GlamGlow's GravityMud Firming Treatment has so many drawbacks that we're not sure where to begin. With 100% certainty this mask's claims are overstated and its formula is fraught with potentially problematic ingredients that cannot lift or tighten skin as claimed. It's not a mask we can recommend, regardless of your skin type.
This water-based, peel-off mask contains a high amount polyvinyl alcohol and denatured alcohol. As the polyvinyl alcohol dries, it forms a tightening film on skin, along with a thin, plastic-like layer you can peel off (which you're directed to do after having this mask on skin for 20¬-30 minutes). Polyvinyl alcohol isn't a strong irritant, but film formers and resins like it may become problematic in a formula that combines it with a high amount of denatured alcohol (or other irritants). In high amounts, denatured alcohol poses a variety of problems for skin, as we explain in the More Info section below.
Like other GlamGlow products, the antioxidants in the formula, known as "TEOXI", are called out in its marketing. However, the unfortunate choice of jar packaging won't help keep these beneficial ingredients (in this case, antioxidants like soy and licorice, among others) stable once opened. See More Info for the full scoop on why jar packaging for antioxidants isn't the best approach.
We'll also direct your attention to the More Info section so you can find out why this mask's other issue, strong fragrance, poses a risk of irritation for skin. The fruity, candy-like scent might make your nose happy, but it won't do your skin any favors!
Did you see the part in the More Info section about why products claiming to lift skin cannot work as claimed? If not, check it out, because it supports yet another issue with this mask, that being the claim of delivering "toned, sexy contours" as skin is left "feeling" more lifted. Sadly, no actual lifting is taking place, though the alcohols and clays in this mask can leave skin feeling tighter (which some may not find comfortable). We wish that tight feeling meant skin was actually tighter, but that's not what happens. For all of its shortcomings and flaws, GlamGlow's GravityMud Firming Treatment earned our lowest rating—and its price only adds insult to injury. Though no mask can do what this product claims to, there are several alternatives to consider that do contain good-for-skin formulas in our top-recommended Facial Masks section.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Alcohol helps ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does that by breaking down the skin's barrier—destroying the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012 and Journal of Hospital Infection, 2003).
A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). 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).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see the Paula's Choice Research Team's Expert Advice article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
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).
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: Routine 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).
Products Claiming to Lift Skin: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Remember, no single product can do it all; it's the combination of products that has extensive research showing it can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness.