Acne was never an issue for me growing up. Those awkward teenage years involved a full set of braces and puffy under-conditioned, curly hair, but rarely any major breakouts. So you could imagine my surprise when the red, irritated pimples known as cystic acne began to appear around my chin and little bumps arrived on my cheeks in my mid-20s. Although they're two separate concerns, it was one product, the Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, that became my saving grace.
My skin type is combination, so finding a clarifying mask that can penetrate my T-zone and absorb pore-clogging buildup from oils and dirt throughout the day was such a boon. I tend to get dry and flaky along my laugh lines, resulting in unwanted red marks that I then cover with concealer which can dry my skin out… and the cycle continues. Thankfully, along with the clarifying stuff, Kiehl's included ingredients like oatmeal and aloe to help soothe the irritation that often occurs for me with masks that make similar promises.
Here's how I use it: I pull my lion's mane of hair off my face with a headband, which allows me to spread the creamy, gray mask all the way out to my jaw and hairline. I'll sometimes treat my skin to a facial steam before applying the mask — I find this relaxes my pores and lets the mask penetrate even deeper.
After steaming, I use my beloved silicone facial brush to apply a thin layer of the mineral-rich Amazonian clay mask. Since it's quite thick to begin with, a little goes a long way. The mask gives off a faint, earthy clean scent that you might miss since the smell is so subtle. What you will notice is the tingling sensation, which I quite enjoy, as the mask hardens and dries.
Since this versatile mask also works as a spot treatment, I am able to focus on my breakout areas (cheeks, chin, and nose). Think of this as spreading a laying of self-care on your acne-prone regions as you go about your day for 10 to 15 minutes.
The removal process — the reveal, if you will — is the most satisfying part for me. Once the clay tightly dries onto (and in some ways, into) my skin, I continuously splash warm water onto my face until the clay softens. As I gently rub in circular motions, the clay will begin to fall off, and a clean, smooth, complexion is revealed.
After incorporating this mask into my skin-care routine twice a week, those tiny sebaceous bumps along my cheeks have disappeared. And on the off-chance a breakout does occur, you better believe I'm reaching for this Deep Pore Cleansing Masque from Kiehl's. It's no surprise that it won an Allure Best of Beauty Award for 2020.
Check out the rest of the 2020 Best of Beauty winners.