Having sensitive, acne-prone skin, yet constantly testing new skin care products is pretty much a recipe for a balls out zit party. As a result, it’s rare that a month goes by where I don’t experience some kind of breakout, and for that reason, one of my favorite types of products to try is spot treatments. I’ve tried quite a few recently (reviews forthcoming), but was recently surprised when this Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask – which is not marketed as a spot treatment – turned out to be one of the best overnight acne zappers I’ve tried in a very long time.
What is it?
Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask ($9) is a moisturizing, clay-based, wash off mask that promises sebum control, pore cleaning, and tightening.
Water (Aqua), Kaolin, Butylene Glycol, Bentonite, Propylene Glycol, Moroccan Lava Clay, Glycerin, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Stearic Acid, Charcoal Powder, Fomes Officinalis (Mushroom) Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Sanguisorba Officinalis Extract Pelargonium Graveolens Extract, Uncaria Gambir Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Polysorbate 20, Panthenol, Steareth-21, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Ammonium Acryloyldimethylaurate/VP Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, CI 77499
In true Missha style, this mask contains a number of gentle plant extracts. These plant extracts are not present in high enough qualities to work any miracles, but most of them do contain a number of antioxidants, which is great. In addition to the extracts, the ingredients I believe make this mask effective include:
Kaolin – Kaolin is a soft, white, mineral clay that’s extremely absorbent, thanks to its high silica content. There are all kinds of claims surrounding the healing and skin care benefits of Kaolin, which has been used for centuries as a skin care treatment. Strangely, there are no scientific studies confirming any of the claims. However, the ability of this clay to absorb oil/sebum is confirmed, and that’s good enough for me.
Bentonite – Bentonite is a clay derived from volcanic ash. It works by constricting the skin as it dries, which gently squeezes excess oil and sebum from the pores. The clay absorbs the oils as they exit the skin. Bentonite also possesses antibacterial properties.
Moroccan Lava Clay – Also known as Ghassoul, Ghassool, Rhassoul, and Rhassool clay, this clay is high in silica content, and extremely absorbant. I constantly see it described as “mineral-rich,” but I have had a really hard time figuring out which minerals it’s actually rich in. In addition to being antibacterial and extremely absorbant, Ghassoul also possesses skin-softening properties. I often see claims of healing properties as well, but could not find any scientific studies regarding this claim. It’s been used for centuries as a beauty treatment in Morocco, which is where this clay comes from.
Charcoal Powder – Charcoal is found in a variety of face masks, and is usually accompanied by claims that it removes toxins and other impurities. There is no scientific data available to support charcoal as a topical “toxin” remover, but it is an extremely absorbent substance, which helps greatly with sebum control.
This mask formula does contain Cetearyl Alcohol, which I’m sensitive to in larger quantities. Cetearyl Alcohol ranks a 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger on COSDNA, and a 3 out of 5 as a potential irritant. Additional potential acne trigger include Palmitic Acid and Stearic Acid, which both score a 2 out of 5 as potential acne triggers.
Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask comes packaged in a tub. I can’t recall whether or not it came with a spatula. I much prefer using clean hands to dispatch the mask from the container.
There is no added fragrance in this product, so there’s nothing frilly or perfumey about the scent, but it does smell like clay. I rather like the smell, which is not overpowering, and not very noticeable once it begins to dry on the face.
This mask is designed to be used a rinse-away mask. The instructions say to apply the mask to clean skin after the application of toner, and wash away after 10-15 minutes. The suggested frequency of use is 1-2 times a week.
Applying the mask is nice and easy, as the formula is very smooth and easy to spread. As it dries, it hardens and is definitely less comfortable on the skin. Rinsing away takes a little bit of effort, but no scrubbing
I did use this mask per the instructions a couple of times when I first got it. My skin did feel tighter after usage, which is to be expected since the clay is rather drying. It ended up in the back of my skin care shelf where it was forgotten until last week.
Last week, I decided to use it as a spot treatment on three gigantor pimples that were plaguing my chin area after a bad run with a product I’d been testing. For this, I smoothed the clay over the affected area, waited for it to dry enough that it wouldn’t smear all over my pillowcase, then slept in it overnight. I washed it off in the morning with my morning face wash.
First, let me just talk about those gigantor pimples a little more. They were awful – they were cystic, painful, and worst of all, they were slowly oozing. I tried to be patient and gentle with them, but after two days, I was desperate for them to be gone.
I decided to apply the Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask as an overnight spot treatment. In theory, it seemed the clay should help stop some of the oozing, at least. As soon as I washed it off the next morning, the first thought was “holy crap!” My second thought was about how deeply I regretted not taking before and after photos. All three spots had been reduced from huge, silhouette-changing chin mountains, to dry, slightly raised, red bumps. They were smaller by at least 80%, no longer painful, and no longer oozing. I was so ecstatic that I decided to try it again the following night. Again, they were even smaller the following morning. I tried it for a third night, but it seemed the clay had done all it could do at this point – the spots looked pretty much the same as they did the night before.
Still, I was and am overjoyed with the results, and will definitely continue to use the Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask as a spot treatment as the need arises.
+ Contains lots of oil absorbing clay
+ No fragrance
+ Easy to spread
+ Amazingly effective spot treatment
- Can be drying for dry skin types when used as an all-over face mask
- Contains Cetearyl Alcohol; those sensitive to this ingredient should be wary
- Tub packaging (Can be unhygienic, though I personally don’t mind this type of packaging)
Skin & Tonics Rating:
Performance: 4/5 – Even though it’s not my favorite face mask for my skin type, it performs amazingly as a spot treatment
Quality: 3/5 – I like that it contains so many clays, and many of the added ingredients help give this mask the smooth texture I enjoy so much, but it does contain potential acne triggers for those with certain sensitivities. Some may be turned off by the tub packaging
Value: 5/5 – This mask retails for $9, which is a bargain considering how much the jar contains and how effective this product is for spot treating acne
Where to Buy
Missha Black Ghassoul Tightening Mask is available on the US Missha website, where it’s currently on sale for $6 (it normally retails for $9). It’s also available from the following Skin & Tonics approved sellers:
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