Detox + Soothe 2-Step Treatment Mask
Differin’s Detox + Soothe 2-Step Treatment Mask has some redeeming qualities… which are unfortunately undone by poor packaging and some questionable ingredients.
This two-step mask comes in a plastic jar with two separate compartments in a yin-yang shape. On one side is a creamy clay “hot” mask, while the other contains a blue gel “cold” mask. You’re instructed to apply the clay mask first, let it sit on skin for three minutes and rinse it off. Then you put on the gel mask, gently massaging it into skin, and leave it on overnight.
The creamy mask is clay-based (kaolin is the second ingredient), but it’s definitely not drying or stripping. It contains numerous moisturizing ingredients, among them petrolatum, glycerin, avocado, coconut, and sunflower oils, plus shea butter. (One note: the plant oils mean this is perhaps not the best formula for acne-prone skin, since it might be too emollient.) This fragrance-free mask has a slight warming effect (the result of a chemical process known as an exothermic reaction, not irritants), and rinses cleanly, resulting in softer, smoother skin. There is a small amount of the fragrance ingredient vanillyl butyl ether (which is also a skin-conditioning ingredient), though not enough to be an issue, especially since this is rinsed off.
The gel mask is where things start to get problematic. Though it contains some skin-beneficial ingredients (antioxidant apple and cloudberry extracts, moisturizing squalane, and plumping sodium hyaluronate), it contains much more menthyl lactate than any of these. Menthyl lactate is a menthol derivative that creates the mask’s cooling sensation, and just like menthol, it poses a risk of skin irritation.
Also included is fragrant blue tansy oil (you can smell it as soon as you open the container), which puts skin at additional risk for irritation. For a leave-on product that’s supposed to be soothing, the effect is likely to be anything but (see More Info for details about irritation’s impact on skin).
As if that weren’t enough, the fact that both masks are packaged in a jar means that the good stuff in them is compromised because of their exposure to light and air (see More Info for the scoop on that as well).
One last note: this simply cannot detox skin as claimed. Topical skin care cannot remove toxins from skin, since detoxing the body is an internal process that involves the liver and kidneys.
Although the creamy clay mask is a moisturizing dream, the packaging and the iffy gel mask mean it’s far better to selection an alternative from our list of best face masks instead.
- Creamy clay “hot mask” feels soothing and moisturizing.
- Hot mask contains numerous skin-beneficial hydrating ingredients.
- Cold mask contains irritating menthyl lactate.
- Cold mask includes fragrant blue tansy oil, which can increase the risk of skin irritation.
- Packaged in a jar, which compromises the beneficial ingredients.
Jar Packaging & Anti-Aging Ingredients: Beneficial anti-aging ingredients, which include all plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients, are unstable, which means they begin to break down in the presence of air. Once a jar is opened and lets air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective. Routine exposure to daylight is also problematic for these ingredients.
Jar packaging is also unsanitary because you dip your fingers into the jar with each use, contaminating the product. This stresses the preservative system, especially in water-based formulas, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
Remember: The ingredients that provide the most benefit in addressing visible signs of aging must be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging to remain effective throughout usage. Buying products in this type of packaging means that the ingredients have the best chance of remaining effective—to the benefit of your skin.
References for this information:
Molecules, July 2018, ePublication
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, pages 97–106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, pages 252–259
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, pages 640–660
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, pages 4676–4683
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82–88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1–10
Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice.
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for it to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Annals of the Brazilian Journal of Dermatology, July-August 2017, pages 521-525
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
This 2-step, multi-benefit mask with unique self-warming and cooling formulas helps detox and soothe skin to reduce excess oil, minimize the appearance of pores and improve clarity. All of this in only 3 minutes… what are you waiting for?
As a brand, Differins come a long way in just a few short years. Originally Differin was the brand-name of the prescription retinoid adapalene, but in addition to the original adapalene-containing Differin Gel, they now offer a growing number of products available over the counter with a focus on treating and preventing acne.
The biggest change for Differin came in 2016, when, after two decades of being prescribed by doctors for acne, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the original Differin Gel for use over-the-counter. The move marked the first new drug approved for OTC acne treatment since the 1980s!
With the formula essentially unchanged since its introduction, Differin Gel remains a good alternative for those with stubborn acne that hasnt responded to more traditional treatments. To supplement their star product, Galderma, the parent company behind Differin, now offers additional products, such as a cleanser and a few moisturizers, each designed for breakout-prone skin. Overall, theyre relatively stripped-down formulas and dont offer much in the way of cutting-edge ingredients, but they are fragrance-free and gentle on acne-prone skin for the most part.
For more information about Differin, visit https://www.differin.com or call 1-866-735-4137.
Note: Because Differin is a pharmaceutical company, the original Differin Gel formula was tested on animals. However, the brand has stated in an email that their other non-drug skin care products are not tested on animals. As such, this brand's animal-testing status is a sort of grey area for consumers and we've decided to err on the side of caution and keep them on our list of brands that do test on animals, with this caveat, so each individual can make this very personal decision for themselves.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.