies profiled on Into the Gloss, mostly because I don’t really look that good. Who could possibly want to know what products I’m using? So they could look more mediocre? But the truth is I do love a good skincare product, and even though I’m too busy to bother with makeup or hair styling, I try to take care of my skin. And although it seemed like almost overnight everyone got really, really into face masks, I am a longtime fan and a bit of a know-it-all about them.
In maybe third grade, I had a babysitter who was taking a cosmetology class, and she brought over a huge binder full of recipes for homemade face masks and hair packs. The only one I really remember her mixing up and trying on us at home was made of oatmeal, egg white, and honey. To this day, I still occasionally throw an egg white on my face if I have a few minutes to spare and I think of it.
I have in my cabinet a lot of store-bought face masks, and many of them are fairly expensive. But my favorite, the best face masks of them all, are made by the unassuming Queen Helene brand.
What is it?
The Queen Helene suite of masks, which include the Mud Pack and the Mint Julep, come in both tubes and massive tubs. The tubs, which last, in my experience, for well over a year, even when used on a weekly basis, are about seven bucks. My favorite is the the bright green, anti-oil Mint Julep mask.
The makers of the Mint Julep mask, Queen Helene, have been around since the 1930s, which is no surprise if you Google around and take a quick look at their products. I myself recently purchased the Hot Oil Hair Treatment ($6) based solely on the retro stylings of the package. This is no-fuss stuff, ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn’t be any happier about that, as I sit here penning my little love letter to the Queen. The company was purchased several years back by Hain Celestial, owner of many organic and natural companies, and though my current tubs claim to have a “new look,” it is my opinion that “new” is clearly used as a relative term here. Helene, if you’re out there: Your shit is the best. Never stop making the giant tubs of Mint Julep, and never update the packages. Why be like everyone else when you can be yourself?
Why is it the Gold Standard?
Let me be very direct: These are the best face masks I have ever used, and only partly because they’re $7. Mostly, I love the Mint Julep one because it actually works. It doesn’t dry out my skin, my pores seem clearer when I’m finished, and it smells really good. I believe that it stops my skin from breaking out when used regularly. It’s one of those classic masks that you glob on and then let dry, so you can experience the pleasant feeling of your face tightening to the point where you can’t really open your mouth: That’s okay! You should be relaxing with a good book or something while you wait for 20 or 30 for it to dry. It doesn’t rinse away very easily: I usually use a wet wash cloth. I take this clinginess as a sign of its tenacity. The Mud Pack is also great, but it’s brown and has no discernible smell. It says it “detoxifies,” which is obviously bullshit, but it makes your skin smooth as hell.
I would love to tell you that your money would be well spent on things like SK-II sheet masks or the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy mask, both of which cost a lot, lot more, but you’re wasting your research skills and money looking for better stuff. I would like to tell you that these masks are part of an arsenal because I enjoy trying out new stuff all the time, but the truth is that we could all probably do just fine with only these two Queen Helene masks. As my dermatologist once told me, much to the chagrin of the part of me that craves variety, “Keep it simple, stop confusing your skin.”