Tested on animals:Yes
GlamGlow's empire of "mud" (A.K.A. clay) masks have received their fair share of buzz over the years, and Flashmud Brightening Treatment continues the trend. Unfortunately, it also continues the tradition of being genuinely irritating to skin. That's a major letdown at any price point, but it's particularly disappointing for such an expensive mask!
You're instructed to massage Flashmud Brightening Treatment into skin and leave it on for a minimum of twenty minutes. According to GlamGlow, its "innovative multi-brightening complexes help to create the brightest, lightest, and most luminous skin possible." They go on to list several flashy-sounding combinations of trademarked ingredient blends, including the use of diamond powder.
Diamond powder, which is commercial grade diamond residue, does indeed help this mask leave behind a slight sparkling shine on skin, which can be perceived as "brightening," though if shimmer is the goal, it could also be accomplished with products that cost a fraction of this. As diamond powder has no benefit for skin, you could say its presence here is marketing spin to make this product seem more impressive than it really is.
Diamond dust aside, GlamGlow also boasts of "skin translucency optimizers" which is their way of saying skin-lightening ingredients. Indeed Flashmud Brightening Treatment does contain acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide among other supporting ingredients to help fade brown spots and other discolorations. The formula also contains several antioxidant-rich plant extracts to support the anti-aging claims, but then things go downhill…
The jar packaging that this mask comes in allows the beneficial light- and air-sensitive ingredients it contains to break down with each use, eventually rendering them ineffective. Given this product's cost, that's a huge waste of money. (See More Info for additional details on why jar packaging is a problem.) Adding insult to injury, the fact that this clay-based mask is fragranced strongly enough to smell for the duration of its wear is also problematic and can lead to pro-aging irritation for skin (see More Info for the full scoop).
We also need to address the exfoliation properties of Flashmud Brightening Treatment, which could actually be categorized a scrub due to its abrasive particles. While you can get some manual exfoliation by massaging the gritty mask into skin as directed, its abrasive texture can cause tiny, skin-damaging tears and if you have sensitive skin, it will definitely leave it reddened and irritated. Interestingly, the formula also contains AHA (lactic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid) which are effective chemical exfoliants, but combined with the overall irritating formula, you're mixing benefit with risk, so why bother?
In the end, despite the hype, Flashmud Brightening Treatment is yet another letdown in GlamGlow's line of irritant-loaded masks. For superior options, check out any of the skin-friendly formulas we recommend on our Best Facial Masks list.
- Contains acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide + other supporting ingredients to help fade brown spots.
- Contains a potent amount of the potentially irritating fragrance.
- Jar packaging won't keep many of the beneficial ingredients stable.
- Gritty, abrasive texture is rough on skin.
- Expensive for what you get.
Jar Packaging: The fact that it’s packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you’re dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients not only can help prevent free-radical damage, but also, to a fairly impressive extent, help repair that damage. Surprisingly, almost all of these ingredients are just as vulnerable to sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke as your skin (Pharmacognosy Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).